I chose to write about collaboration because of its increasing usage in our everyday space. Society is changing. My kids interact with a much larger circle of influence than I did growing up. Digital literacy and social media is an inseparable and powerful combination. Done correctly, this combination enhances the quality and efficiency of teaching, researching, learning, communicating, collaborating and creating. Technology is driving this impact on teaching and learning. For the intersection of social media and digital literacy to have the most impact, educators can't assume that students will embrace the idea because it's cool, digital and involves their mobile devices. Sure for the first moments, and I have seen it with each of my 3 girls, it engages them because its new. But the focus on the "shiny" doesn't last long with my girls, especially the youngest one, Bailey. They are an instant group in society. It is important for us to connect the dots. Schools adopt technology to build twenty-first-century skills such as critical thinking, global awareness, communication skills, information, digital literacy, productivity and creativity. Collaboration is the key mechanism by which all of these merge.
Types of Collaboration
Ever since Microsoft introduced OneNote Class Notebook and our work in helping Microsoft develop Professional Learning Communities in Modern Groups (see video below), I have thought of how we might look at management of collaboration differently.
As with OneNote Class Notebooks, OneNote Staff Notebooks is an app for Office365 that lets a principal or other school/district leader quickly set up a personal work space for every teacher, a content library for shared information and a collaboration space for everyone to collaborate—all within a single interface. With a Staff Notebook, administration and staff can save time, become more organized and collaborate more effectively. One of my favorite examples of this is how Pam Cohn, Executive Director for Secondary Schools, uses this to manage communication and collaboration with her several principals across the district.
When you look at collaboration in both the Class and Staff Notebook platform, you can broadcast information (one to many), you can fully collaborate (many to many), and you can work 1:1. OneNote Staff and Class Notebook offer these through an easy interface to distribute and manage content. This brings to my mind the idea if you manage content based upon how you collaborate, you might argue there is no need for the traditional file and folder structure day to day that you would see in a traditional file share. I think this is an excellent way of:
The other reason to manage content via OneNote instead of traditional file storage is the vast amount of content types that OneNote can reference or store. For example, OneNote integrates search features and indexing into a free form graphics and audio repository. I use it to search images (e.g., screen captures (BTW Snip for Windows 10 is amazing), embedded PDFs, pictures) for embedded text/content. If you have seen my notes I take in a session or meeting, you know I use digital inking pretty regularly. OneNote searches digital inking as text, yes, even my handwriting. It can replay audio concurrently with notes taken during the recording. The single most important feature for me personally is the free form work space and loose structure. Below are some very basic examples of free form notes I take as reflection from books.
Rob... You said this was about Microsoft Teams? Where does it fit in?
Think about email for a second. It is basically a digital representation of the formal letter. It contains an address, subject, body and signature. Now what do you use email for? What's going to happen to digital communication over the next five years? Will we still be weeding out unimportant messages and fishing through enormous email chains trying to find one pesky link to a business plan? Will we still battle to get to inbox zero (shout out to Keegan)? Email has mostly worn out its welcome.
That's where Microsoft Teams comes in. Think of authentic conversation. Look at the toolbar down below. It identifies the amount of different artifacts used today in our digital conversations.
Mix this conversation with real time collaboration, and dash a bit of provisioned identities via a school data sync, and you have a recipe for classroom learning in and out of the classroom walls.
It is really important to point out that digital literacy is a skill that is learned. It isn't something our new generations coming up already know. As we look at digital equity and access, continuous emphasis on digital citizenship and literacy are important. That is why I love Microsoft Teams to scaffold features and permissions as kids progress through their learning. From a tenant level, you can set specific permissions that inherit down to the end user. That is usual. But with Teams, the teacher has the ability to set his/her own permissions for the class for several features. This allows a greater personalized level of experience as the teacher assesses each classroom to their digital literacy abilities.
Teams also brings application rich integrations. Obviously OneNote is integrated since I discussed it from the beginning of this post. But moreover, there are many applications that can be integrated and connected to engage in this informal conversation model. For me, Teams is the next step. Will you make it your next step in classroom and team collaboration?