Microsoft Teams - now with Breakout Rooms! And a block in Moodle!

See recent changes to Microsoft Teams including the Teams block in Moodle and the availability of breakout rooms in Teams meetings.

Microsoft Teams is steadily establishing itself as a valuable tool for collaboration and communication in online learning at Monash. A couple of recent changes look set to dramatically enhance the functionality and ease of use of Teams.

Breakout rooms in Teams virtual meetings

A major strength of Zoom has been the ability to put students in breakout rooms for small group activities. This is now (finally) also available in Teams. Breakout rooms work essentially the same in Teams as they do in Zoom - you can manually or automatically allocate students to the breakout room, broadcast messages to rooms simultaneously and join rooms as needed to assist students.

We have added information about using Breakout Rooms to our Communication in MS Teams guide.

So why use Teams to do something that I could already do elsewhere? The power of Teams is that it serves as both a synchronous and an asynchronous space for learning and teaching. Once a Zoom meeting ends, you can’t come back to the conversation when you have a sudden 3am brainwave. Teams let you continue the discussion and keep working on the files that you have been developing over time. (N.B - you can’t continue breakout room chats after the room has been closed but you still have access to what was shared)

The Teams block in Moodle

Creating a team in MS Teams for your unit is now as easy as adding a block to your Moodle unit. From the block you can create a corresponding team and this will automatically be populated with your students and teaching staff, in member and owner roles respectively. If a student joins or leaves your unit later, this change is automatically reflected in the team.

The block also provides a convenient link directly to Teams, creating a seamless way to add the enhanced communication and collaboration functionality of Teams to your online space.

Ok but why should I use Teams at all?

Teams can help to prepare your students for life after study. Extending their employability skills relating to communication and collaboration, as well as creating opportunities for them to become more familiar with the Microsoft Office Suite is an important part of their development as whole people.