Teams for Business & Education: Best Integrations for Extended Capabilities

Microsoft Teams is a cross-platform collaboration and communication hub for organizations. When I joined my current organization, I was given access to a Microsoft Teams account. It was only recently that I realized there are different versions of Teams (or what we call “Tenants”) within Office 365 – the Business tenant and the Education tenant (Veenstra, 2017). The creation of a new team within either tenants needs to happen at the IT Administrator level.

Here’s a quick look at how the Business vs. Education tenants differ when the Admin tries to create a new team:

TEAMS FOR BUSINESSTEAMS FOR EDUCATION
Teams for Business - Create Team - Step 1

Teams for Business - Create Team - Step 2

Teams for Business - Create Team - Step 3
Teams for Education - Create Team - Step 1

Teams for Education - Create Team - Step 2
Table 1: Creating a new team – comparison between Teams for Business and Teams for Education

Teams Features

Teams for Business Features

Let’s take a look at what are the differences and additional features available in Teams for Education. These basic features appear across both Teams for Business and Teams for Education.

Figure 1: Microsoft Teams Interface
  1. Chat – 1:1 instant messages and group chats
  2. Teams – Groups of people or teams working on something as a team or a class, various topics or conversations can be held in channels.
  3. Calendar – Integrated with your existing calendar if you have an Office 365 Mailbox.
  4. Calls – 1:1 calling to other Teams users and virtual meetings using voice and/or video. Presenters can share screen and presentations.
  5. Files – Individual storage within Teams for sharing documents, or Team storage for group collaboration.
  6. Apps – allows for the capability of teams to be extended by installing extension apps.

Teams for Education Features

The Education tenant, however, comes with additional features like Assignments and Notebook. This resource from Microsoft is a good place to get started in setting up your class in Teams.

Assignments

Figure 2: Assignment feature in Teams for Education
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Similar to how Google Classroom works, Teams for Education’s Assignment feature enables Teachers to issue assignments to students and for students to turn in their work. Teachers can then review submitted work and assign grades. The Grades tab offers a handy view for Teachers to track student progress in a dashboard view. It is also possible to send out weekly guardian email digests to parents and guardians. Teachers can communicate information about student assignments to parents and guardians so they can stay on top of their children’s homework.

Figure 3: Grades in Microsoft Teams for Education
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Notebooks

Figure 4: Class Notebook in Teams for Education

When you set up a class on Teams, you will automatically get a Class Notebook linked to the class. This collaborative notebook is powered by OneNote so you get to enjoy all the features of OneNote including storing text, images, attachments, voice notes, and more. Here are the main components of the Class Notebook:

  1. Student Notebooks – This is a private space shared between teacher and individual student. Students are only able to view and edit their own individual notebook but the class Teacher can access all students’ notebooks.
  2. Content Library – This section allows Teachers to publish and share handouts with students. Students do not have editing and publishing rights to this section, only viewing access.
  3. Collaboration Space – This is a collaborative space for the entire class to share and organize information, as well as collaborate on projects.

Here are step-by-step instructions on how to set up a Class Notebook in Teams. The OneNote in Education site also offers rich resources for educators and students.

Taking Teams Further

Apart from the basic functions that come with Microsoft Teams, it is possible to extend the functionalities of Teams using Microsoft Teams integrations (Unify Square, 2020). You can find over 700 apps for Microsoft Teams listed on the official Microsoft App Store. Here are some of my favorite apps for integrating into Teams.

App Integrations for Business

1 | Approvals

Approvals
Figure 5: Approvals app
(Image credit: Microsoft)

The Approvals app was created y Microsoft and allows for the sending, receiving, managing, and sharing of approvals in Microsoft Teams. Team members can submit requests for approvals and approving managers will receive alerts to approve. The best thing is that all approvals can be systematically tracked with requestor name, approval status, and date and time stamps logged for better governance.

2 | Tasks by Planner and To Do

Tasks app
Figure 6: Tasks app
(Image credit: Microsoft)

The Tasks app in Teams, consolidates not only your individual tasks in Outlook and To Do but also your team tasks from Planner, and brings everything together under one neat interface in Teams. For a task-oriented person like me, I love being able to see all my tasks in one view and have the satisfaction of checking them off as they get done. I also love that Tasks offer different views – List, Board, Charts and Schedule for different task visualization.

