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Microsoft unveils 1,000-person webinars and other Teams features for education

Menu showing the Disable Camera feature in a Teams meeting

Microsoft's spring Ignite event is set to begin today, and a bunch of major announcements are already out there. Along with them, Microsoft has revealed the February updates to Teams for education users. Many of the features announced here were also mentioned in the announcements from Ignite, including the new dynamic view, presenter mode, Microsoft Teams Connect, and more.

Other features weren't mentioned there, though, like support for webinars with up to 1,000 people. Webinars are more interactive than video broadcasts, and attendees can use video, voice, or chat, as long as the host allows it. If the webinar grows too big, it will automatically transform into a video-only broadcast, which can support up to 10,000 people normally, but through the end of 2021, it will actually allow up to 20,000 attendees. Both of these features will be available this month.

Microsoft is also making it possible to get reports on webinar attendees, such as who attended and who didn't, how long they were on the webinar, and so on. Some attendee reporting capabilities will be available this month, but more are coming later on. And if you want to organize better before the meeting, it'll soon be possible to create attendee registration pages, complete with email confirmations so attendees can join more easily.

Attendee registration in Microsoft Teams

There are also new meeting controls making their way to Teams. First, there's a new way to ensure only invited users join a meeting, by allowing them to bypass the meeting lobby. With this option, organizers can ensure the right people join the meeting without monitoring the lobby constantly and allowing participants in one by one. There's also a new option to disable the meeting chat or to only allow the chat to go on as long as the meeting lasts.

Both of those features are available now for private meetings, but soon organizers will be able to force disable video for other meeting participants. It was already possible to hard mute users, and this allows the same for video so it's harder to disturb a class, for instance.

Finally, assignments in Teams have a couple of new improvements. When educators add links to assignment resources, those links can now have a small link preview with a title and thumbnail image. Meanwhile, students can now submit larger files in assignments, up from 50MB to 500MB.

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