Mar 15 2021

How Online Resources Can Help K–12 Move from Skype to Microsoft Teams

With Skype for Business closing down on July 31, Microsoft offers support to change videoconferencing platforms.

With Skype for Business set to retire on July 31, many school districts may need a plan for moving to a new videoconferencing system, such as Microsoft Teams.

The software giant has deployed a number of resources to help smooth the transition, including upgrade planning workshops; free, instructor-led training; 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 ensure a smooth changeover.

With a diverse range of end users, including students at all grade levels, schools need strategies that address each educator’s unique needs. Developing an overall change management plan and conducting “road shows” for users throughout the organization can help, McCallister said.

“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 said. “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, available now through March 31, 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 pointed out.

Microsoft is also offering free, live online training, starting with a Teams knowledge check to help users find the right class with which to begin. On-demand end-user training is supported by six YouTube videos, which range 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 said. “It would be nearly impossible for IT staff alone to train everyone.”

LEARN MORE: Explore 5 ways to create a virtual classroom with Microsoft Teams.

Microsoft’s FastTrack Can Facilitate the Move to Teams

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

The FastTrack service is free to customers with eligible subscriptions to Microsoft 365, Azure or Dynamics 365. It includes curated Microsoft 365 self-guided 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,” McCallister said, “but I recommend focusing on the direct replacement of Skype first so users don’t feel overwhelmed by all the change.”

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