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Build an interactive virtual classroom in Microsoft Teams

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Exploring Microsoft Teams – Interactive Image
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You’ve no doubt seen lots of teachers sharing their interactive virtual classroom images – a visually-friendly way to connect with your learners via an online platform where they can click on elements in the picture to view details of learning activities, or view videos, or read books chosen for the class, or click on a link to online resources to support their learning.

Click on this link to see the image above as an interactive virtual classroom shared as a PowerPoint show

Click on this link to see the image above as an interactive virtual classroom shared as a PDF

You can set up an interactive virtual classroom image in several online platforms and using a variety of digital tools. This blogpost is specifically looking at how to do so if your school uses Microsoft Teams.

What you need to set this up in Microsoft Teams

You will need the following to set up your interactive virtual classroom image:

  1. PowerPoint in which the interactive virtual classroom image will be built
  2. Images which you are free to use (this post will show where to access these) to create the background and items in the classroom.
  3. Your Bitmoji character (though if you don’t want t use a cartoon-style Bitmoji character you can alternatively use the inbuilt stock character images in PowerPoint online, or a cartoon-style image you have created with another digital tool).
  4. The links to the resources you will be adding as interactive links to the image (whether that’s videos or online resources, whether somewhere in the class files in Microsoft Teams or shared somewhere external to the class Team).
  5. Microsoft Teams for your class – where you will share the pdf with clickable links (you can also choose to use PowerPoint online from your OneDrive if you prefer to share it as a PowerPoint show).

How to set up you virtual classroom image in PowerPoint

View this super detailed step-by-step video by Brian White showing how to create the virtual classroom slide in PowerPoint online – this includes how to use the Bitmoji plugin in the Chrome browser, how to search within PowerPoint online for transparent backgrounds, how to add items for the class scene, how to add a video from YouTube as an embedded video, and how to create the link from a shared PowerPoint link which makes it a play-only view for pupils to interact with it – by adding &amp=&action=embedview to the end of the weblink from your shared PowerPoint link.

This how-to video by Patricia Foley guides you through how to create a virtual classroom using PowerPoint

This video on the Mrs M Shares YouTube channel gives a step by step guide to creating your virtual classroom in PowerPoint, with lots of advice about adding items to your classroom scene.

This video (on the Mrs M Shares YouTube channel) shows how to add interactive elements to your PowerPoint image for your virtual classroom

Interactive elements will be the links you attach to the individual items so when clicked on by your learners they will automatically be taken to what you have added. This might include websites, online resources, YouTube videos, or login to platforms your class uses.

Here’s a Bitmoji Virtual Classroom Tutorial Step by Step using PowerPoint video on Mrs Sekhon YouTube channel

How to remove the background from an image

There are different ways you can remove the background from any image so that when you place it on your background image it does not show anything from the background of the image you wish to place on the classroom background.

Using PowerPoint to remove background from an image

View the video below to see how you can use PowerPoint to remove the background from any image you have, whether from a download or from your own images

This how-to guide from Microsoft shows how to remove the background from any image – this also includes a guide to how you can choose which elements of an image to keep and which parts to remove. This guide includes a video but also illustrated text step-by-step guide.

 

Using RemoveBG to remove the background from an image

You can also use the free online tool RemoveBG to remove the background from any image (this also works from mobile devices)

Need more help?

There is a very helpful guide to “How to create Bitmoji classroom” on Shana Ramin’s “Hello Teacher Lady” site

How to share your Interactive Virtual Classroom in Microsoft Teams

You can choose whether to share your interactive virtual classroom as a simple image (which will have no interactivity) or PDF (which will retain any interactive links you added) or PowerPoint

To create an image from PowerPoint click on File > Save as > choose location on your device > from dropdown “Save as type” choose “PNG Portable Network Graphics” format

To create a PDF from PowerPoint click on File > Save as > choose location on your device > click on “Options” and specify single slide you wish to use

When uploading to Microsoft Teams you can choose to share in the Posts/Conversations by clicking on the paperclip attachments icon – you will then be asked where you wish to share the uploaded item so choose to save in the “Class Materials” folder as this is read-only for your learners.

You can alternatively choose to upload the PowerPoint into your OneDrive and when choosing the share link ensure the permissions are set to “anyone with the link” (and ensure edit rights are disabled). To ensure the PowerPoint link opens as a play-only view for your learners to interact with it you can add &amp=&action=embedview to the end of the weblink from your shared PowerPoint link from OneDrive before you share it in the Microsoft Teams Posts/Conversations (this method also permits sharing outwith Microsoft Teams, such as on website or social media).