3 | Shifts

Shifts app
Figure 7: Shifts app
(Image credit: Microsoft)

The Shifts app is especially useful for managing the work schedule of frontline workers and part-timers. It is a time management and communication tool that lets managers manage the schedules of employees. Employees can view their upcoming shifts, and request to swap shifts. As they arrive, they can also clock in and out using the app and at month-end, they can easily export their timesheet for payroll processing. 

4 | Scheduling Assistant

Scheduling Assistant
Figure 8: Scheduling Assistant in the Calendar app

One of my least favorite things to do is scheduling meetings. I find the constant back and forth in communication trying to find a timeslot which fits all meeting parties to be laborious and highly inefficient. Thankfully, there is the Scheduling Assistant within the Calendar app in Teams that takes the heavy-lifting out of this unappealing task. This tools syncs with your calendar events and maps all meeting attendees’ availability to discover available time slots for scheduling meetings.

App Integrations for Education

1 | Glose for Education

Glose for Education
Figure 9: Glose for Education app
(Image Credit: Glose for Education, Microsoft)

Glose for Education is a collaborative digital reading platform offering access to more than a million eBooks, 400 of them free. The best part is that these books can be accessed directly from within Teams. Students can read books on their own or collaboratively with their classmates.

For more Educator resources, be sure to also check out Microsoft’s Educator Center site. What’s your favorite Teams app? I’m always on the lookout for app integrations that boosts productivity and adds value to student learning. I welcome your sharing.

2 | Mindmeister

Mindmeister is a mindmapping tool that can be integrated directly into Teams. It is useful for class brainstorming, note-taking, project planning, and mindmapping. The tool allows for collaborative work among students, working together to update a mindmap at the same time.

3 | Quizlet

Quizlet is a flashcard app that helps students to achieve mastery of learning topics. With the Teams integration, Teachers can search, share, and let students study their Quizlet sets right within Teams.

4 | Immersive Reader

Immersive Reader for Teams offers the ability for you to have messages and text passages read aloud to you. This is especially useful for students who wants to improve their language and reading skills by listening to pronunciations. Simply hover over messages and select the Immersive Reader option.

Figure 10: Immersive Reader tool in Teams
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Conclusion

Although the ability to integrate apps into Microsoft Teams is a great way to make the application more robust, the process for doing this may not be as straightforward. It appears that the IT administrator needs to first allow access to app integrations. I am currently using a Teams for Business account but in my role, it would be so much more convenient if I can access both the Business and Education tenants. While I am a school administrator, I am also a teacher. It would be nice to be able to access the apps reserved for Teams for Education to make the whole user experience more seamless.

For more Educator resources, be sure to also check out Microsoft’s Educator Center site. What’s your favorite Teams app? I’m always on the lookout for app integrations that boost productivity and add value to student learning. I welcome your sharing.

References

  1. Veenstra, P. (2017, August 30). Business vs educational tenant with Microsoft Teams. Retrieved April 18, 2021, from https://sharepains.com/2017/08/30/business-educational-tenant-teams/
  2. Kent, D. (2021, April 07). Best Microsoft Teams Features: 56 we use in 2021. Retrieved April 18, 2021, from https://dispatch.m.io/best-microsoft-teams-features/
  3. Microsoft Teams for Education. (n.d.). Use OneNote Class Notebook in Teams. Retrieved April 18, 2021, from https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/topic/use-onenote-class-notebook-in-teams-bd77f11f-27cd-4d41-bfbd-2b11799f1440
  4. Microsoft Teams for Education. (n.d.). Set up a Class Notebook in Teams using existing content. Retrieved April 18, 2021, from https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/topic/set-up-a-class-notebook-in-teams-using-existing-content-0a8c3b96-7784-4323-9931-09747c124e7d
  5. Microsoft. (2019, October 1). Configure Teams for Education. Retrieved April 18, 2021, from https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/education/deploy/set-up-teams-for-education
  6. Unify Square. (2020, March 26). What you need to know about Microsoft teams app integration. Retrieved April 18, 2021, from https://www.unifysquare.com/blog/microsoft-teams-app-integrations