Guest post – DigiLearn: 8 ways to enhance student engagement with Microsoft Teams

Published by Caroline Carlin on

Author: Debi Spencer – Senior Lecturer in the School of Sport & Health Sciences at UCLan

Engaging students is a challenge we all face as academics today. With the myriad of tools available it can sometimes seem difficult to find the best way to engage students in active teaching and learning to enhance their education experience. Pedagogic evidence supports the use of active learning approaches to deliver creative curriculum across the education spectrum. (Jackson & Sullivan, 1999; Lillyman, Gutteridge, & Berridge, 2011; Lin, Han, Pan, & Chen, 2015). Active involvement in teaching, learning and assessment enables students to take control of their learning journey. Ownership of their learning experience will engage students to develop and create a ‘fun’ experience (Robinson 2006). Why shouldn’t learning be fun? Creativity in teaching and learning can take many forms, with some using the arts as a media within teaching, learning and assessment (Uppal, Davies, Knowles, & Kandell, 2014). Creating artefacts through drawing, photography and textiles are other examples of ways to develop creativity in education (Aranda, Goeas, Davies, Radcliffe, & Christoforou, 2015; Casey, 2009; Hydo, Marcyjanik, Zorn, & Hooper, 2007). Digital tools can also provide creativity which can be used in conjunction with arts and craft-based creativity, or as a tool to enhance the learning experience (Perry, 2006). I use all these approaches in my teaching, learning and assessment practice and have now found the perfect platform to deliver these to my students without the need for multiple logins and separate apps. Microsoft Teams provides me with an interactive platform to incorporate the creative digital tools to enhance the students’ learning journey. It also encourages students to be creative and to have fun.

Debi Spencer

1) OneNote Class Notebook

Using Class Notebook, students have access to build a resource of study material. They are able to work on draft assessments and receive feedback from the course team, directly in their notebook. Students working on collaborative projects or activities, are able to use the collaborative space to share ideas and review core material. This can also be used to develop discussion on key issues within the course content. The handout and notes sections enable students to keep resources in one place, alongside any reflections they develop throughout their learning journey.

2) Wakelet

Wakelet is a digital platform which enables me to collect, curate and share resources with students and colleagues. As curator to the resources, I can ensure that these meet the teaching, learning and assessment strategy within academic programmes. It has also enabled me to gather a diverse range of resources which benefit my academic role. Using the Wakelet app within Microsoft Teams means that this I have a ‘live’ board, which is always up to date for students to access the resources I gather. One application of this, is as a revision resource for students preparing for summative examinations.             

3) Flipgrid

I use Flipgrid in all modules to support discussion and collaboration. Within one module I also use Flipgrid as formative assessment, through the development of a blog. Students share their ideas and discuss concepts they are studying with each other to generate discussion. This helps them to construct the summative assessment, which is an online blog developed using Microsoft Sway. The learning and assessment journey in this context, provides the students with the opportunity to develop peer review skills within the assessment strategy.

4) Microsoft Sway

Using Sway, students construct their summative blog which is a personal and professional reflection and exploration of the concepts of Transcultural Health and Social Care, related to their professional role. These are shared on Teams, and the students peer review their blogs to offer critique and discussion. The students have found they are more able to express their thoughts and beliefs using the diverse and creative tools that are available in Sway. Using images, weblinks, music and much more to demonstrate their knowledge and skill, whilst incorporating evidence based critical analysis in the final submission. I have seen a marked enhancement in student achievement using this assessment approach.

5) Microsoft Forms

Students are required to submit information in multiple ways across different modules, and I have found that adding Forms to the Team has streamlined these activities. In one module, I use Forms for submission of an abstract that students submit for their student conference. In another module, the dissertation students submit their proposal using Forms. Student feedback is also obtained using Forms within Teams.

6) Microsoft Planner

I have introduced Planner to modules where students have activity to undertake to help keep them on track with projects. This is a recent development and I hope to see this have greater benefit in the future. It provides the course team and students with access to ongoing progress throughout project work.

7) Virtual Learning Environment

Using the weblink facility, I include a tab to our University’s VLE. This enables direct access from the module Team space and provides a seamless experience. Integration of the VLE – as advocated by the University, alongside the versatility of Microsoft Teams, enhances the student experience and integrates the learning resources from the VLE with those in Teams.

8) Microsoft Stream

Online learning can take several forms. I record online chat sessions in Stream from the eLearn provision, so that students can access the recordings as a resource to support their teaching and learning. Accessibility from any device allows students to engage with online sessions more readily whether on campus, at home or at work.


Aranda, K., Goeas, S., Davies, S., Radcliffe, M., & Christoforou, A. (2015). Let’s go outside: using photography to explore values and culture in mental health nursing. Journal of Psychiatric & Mental Health Nursing, 22(5), 306-315. doi:10.1111/jpm.12201

Casey, B. (2009). Arts-based inquiry in nursing education. Contemporary Nurse: A Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession, 32(1-2), 69-82.

Hydo, S. K., Marcyjanik, D. L., Zorn, C. R., & Hooper, N. M. (2007). Art as a scaffolding teaching strategy in baccalaureate nursing education. International Journal of Nursing Education Scholarship, 4(1), 1-13.

Jackson, D., & Sullivan, J. R. (1999). Integrating the creative arts into a midwifery curriculum: a teaching innovation report. Nurse Education Today, 19(7), 527-532.

Lillyman, S., Gutteridge, R., & Berridge, P. (2011). Using a storyboarding technique in the classroom to address end of life experiences in practice and engage student nurses in deeper reflection. Nurse Education in Practice, 11(3), 179-185. doi:10.1016/j.nepr.2010.08.006

Lin, C.-C., Han, C.-Y., Pan, I. J., & Chen, L.-C. (2015). The teaching-learning approach and critical thinking development: a qualitative exploration of Taiwanese nursing students. Journal Of Professional Nursing: Official Journal Of The American Association Of Colleges Of Nursing, 31(2), 149-157. doi:10.1016/j.profnurs.2014.07.001

Perry, B. (2006). Using photographic images as an interactive online teaching strategy. Internet & Higher Education, 9(3), 229-240. doi:10.1016/j.iheduc.2006.06.008

Robinson, K., (2006). Do Schools Kill Creativity. TED Ideas Worth Spreading, accessed 08-02-2020

Uppal, E. e. u. s. a. u., Davies, S. s. e. d. s. a. u., Knowles, H. h. b. o. u., & Kandell, S. (2014). The art of midwifery: Can creative images of birth enhance holistic care? Nurse Education in Practice, 14(3), 311-318. doi:10.1016/j.nepr.2014.01.013


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