The spread of the pandemic has encouraged many educational institutions around the globe to adopt online solutions for conducting their classes. Students and teachers are adopting new methods to learn and teach. Microsoft estimates that 61% of the users of the Microsoft Education community will adopt a hybrid learning environment mixing remote and classroom learning. Additionally, 87% of users expect technology to play a more significant role once teaching resumes in institutions. Based on these findings, Microsoft has renewed its focus on improving its online collaboration tool, Microsoft Teams for Education to facilitate remote learning.
Increased Maximum Number of Participants Visible During Teams Calls
One of the most important upgrades in Microsoft Teams that have been included specifically to cater to the needs of organizations in the Educational sector is the expansion of Teams grid view. With this update, users will be able to see 7*7 (49 participants) on one screen. The general availability of this feature along with the inclusion of Breakout Rooms for smaller groups of students in the Teams environment is expected to enrich the experience of using the application.
Bridging Gaps with Competitors
With this ability to display 49 users simultaneously on a single screen during a video conference call, Microsoft will be closing the gap, and in some cases, beating the capabilities of competing applications. While the Zoom application supports a comparable 49 users, Cisco WebEx and Google Hangouts can display only 25 users.
Other Important Improvement in Microsoft Teams
While the visibility of more faces can increase social and emotional engagement, Microsoft also has learned that educators would like to see greater participation. This had led to the introduction of the Hand Raise feature on ongoing conference calls. Additionally, for Educators, Attendance Reports and Class Insights will be introduced to provide intelligent new metrics to measure engagement.
Microsoft is also adding a new meeting option in Teams that educators can use to control the users who are attending meetings. A Meeting Lobby can be used to allow only designated students the right to join meetings. This, along with other additions enhances the privacy and security measures by making the solution compliant to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and other regulatory standards.
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