Feb 26 2021

Online Resources Help Educators Move to Microsoft Teams

With a July 31 end date for Skype for Business, Microsoft offers support to change videoconferencing platforms.

With Skype for Business set to retire on July 31, IT leaders at many higher education institutions will need to start thinking about transitioning to new videoconferencing systems, such as Microsoft Teams.

The software giant has deployed a number of resources to help with the change, including upgrade planning workshops, free training with instructors and FastTrack onboarding assistance.

Ed McCallister, who completed the transition from Skype to Teams in 2019 as CIO for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, says it’s important to train employees and communicate effectively to make the change happen smoothly.

Most universities and colleges have a diverse range of end users, so it helps to craft strategies addressing each demographic’s needs. Developing an overall change management plan and conducting “road shows” for users throughout the organization can help, McCallister says.

“My best tip for making the transition from Skype to Teams is to know your users and build initial communications and training materials around the functionality they use today,” he says. “Making a cheat sheet that draws connections between the old tool and the new one will really put end users at ease, even if the changes seem obvious to IT.”

Online Planning Workshops Help with Teams Transition

Microsoft is offering a series of hourlong, interactive upgrade planning workshops that provide best practices and share key migration considerations. The Plan your Upgrade sessions are aimed at a wide audience of stakeholders.

“Those workshops seem like they could be helpful for any organization that isn’t sure how to get started with the upgrade,” McCallister points out.

Microsoft is also offering live online trainings free of charge, starting with a Teams knowledge check to help users find the right classes for them. On-demand end-user training is supported by six YouTube videos, ranging from 16 minutes to more than an hour in length. The final video is dedicated solely to making the switch.

“These classes can help organizations by augmenting the other training and communication materials sent to users as part of the transition to Teams,” McCallister says. “It would be nearly impossible for IT staff alone to train everyone working different shifts across multiple hospitals or business units.”

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Microsoft’s FastTrack Can Facilitate the Move to Teams

Like the upgrade planning workshops, FastTrack can assist with creating a game plan to tackle the migration, but McCallister notes that getting the most mileage out of this resource depends on an organization’s current environment.

The FastTrack service is available for free to customers with eligible subscriptions to Microsoft 365, Azure or Dynamics 365. It includes curated, self-guided Microsoft 365 resources, an adoption kit with templates and additional adoption tools.

“FastTrack may be especially useful if you’re also trying to migrate file shares to Teams, but I recommend focusing on the direct replacement of Skype first so users don’t feel overwhelmed by all the change,” McCallister says.

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