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Using Microsoft Teams and Totara Learn for Virtual Delivery

The Oxford Group

19 March 2020

COVID-19 put paid to your face to face training plans? Why you might not need to invest in virtual classrooms

If you want to replace upcoming face-to-face training with virtual delivery while practicing social distancing or self-isolation as a result of the Coronavirus, you may be able to utilise existing communication tools rather than buying a new virtual classroom tool. Whether it’s for a webinar or a more interactive virtual classroom setting (more on the difference here), you can do a lot with your existing tech.

A tool like Microsoft Teams will make a great delivery platform, for example, and is available already in many organisations. It supports desktop, web, and mobile devices as well as providing dial-in for phones. The key to this is that a meeting URL is permanent, which in case you didn’t know for Teams is available with any meeting, as they can be opened at any time as long as participants have the link.

This guide will walk you through setting up a meeting and integrating it into Totara Learn for tracking attendance just as you would with a f2f session.

Set up the Meeting

Make sure you have the Teams for Outlook plugin

Create a new meeting in your Outlook calendar and add a Teams Meeting.

Don’t worry about inviting anyone or the date and time. You just need to get the Microsoft Teams link for the meeting so that you can copy this.


Create a Seminar activity in Totara Learn

In Totara Learn you want to create or update an existing seminar activity.

When selecting a room for a session add your joining instructions for the Teams meeting to the description. You can use a Teams meeting in exactly the same way as you use a physical room.

Tip – you can repeat this step 3-5 times (or more) to create up to 5 online meeting rooms that can then be reused across the site – just give each one a different name. The URL will always work and Totara Learn will prevent double-booking the room at the same time.

Tip – Create a Custom URL Field for the Teams URL via Site Administration -> Seminars -> Custom fields

You can then add a direct link to the Teams meeting as well by copying the URL link (right-click the “Join Microsoft Teams Meeting” and choose “Copy Hyperlink” ...

… and pasting in this custom field

 

All set

Well done – your virtual classroom is ready. When a user views the room details they will be able to sign-up and click the links to Teams and join the meeting.

 

Sending Reminders

When you configure the reminder emails you can include the description and custom filed in the email message so people can join straight from Outlook.

For the description field use the [details] placeholder. For your custom field if you entered the shortname “teamsurl” then you can use the placeholder [session:room:cf_teamsurl]

 

Managing my Teams

As a manager you can view your teams bookings via the My Teams interface in Totara Learn to confirm their attendance online in the same way as you would with f2f.

 

Some tips for virtual delivery

  • Flip the delivery to maximise interaction - if you want to speak to some slides for 30mins consider recording this in advance and using the together time for questions and discussion rather than presentation
  • As a quick method to create a recording, you can use your phone for a talking head or start a virtual meeting with just yourself and record it for a presentation.

  • Teams has a chat channel that can support questions, polls and other interactions
  • You can record sessions in Teams for participants to review after – check you have the participants permission beforehand if not covered by employment contract
  • Think about activities people can take within the session, for example having each participant share something
  • You can ask participants to complete other Totara activities (e.g. poll or quiz) before, during or after the session. For longer training events you might want to break up the day with some pre-reading, a group meeting, some online activity, and a final group meeting.
  • Use a forum activity to continue the discussion after the virtual session.


Want to know more about delivering great webinars and virtual classrooms? Our Ultimate guide to designing and delivering webinars will be out soon. Sign up for your copy here.