Best Practice For Schools When Creating Microsoft Teams For Education


Almost a year ago I posted some thoughts on SharePoint Design and Office365 layout and I mentioned then that it was one of the most common questions I was asked in my engagements with schools.

Now, I'm more likely to be asked:

"how should I set up my Microsoft Teams? Should it be one big Team for ALL staff? Separate Teams for each Faculty? What about Channels?"

Whilst I've formulated my own ideas on this over time, today I came across a great resource from the Microsoft Education Support pages helpfully entitled:

Best practices for school leaders creating teams and channels in Microsoft Teams for Education

This is pretty extensive resource that covers off a range of different scenarios where Teams could be used, and is part of the wider Education Support pages for Microsoft Teams.

One question I routinely get asked that is most popular in larger High Schools, is how to set up a Faculty/Department. This is the recommendation from the guide:

HeaderDepartments

 

Channels & Files Tabs

I've seen Teams where there are so many Channels it's hard to know where to find content. Alternatively, other schools use only the default General Channel and then place an ever-deeper hierarchy of folders and sub folders inside of the Files tab, meaning teachers need to drill down endlessly to find the content they are looking for.

In the end, I think there is probably a happy equilibrium where Channels can be used to meaningfully split out content, with this then being saved into the Files tab of each relevant Channel. How each school chooses to find this balance will likely come down to their size and how they operate (or aspire to operate) in a digital hub like Teams. The guide does provide a form hierarchical template for schools to consider:

Within your district or school, it’s possible to create teams that follow an organizational structure. Use this approach if you have strict reporting requirements, are managing a large district with high staff numbers, or have goals to increase transparency across a diverse set of schools and employees. Here’s how that might look, with teams “reporting” up the chain to other teams. This ensures school leaders, staff, and teachers are members in the teams that are relevant to them.

Hierarchy.png

One layout that I've often discussed with schools might be how would the Science Faculty look when using Microsoft Teams. This mirrors some of these discussions and I would replicate the layout below that I've expanded for the Physics Channel into the other sub-channels:

  • Science Faculty (Team)
    • General (Channel)
      • Conversations Tab (inter-department conversation, reduce email etc)
      • OneNote Tab (Store Departmental Meeting notes etc)
    • Physics (Channel)
      • Yr12 Content (Files Tab Folder)
        • Individual Unit To Teach (Files Tab sub-Folder)
        • Individual Unit To Teach (Files Tab sub-Folder)
        • etc etc
      • Yr11 Content (Files Tab Folder)
        • Individual Unit To Teach (Files Tab sub-Folder
        • Individual Unit To Teach (Files Tab sub-Folder)
        • etc etc
    • Chemistry (Channel)
    • Biology (Channel)
    • Junior Science (Channel)

My Thoughts:

Having some guidance around best practice for Microsoft Teams set up is a helpful starting point for schools to work from, however invariably schools will need to customise for their own goals and ways of working. I was talking to an IT Director in a school earlier this week who had a goal of moving his entire IT team off email and into communications via Teams and had largely achieved this within his own department. That said, achieving the same outcome across a wider staff is a much larger exercise in change management.

As more schools look to move from on-premise infrastructure and into cloud based platforms, guidelines like the above are helpful tools to start with.

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