Advocates of blended learning suggest that the approach can be most productive when it is used by combining the best of classroom instruction with the best of web-based delivery, allowing for increased peer-to-peer collaboration and teacher/student interaction. SharePoint Team Sites in Office 365 is a great tool that can used to create a powerful blended learning environment.
Team sites are a way for teachers to extend their classrooms to a virtual setting. A team site can be set up as a class site with a calendar of upcoming events, drop-boxes for homework, links to Internet resources, embedded video, and OneNote notebook and collaboration through a class OneNote Notebook.
The following video is from our series of quick tips from teachers, and in it Sonja Delafosse – Instruction Technology Coordinator at Everett School District – looks at how one educator is using a SharePoint team site with her science class as a basis for blended learning:
There are a number of ways in which you can customise a SharePoint Team Site within Office 365, so using the above video as an example, we’ve seen how the teacher has included the following:
Customisable themes - making her SharePoint Team Site easily recognisable to its users
Announcement App - important information about classes and schedules can be posted here in the form of headline announcements, which can be clicked on in order to reveal more details.
Discussion Board – the teacher uses this to set an entry task each and, and in the video we see how clicking on the topic expands the view to show the responses of the students.
Document Libraries – these can be created so that students have read-only access (for course materials), or so that they have read-write capabilities (for OneNote Class Notebooks).
Units of study – lists of links to useful websites and a library containing project information documents for a particular unit of study can be grouped together.
Hiding units - When complete, units can be hidden from the main view so that only the current information is visible, making the SharePoint Team Site easier to navigate with only the most relevant information on display at the top, while hidden units can be found from the contents menu.
Collaboration areas – the Discussion Board and editable libraries of information give students areas to collaborate and interact, while creating a OneNote Class Notebook that can be accessed from the Site Contents provides another area in which everyone can work together.
We hope this has given you some ideas about how you can use SharePoint Team Sites within Office 365 to create a powerful blended learning environment. More videos featuring teachers discussing the way they use various Microsoft technologies in the classroom are in the works, and we’ll be sharing these on a regular basis. If of course you have your own stories, please feel free to share them!
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