This video by Patti Duncan shows how you can save your interactive virtual classroom created in PowerPoint as a PowerPoint show and upload to Microsoft Teams so that anyone viewing it in your class will go straight to “present” mode and not have the option to do anything other than view the PowerPoint and click on the links you’ve added.

Want to find out how others are using interactive virtual classrooms in Microsoft Teams?

There is a Facebook group (called Bitmoji Classrooms for Teams) just for teachers sharing about their use of interactive Bitmoji virtual classrooms in Microsoft Teams.

 

Here’s some educators sharing about their virtual classrooms created using PowerPoint

Want to add even more interactivity?

You can also upload the image from your PowerPoint slide to ThingLink to add hotspots which, when clicked by your learners, give you the option to add the links as popout windows so that the learners don’t leave your virtual classroom space. ThingLink also gives the option to have text read aloud using Immersive Reader, and also to let you add audio recordings of your voice if you choose.

Creating Visual Learning Materials with ThingLink – a free online course on the Microsoft Educator Centre guiding you through learning how to use ThingLink to bring images, video and 360-degree virtual tours to life with added popup links, voice and text notes, and more. ThingLink creations can be shared via Microsoft Teams anywhere a link can be added.

Click on this link to see more from primary teacher Amanda Pickard about how she combined a virtual classroom image with Thinglink to add interactivity in Microsoft Teams for her primary 1 class

11 Comments

  1. Trying to understand what you said about &amp=&action=embedview… if you add this link to a PowerPoint address… does the PowerPoint open in Teams or does it open up a new window? I tried several times, and it is opening in a new window outside of Teams.
    Please explain in more details.
    Thank you

  2. If you upload the PowerPoint into the Class Materials folder it will be view only for the pupils (and so wouldn’t really need the “show” addition at the end of the url). If, like my example one, you upload via your OneDrive then adding the extension to the weblink forces it to be a show but will also open in a new window.

  3. Can something similar be done for Google Classroom?

  4. Does this work with Google slides?

  5. Yes it can

  6. Yes it can

  7. If you share the PowerPoint in the read-only class materials folder in your class in Microsoft Teams then when pupils open it they will be able to view it in Microsoft Teams. If you create it in OneDrive then it will open outwith Microsoft Teams

  8. Thanks for all your helpful tips! I added &amp=&action=embedview to my shareable link and posted it as a new tab in Teams. Some screentips on the bottom right portion disappeared and the resolution is poor. Any tips on how to resolve those issues?

  9. Thank you for your kind comment and I’m glad you have found the tips helpful. I’ve been trying to replicate the issue you’ve experienced but have not managed to find the same issue, in that everything appears on screen and at normal full resolution. So I’m puzzled as to what can be happening for you.Some things to try: upload the PowerPoint into OneDrive and share with anyone with the link to view – then copy the share weblink and go to add a tab > choose web option > Name it as you wish and paste the link but then add &amp=&action=embedview to the end of the weblink before saving it. Test to see what is then seen. If not seeing full PowerPoint then try clicking on the “expand tab” arrows in the top-right. If that still doesn’t work then I suggest using the Microsoft Education Support link to file a support ticket at https://aka.ms/edusupport – simply sign in with your Office 365 education account, select Teams from the dropdown option and then describe the issue you are experiencing. I’ve always found them very speedy at responding and trying to resolve issues.

  10. I would like to be able to update my Bitmoji classroom once it’s posted to teams. I want to do so by changing the links each day so when students click on it, it takes them directly to the assignment(posted on teams) for that day. Is there a way to do that?

  11. Thank you for your question. As long as you’ve shared the Bitmoji classroom as a PowerPoint slide (and not an image or a pdf) then any change you make on the slide is changed immediately for anyone clicking on the links you’ve added. To get the link to the assignment first create the assignment in Teams as normal and at the foot of the assignment setup page make sure you choose to post the assignment to a channel (you can edit which channel it appears in as to which you choose). Once that’s posted then go to that channel and find the post about the assignment. Then click on the three dots to the top right of the post and from the dropdown menu choose “copy link” – that will be the link you add on the Bitmoji wherever you choose that to appear

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