Microsoft Announces New Teams Features for Education

Posted on June 15, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft 365, Office 365 with 11 Comments

Microsoft today revealed that it is adding numerous new education features to Teams in anticipation of the coming school year.

“It’s more important than ever to help educators find ways to connect with students and keep them engaged, motivated, and safe in a digital world,” Microsoft general manager of Education Barbara Holzapfel writes. “New remote learning formats require new thinking to create compelling, engaging, and inclusive content. To ensure strong student engagement across different activities and maintain secure digital classrooms, educators are turning to a central hub of digital tools for remote learning. In fact, more than 150 million students, faculty, institutional leaders, and teachers have been actively using Microsoft Education products—with Teams for Education as that hub—to engage students in remote learning.”

With that in mind, Microsoft is announcing the following new features for Teams:

49 participants on-screen during a video call. Microsoft is expanding the Teams grid view to 7×7, which means you’ll be able to see up to 49 participants at once on a single screen.

Virtual Breakout Rooms. Educators will be able to create virtual Breakout Rooms in Teams so that students can meet and collaborate in small groups.

Participation features. Teams for education is picking up the Raise Your Hand feature so students can ask and answer questions during classes, and in addition to Attendance Reports and Class Insights, educators will gain access to a new trends view coming in time for fall.

Security and control over the classroom. Educators will get new meeting options in Teams that “prevent students from starting meetings unattended, let educators determine who can present in a meeting, and give educators the ability to create a Meeting Lobby to ensure only assigned students can join a meeting—adding to Microsoft’s approach to privacy and security, which supports more than 90 regulatory and industry standards, including the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) for the security of students and children.”

New custom background options. Students and educators will be able to customize their background images to personalize their own learning space.

Microsoft says that these features will be available by the end of the summer.

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Comments (13)

13 responses to “Microsoft Announces New Teams Features for Education”

  1. gregsedwards

    I love Teams, but I still find it awkward as hell to think about students and teachers (or families for that matter) using a tool that's so obviously designed for businesses. Part of me wonders why they didn't just call this SKU "Microsoft Classes" instead. Down the road when they decide to open this up to families, they could have marketed a customized version called "Microsoft Families."

    • lwetzel

      In reply to gregsedwards:

      My wife is a college professor. She started with Zoom when the virus forced them from the classroom. Loved it. Her school said from the summer term on they had to use Teams, Blackboard or WebEx but not Zoom. Well Teams couldn't have her 20 - 30 students on at same time. She needed to monitor them during tests and lectures. Blackboard is more of a post it and let them do it on their own. WebEx didn't have a Whiteboard feature and she says its only advantage more than 9 students at a time. But it had many cons.


      I showed This article and she is excited that in the Fall she can do Teams and be back to the abilities she had in Zoom. I have watched her struggle with these tools and Her time with Zoom really worked. Don't know why (could be the security issues) the school refused to let them use Zoom.

      • proftheory

        In reply to lwetzel:

        It could be the "connection" the founder has to China since he was born, raised, and educated there. Also that glitch where Zoom calls were routed through servers in China. As far as I know Webex, Teams/Skype, Meets don't have such problems since they don't have servers in China.

    • paulkocz

      In reply to gregsedwards:

      Ran it in the Primary School that I am IT Admin for. 305+ kids used it every day. While some of these newer features would have been good at the time, it ran really well. Kids were able to use the Assignments and Onenote features that are built into Teams. Teachers picked it up really easily as well. The best part is there is no chance of "Zoombombing,"etc. as the student can only connect with Office365 credentials. It meant rolling it out and having it ready for teachers took no time at all. The Teams "Education" edition has additional features that you don't see in the Business version. Having one all-in-one application definitely has it's benefits.

      • gregsedwards

        In reply to paulkocz:

        I had a similar experience as the parent of a seventh grader. His school did not standardize on a platform for distance learning, and most of his classes used Zoom. However, his ELA class took advantage of the school's Office 365 access and ran their virtual meetings through Teams. Night and day difference...

        In the Zoom-powered classes, the teacher generally sent the students' parents an email with the Zoom meeting information, which we were always struggling to find five minutes before the session started. He would just log into Zoom as one of us, because it's just easier to do that than to manually type in the credentials or forward the email to him and expect him to find it.

        By contrast, in the Teams-powered ELA class, he just logged into Office.com with his school credentials, clicked Teams, and the meeting was there waiting for him, along with a class notebook. Plus, we discovered that he has OneDrive and Office web apps available to use, as well as a host of other SSO-enabled third-party services, such as McGraw-Hill and Pearson.

        Why aren't more schools aren't using the hell out of Teams and Microsoft 365?

  2. nbplopes

    This is just the regular features with an education label and for the peculiar we need to wait until when the school opens. Same s...

  3. bluvg

    One feature I would LOVE is if Teams didn't kill your computer when trying to do anything else at the same time as a video call, especially with screen sharing. Even on a recent i5-8350U laptop with 16 GB RAM/NVMe storage, Teams brings it to its knees.

    • thurottgem

      In reply to bluvg:

      I totally agree! As someone that currently teaches remotely for a university (Zoom) and a high school (Teams), it's unbelievable that my powerful desktop PC freezes in Teams when doing screen sharing or just navigating through different channels.


      Zoom has been pretty solid for me which makes Teams look very sluggish and unstable in comparison.

    • Paul Thurrott

      I use Teams every day and don't experience that.

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