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In computer technology, statistics, and business courses that I have taught over the past decade, students have worked in groups/teams. I assumed students communicated with teammates within the Learning Management System (LMS). In 2017, I was surprised to discover students were using GroupMe. To help me understand the attraction, I signed up for a GroupMe account. I was underwhelmed with its purpose but understood the ease of the application. I was also learning more about Slack, thinking it was a much better tool for communication and collaboration, and realizing that communicating within the LMS was not ideal, even awkward, and not real world. However, Slack was not readily available for student use, so when our institution introduced Microsoft Teams in 2020, I began exploring using Microsoft Teams for teamwork/projects because it is a real-world tool that students will likely use/encounter after college. I have been using Microsoft Teams consistently since Fall 2020. Using Microsoft Teams moves students from conceptual to applicable knowledge related to teamwork, communication, and even leadership skills. Microsoft Teams can supplement any content/course project. Requiring students to use Microsoft Teams as it would be used in the workplace allows teams to choose when they meet to collaborate, manage their “channel,” and ultimately create their project. All the work leading up to the final deliverable is archived in one space accessible by instructor (manager) as would be in the real world. The assessment(s) takes on a level of authenticity that is missing with a traditional LMS. In this reflective essay, I will show how Microsoft Teams supports authentic assessment while engaging students in a real-world technology that adds to their post-undergraduate toolkit and future success.
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