Microsoft Teams Around the World: Collaborative Learning through the Cloud

Concurrent Session 3

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Brief Abstract

Digital platforms transform the classroom into a blended learning environment. How do we choose what web 2.0 tools works best for blended learning? Join us for a discussion of Microsoft Teams, which offers a unique alternative to traditional LMS platforms for expanding our classroom beyond its four walls!

Presenters

Dr. Sherry Maggin is the Spanish Program Director in the Department of Foreign Languages at the United States Military Academy, where she has served as an Assistant Professor since 2013. She received her Ph.D. in Romance Languages and Literatures from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2013. Her research interests include blended learning and social media in the foreign language classroom.

Extended Abstract

The learning environments of the 21st century are certainly not limited to the four walls of a classroom. They extend significantly into the digital world, through learning management systems, social media, and cloud-based applications. These digital tools, especially those used as a part of daily life, offer students a one-stop shop where they can access course materials, submit assignments, and actively collaborate with peers and instructors. Many such platforms offer the added advantage of being accessible on any device, and not simply limited to one’s personal computer. Whether collaborating and communicating synchronously or asynchronously, digital platforms offer the opportunity to expand and transform the traditional learning environment into a blended learning environment, enhanced and supported by technology. How then does an instructor choose what platform works best for blended learning in their course? What options are available besides the traditional LMS platforms?

Social media and cloud-based applications offer advantages over the traditional LMS in that they are accessible on a wider variety of devices and may already be used by both instructors and students in daily life. However, with recent privacy and security concerns, some educators may feel reluctant to utilize social media sites in particular in their classroom. Cloud-based applications, such as Microsoft Teams, provide a unique option for instructors to extend their classroom into the digital world and offer many of the same features of the LMS in terms of communication and collaboration. Additionally, they build upon an already established network used within a specific university, where students and instructors can seamlessly and securely collaborate at home and abroad. In fact, the “Channels” or groups offered by the application provide a way to connect students with their peers studying internationally and allow for collaboration in discussion threads and assignments. This affords all students the unique opportunity to share their experiences within the web 2.0 learning environment, significantly extending the university beyond its borders.

This session will explore the use of Microsoft Teams as a cloud-based solution for blended learning. It will present one instructor’s adventure in finding the ideal platform for web 2.0 in their courses and how to incorporate and adapt to a cloud-based classroom environment. It will discuss two pilot studies using the Microsoft Teams application as a blended learning platform: a short-term small group student trip as well as a semester-long course with distance learning components. Presenters will provide an overview of the process of creating and managing a classroom community within the application and present specific examples of student collaboration from the pilot studies. The session will also discuss the challenges faced by the instructors using the application and ways to minimize or resolve these challenges.

Level of Participation:

While this session will follow a lecture-format, it will incorporate multiple opportunities for audience engagement. It will open with audience polls in the style of Family Feud, discussing popular uses of web 2.0 platforms in the classroom among other topics. During the presentation, the audience will also have the opportunity for hands-on experience with the Microsoft Teams application and be able to actively follow along and participate in the presentation via question and answer and conversation threads in the application. 

Session Goals:

Individuals attending this presentation will be able to identify and discuss the basics of Microsoft Teams and its adaptability as a web 2.0 extension of the classroom. They will be able to compare their experiences with web 2.0 platforms and describe the advantages and disadvantages of various technologies, including Microsoft Teams. Lastly, they will be able to gain hands-on experience with the application, explore its features, and discuss the possibilities for future use.