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Managing online group exercises in Teams

teacher talking with student groups

On courses where students often work in groups and need to meet online, using Zoom and its breakout rooms may seem cumbersome, in which case you may use Teams – an alternative to Zoom that is integrated into the Canvas learning platform.

At the Faculty of Science’s Department of Biology, Christoffer Johansson is a lecturer on a course where students often work in groups. After trying various digital tools to manage such group work, he fell for a solution that uses Teams, as an integrated part of Canvas.

How Christoffer describes the process: 

In Canvas, each group has its own space in which the members can share material, discuss different topics, etc. In this space, which can be located by clicking the three dots to the right of the group name, you can, for example, create a page where you can add a link to a Teams meeting. Teams is integrated into Canvas and you can create a meeting link by clicking the blue v symbol in the text editor and selecting Microsoft Teams meetings. Follow the instructions and in the last step click Copy and the link will be included on the page. Now everyone with access to the link can join the meeting (i.e. the students in the group and lecturers).

The first time you present this functionality to your students, be sure also to provide some information on how to find the link. Later, they can continue to use the link repeatedly in their group exercises without requiring you, the lecturer, to start each meeting. You may, however, join the Teams meeting at any time and check in on the students’ progress and then move on to another group. The major advantages here are that you can use the groups you created in Canvas and that the link can be used several times.

It may seem a bit tricky for a lecturer to move between different group meetings, but there are some helpful pointers. When you enter a group’s space in Canvas (via the three dots to the right of the group name), you can switch between groups (Switch groups – in the top-left corner of Canvas). Once you have visited the different groups in Teams and written something in the group chat, you can also connect directly to the groups via the chat within Teams without having to go through Canvas.

Would you also like to use Teams for group work like Christoffer?

Student information

If your students have questions about Teams, information is available to them in the Student guide in Canvas under the Teams section.

Student guide in Canvas

Teams section in the student guide