Jan 22 2020

How New Features in Collaboration Suites Power Classrooms

As the digital world evolves, so do the digital classroom offerings from Microsoft and Google.

The digital classroom creates possibilities for students by marrying computer fluency and conventional curricula. For educators, though, digital resources can become yet another responsibility. Two collaboration suites — Microsoft Teams and Google Classroom — aim to give schools the best of both worlds: efficient technology that encourages student participation while streamlining interactivity for teachers.

In the years since their respective launches (2015 for Google Classroom, 2017 for Microsoft Teams), each suite has continually responded to user feedback by improving functionality. Both offer improved grading features and new anti-plagiarism tools, along with other platform-specific upgrades. 

Here are some recent additions to each suite over the last year.

The Latest Features Available in Microsoft Teams for 2020

Share to Teams: A new launcher script lets users embed a “Share to Teams” button into third-party websites, allowing them to seamlessly share links with other team members without switching over into the Microsoft Teams platform. 

Grade Sync: This feature allows users to view grades and average scores within student information systems. A new integration with PowerSchool means that users of the leading K12 student information system will be able to adopt Grade Sync more easily. The function also lets educators see how an individual student is progressing over time.

Live captions: Microsoft Teams meetings can now be captioned. This add-on is useful to users with hearing impairments, and also opens up possibilities for other language learners, as meeting attendees can view live captions in up to six languages in addition to the language being spoken. 

Better communication outside the organization: Users are now able to communicate within Teams with people who are not on the same system. Hyperlinks, text formatting and screen sharing will all be supported beyond internal teams. Plus, Parent and Guardian Sync lets educators send weekly progress updates to students’ guardians.

Plagiarism detection: A partnership with anti-plagiarism toolmaker Turnitin will help educators spot problematic work. The integration is now in beta testing for Turnitin users.

READ MORE: Learn about how Microsoft Teams encourages future-ready skills

What’s New in Google Classroom for 2020

Grading improvements: New grading features from Classroom include a choice of grading system (total points or weighted by category) and the ability for students to see their overall grade, at the educator’s discretion.

Rubrics beta: Consistency in evaluating assignments helps students understand what’s expected of their work and can help educators apply a fair standard across the board. This new offering, currently in beta testing, shows students precisely in which areas their work needs to improve.

Drag and drop: As a part of Classroom’s overall move toward intuitive design, users can now drag and drop an entire topic to a specific location on the Classwork page. This gives users more flexibility in arranging how topics are displayed on the page, letting educators navigate students’ learning journeys.

Originality reports: In addition to using search tools to compare student work against the wealth of the web, this function flags missing citations. Teachers benefit because their time is freed up to better support students who feel the need to resort to copycatting; students who need help with proper citations benefit from the increased ability to detect their own errors.

MORE FROM EDTECH: Discover four ways to keep track of administrative work using Google Classroom

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