Office 365 Groups wants to make professional learning communities easier to manage

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A professional learning community (PLC) is a group of teachers that meet regularly to share classroom techniques and discuss ways of better engaging their students to improve their academic performance. Office 365 Groups provides teachers with a number of ways to collaborate within a PLC easier and more efficient. For the most part, PLCs are formed and focused on specific grade levels and subject areas.

Here are some examples of problems that PLCs face that Office 365 Groups can help fix:

  • Teachers can be isolated, time is severely limited and collaboration is difficult.
  • Professional collaboration tools are disconnected and don’t always support meaningful, sustained collaboration.
  • A challenge for many PLCs is extending the work and relationships in the times and spaces between physically coming together.
  • It can be difficult for new teachers to ramp up.
  • Information is often stored in personal spaces as opposed to one common place that can benefit others.
  • New members need to better understand the journey, story, exploration and history of a PLC, its activities and areas of inquiry.

In April 2016, Office 365 looked to help improve the user experience for PLCs. Today, Microsoft announced that the PLC Groups Preview, tailored to meet the needs of teachers and address some of the issues that they face in their PLCs. Available later this Summer, the Office 365 Groups for PLC Preview will help teachers in PLCs by providing a better collaborative experience.

Each Office 365 Groups for PLC Preview will come with:

  • Inbox for group email communication, including Connector for connecting your group to Twitter and following topics or Twitter handles that interest your PLC group.
  • Calendar for scheduling group events.
  • Document library for storing and working on group files and folders.
  • OneNote notebook for taking project and meeting notes.
  • Planner for organizing and assigning tasks and getting updates on project progress.

Here is a video showing how Omaha Public Schools uses Office 365 Groups for PLCs:

To learn more about new features and capabilities coming soon to Office 365 Groups for Education, you can check out the Office 365 Education Roadmap. If you are interested in trying out the Office 365 Groups for PLC Preview, you can sign up here.