Microsoft Teams has many features under the hood and, when used correctly, creates a robust application that enables collaboration that can improve individual or group productivity. But at the same time, when the tool is misused, it can have a significant impact on your organization.
In schools, Teams is used differently than in the corporate world – mainly because you have a much younger population using the tool and you need to increase tracking of individuals for unapproved activities.
One area that is prone to abuse is the 1: 1 chat feature. At present there is no easy way to stop individual users from chatting and cyberbullying being a very real concern in today’s society. Today, Teams needs better moderation tools for the education sector.
Coming in May, Microsoft will roll out a new ‘supervised chat’ option which, as the name suggests, can allow a teacher or administrator to monitor individual chats – this feature was announced with MC246703.
When this option becomes available, you will be able to update your messaging policies to enable the feature that requires the presence of a supervisor, or at a minimum, part of the chat for 1: 1 conversations, but this is not a roundabout way of secretly monitoring conversations.
If you enable this feature for your tenant, the way it works is that it will prevent users from starting new chats unless a supervisor is present. Microsoft states that “when chat supervision is enabled, supervisors are not allowed to leave chats and other participants are not allowed to delete them, ensuring that all chats are properly supervised.
It sounds like a “supervisor” that is going to be added to each conversation, effectively making it a group chat, and you cannot remove that user from the conversation. This will allow the supervisor to monitor the conversation and should help reduce abuse or other unapproved activity. From what we know today, it could cause a bit of chaos if you have a large class with a lot of conversation, which means that it may be better to assign the supervisor role to someone else. other than the teacher.
There are a few important caveats, especially that when you enable this feature, it is not retroactive. This means that all existing conversations will remain unsupervised and the same will apply to existing meetings and channels.
This is a good step for teams, especially in the education segment, where 1: 1 conversations require additional monitoring. But, I’ll have to dig deeper into the feature once it becomes available to better understand how the feature works and admin experience, as that might create a bit of noise as well.