“Teams is bringing us together”: How Microsoft’s tools are helping Imperial College London staff and students

Imperial College London has set up a virtual “common room” in Microsoft Teams that students can use 24 hours a day to chat with friends and collaborate on classwork.

The move is part of a rollout of Microsoft tools across one of the top universities in the world, which is helping staff to work together to help students continue learning.

More than 22,500 people at Imperial are now using Teams. They are also storing over 430 terabytes of data on OneDrive for Business, and Office 365 delivers more than 18 million emails into user mailboxes each month.

Adrian Mannall, the Microsoft Relationship Manager at Imperial, said: “Before the Coronavirus pandemic, almost all teaching was on-campus. We are now using Teams to bring classes together, or even entire year groups of 150 students. They are also using Teams to discuss subjects with teachers and their assistants. Students in all year groups can also use Imperial’s virtual common room at any time of day to chat or hold video calls with each other, as well as get help and support. The students like Teams.”

Imperial is recognised across the world for its work in science, medicine, business and engineering and is currently tracking the spread of COVID-19 globally. The university has used Teams to run live events covering the virus and its impact, as well as a seminar for neo-natal specialists and a half-day conference for cardiologists that featured 32 different speakers.

Other live events focused on healthcare have been watched by experts in Ireland, Japan, Hong Kong and the US.

Imperial’s Centre for Academic English, which helps overseas students with English language requirements, is using Teams and Office 365 tools such as Forms to continue to provide support to pupils and give them the opportunity to work together and learn from each other.

Tools such as Teams and Office 365 have become the norm in Imperial, leading to a rise in demand for more technology from students.

“The biggest challenge we have at the moment is answering all the queries we get from students and staff,” Mannall said. “People want to do new and specific things in Teams, they want to push the envelope and see what it can do. I am helping them do that.”

Chris Rothwell, Director of Education at Microsoft, said: “Continuing to communicate and collaborate with friends and colleagues when they are unable to be together is incredibly important, especially at this time. I’m delighted to see that Imperial is using Microsoft technology to help students keep learning, lecturers keep teaching and researchers continuing with their vital work, which ensures the UK is at the cutting-edge of science and technology.”

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