MS Teams for small group engagement
(Seminars and 121/small group meetings with students)
To support staff working remotely, IT Services has brought forward the availability of Microsoft Teams (MS Teams) to all staff across professional services and academic departments.
What is MS Teams?
MS Teams is an application designed to enable colleagues to collaborate and communicate regardless of where they are working from provided that they can access the internet. Users can voice call, video chat, or instant message staff from across the College, view and participate on chat message boards with the rest of their department.
Staff can share and work on documents together with colleagues; add comments, post messages, pictures and links; and comment on and discuss the things posted. Staff can also hold meetings in MS Teams with colleagues participating via video link, audio link, or instant messaging, allowing the College to continue with business as usual without having to be on campus.
MS Teams is available to all colleagues at Royal Holloway. Whilst we do not currently offer MS Teams to students, staff can still hold seminars and meetings with them without difficulty. Additionally, colleagues can meet with colleagues at other institutions and organisations, even if they don’t normally have access to Teams.
How can I use MS Teams for teaching and learning?
For teaching and learning, MS Teams will be used for two very specific purposes for the remainder of the teaching weeks this academic year:
- For academics to hold their timetabled campus seminars as webinars via an MS Teams meeting (recommended number of attendees to be no more than 20-30).
- For academics and academic support staff (e.g., CeDAS, DDS, and Personal Tutors) to hold ad hoc 121s or small group MS Teams meetings.
We are aware that some lecturers and even whole departments have recently brought in their own freeware (free to use) apps or have been using Skype in the past few weeks for the above while awaiting the implementation of an institution-wide managed and supported solution.
We ask that you please adopt MS Teams now and follow the directions below closely, as this will enable us to pull learning analytics data for monitoring student attendance of seminars and provide a consistent experience for all students.
Please hold your seminar sessions as per the set timetable. It is imperative that we adhere as closely as possible to the timetable for learning and teaching activities in order to provide a structured and professional environment for both students and staff and ensure all content is covered as planned before the end of the academic year.
How to use MS Teams for seminars
We will be instructing students to access their timetabled online seminars through MS Team Meeting links provided in their Moodle courses.
1. Prepare the Moodle content area in your course where students are going to be accessing the link for their seminar. This can be in the main content area for the teaching week, in a discussion board, etc. Please ensure that you clearly label the area where you will be inserting the MS Teams link in Moodle (include date and time and, if multiple lecturers are delivering a course, the lecturer name) so that students can find the link for their correct seminar group.
Leave this Moodle content in edit mode while you book the MS Teams meeting in Outlook webmail.
Please visit the Royal Holloway E-learning site if you need to access how-to materials for creating course content in Moodle.
2. In Outlook webmail (mail.rhul.ac.uk), create an MS Teams meeting for the timetabled seminar and invite yourself. Double click in your calendar for the date/time of your meeting. In the meeting details window, you should see the text ‘Add online meeting’ to the right of the place where you add a meeting location. Click on ‘Add online meeting’ and choose ‘Teams meeting’ from the dropdown menu, as below.
This will insert a ‘Join Microsoft Teams Meeting’ into the meeting detail area, as below.
When you are finished completing the necessary meeting information, click send.
3. Open the MS Teams meeting you just created in your diary. Right click on the ‘Join Microsoft Teams Meeting’ link in the outlook meeting and choose ‘copy hyperlink’.
4. Return to your Moodle area in edit mode and past in the link. This should result in the blue hypertext ‘Join Microsoft Teams Meeting’ link in your Moodle area and not a huge, messy link.
5. Finish editing your Moodle area as per normal. Don’t forget to unhide the Moodle area for students if you were adding content in hidden mode.
Joining and facilitating the seminar
Before joining your MS Teams seminar, you must first be logged into MS Teams on your machine. This will avoid triggering a holding ‘lobby’, which will mean that you will have to individually approve each student joining the meeting.
If you forget to do this and click on the Outlook meeting link to ‘Join Microsoft Teams Meeting’, you can also avoid the lobby by clicking on the words ‘sign in’ at the very bottom of the MS Teams pre-meeting setup window (this appears right after you click to join the meeting from Outlook).
To join your seminar as the ‘Presenter’, double click on the link in your Outlook calendar meeting – not on the link in Moodle. This will open MS Teams in your browser. You can turn video and audio on or off in the joining screen by pressing the buttons underneath your icon. If you don’t have a webcam or microphone, these options will have automatically been deselected.
Points to remember:
- MS Teams will allow you to enter the meeting space before the actual time of the meeting, so you can arrive a few minutes early to ensure you are there when students begin to join via the Moodle link.
- Keep in mind that students have a more limited experience in the MS Teams meeting window compared to staff. For instance, they will not be able to upload files into the chat pane. This is because staff have a licensed full version of MS Teams while students are accessing it as guest users.
- Be sure to hang up on the meeting before you move on to other work by clicking on the red telephone button on the toolbar that appears when you hover your mouse in the middle of the screen.
For the first seminar with a student group, please begin with a reminder that they should conduct themselves in the same manner they would during a face to face class on campus. Remember also, that just as in the classroom, you set the tone for students to follow during the webinar.
You may want to include links in your Moodle course to relevant College regulations and policies. Some relevant ones have been provided for you later in this document.
How to use MS Teams for 121s and small groups
As this involves fewer people and will not require attendance tracking, you can set up and facilitate these sessions using only Outlook webmail and MS Teams.
In Outlook webmail, create an MS Teams meeting (see step number two from the above section on how to use MS Teams for seminars for instructions), invite your students, and click send. You do not need to invite yourself for these uses of MS Teams as with seminars above.
For academics and school administrators who have elevated permission levels in their Moodle courses and can access the Course Administration menu on the bottom right of your course, you can copy student email addresses from the users list to paste into your Outlook meeting invite. This will help ensure you are including the correct students.
MS Teams FAQS
Please note that there is a known issue in Safari that can prevent Teams from working correctly. You will either need to allow cross-site tracking or use an alternative browser.
Where can I access training for MS Teams?
For a brief introduction to MS Teams, see Quick-start video from Microsoft.
The Royal Holloway web page for Remote Working has RHUL-specific information and basic how-to for using MS Teams in the ‘Collaborating with Colleagues’ section.
The Microsoft Educator Center has several free courses for using MS Teams in Education (Note that due to students not having licensed full MS Teams accounts, we are currently limited to only using MS Team meetings with students.)
The Microsoft Office 365 – MS Teams Youtube playlist has videos on general and education-specific use of Teams.
How to get help with MS Teams?
For technical support issues and queries for MS Teams, please contact the IT Service Desk.
For pedagogical support for using MS Teams for teaching and learning, please contact the E-Learning team.
Royal Holloway student conduct resources
Equal Opportunities and Harassment
Freedom of Speech
Student Conduct Regulations
Is MS Teams now our main collaboration tool for teaching and learning?
The rollout of MS Teams for staff communication and collaboration across the College forms part of a larger project. Due to the exceptional circumstances we now face because of Covid-19, we have accelerated the implementation of MS Teams to aid with remote working.
For the teaching and learning utilisation of MS Teams, this will be considered as a pilot and be used to inform consultations regarding E-learning technologies and practices that will form part of the upcoming portfolio of College strategies.
Unless you have been using other collaboration software this year consistently and extensively with a course, please use MS Teams rather than others (e.g., Zoom or WebEx). It is important that students do not have to use different platforms to access different tutorials within departments.