Microsoft's Teams communication platform for organizations has been around for about two and a half years, and it started getting a more educational focus around two years ago. To celebrate the occasion, the company today announced a series of improvements to the service, which are rolling out in time to be used by schools when back-to-school season hits.
For starters, Microsoft has redesigned the home page for Teams for Education, introducing a new grid view that lets users get to their assignments, channels, and conversations more quickly. This replaces the list of Teams that used to be displayed. Microsoft has also added the ability to create announcement posts, as well as Praise cards, which let teachers recognize their students' efforts.
Teachers also now get a gradebook, which lets them see their students grades and averages across every assignment in the class, and a new Grade Sync feature lets them sync that information to PowerSchool and other student information systems. It's also possible to see the individual progress of a student throughout the class. Microsoft has also made it possible to import existing Class Notebooks from OneNote, so it's no longer necessary to create a new one for a new team.
Lastly, Microsoft has introduced new sharing tools, such as a new Share to Teams button that EdTech companies can integrate into their platforms, making it easier for teachers to send assignments to their students. Soon, it will also be possible for teachers to set up weekly e-mails that can be used to let parents know how their child is progressing within the class. Lastly, Microsoft says that live captions, announced a few months ago, are now available.
Some of these features were previously announced at Bett 2019 back in January, and there's more on the way, including integration with Turnitin, MakeCode assignment activities, and mobile grading.