School Data Sync – Update to Changes to Class Teams Provisioning

1 April, 2020

School Data Sync – Update to Changes to Class Teams Provisioning

An update about the changes to class teams provisioning.

Update: Microsoft is re-enabling the automatic creating of Teams by SDS.

Quick update on the situation with SDS as we had a meeting with Microsoft yesterday. Obviously there has been unprecedented demand for Teams and their new policy is that Teams creation will be Teacher led. So that teachers who want to use Teams can, and those that don’t want to use Teams don’t consume resources which could be used by those who want to use Teams.

They are aware that the current solution is not great and are in the process of releasing a better solution. This is going into beta today or tomorrow and all being well, they are hoping to release in the next couple of weeks. It will be a similar process in that teachers will need to create the Teams, however there will be an option to pick from their class groups as populated by SDS. This will be a pick list of just their classes, so they won’t need to search the directory by class name. This will also synchronise the group membership with Teams so when we get back to normal and students are changing class, then their Teams memberships will change.

Longer term they are looking to improve the experience when teachers first log in – i.e. the blank screen problem. The aim being that they will be able to see which of their classes are not already Teams and have a one click experience to create them.

There are already existing programmatic ways of creating education Teams which means that the group members are synchronised with Teams membership. So, if you are using a third-party provisioning supplier, they can add support for these, if they are not already using them. However, if using an automated tool, have a think about whether you need the entire roster created as Teams. If unnecessarily creating Teams, you will be consuming resources that could be used by others. 

In summary, Microsoft are working hard to support teachers with Teams, but the demand has meant that they have had to throttle resources and target those who are/will be using it. Improvements are coming, some short term, others further away. SDS will be required to populate the underlying data so that teachers can create their teams easily. The biggest problem has been the way the change has been communicated, or not, which they acknowledge.

We already have existing support for creating Teams in our Salamander Integration Suite product, which are synchronised with the Office 365 groups. We will discuss and advise with customers the implications of this and how widely the Teams will be used, but ultimately if the customer wants a full roll-out they will get a full roll-out.

Currently we have decided not to add support for automating Teams creation in our free SDS utility. It will still upload the data to SDS so users and groups are created, but we are not extending it to automatically create teams. This is to support the effort Microsoft is making to make the Teams’ creation teacher led. As the utility is freely downloaded, we do not have the same relationship with its users to advise as we do with our customers.

Richard Willis

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