Yammer – so what is it and why use in school?
Yammer is an online discussion/collaboration tool which provides schools with a secure online environment where all pupils in a class can ask questions of their peers, where they can seek answers and help each other, bounce ideas around and deepen their own understanding of what they are learning in class. It is available to all users of Office 365 for Education, meaning all Glow users, pupils and staff, have access to this tool. And it can be accessed by signing in online in a browser or using a mobile device app.
Yammer provides an ideal tool through which learners can learn about the use of social media, in a protected environment, where the pupils can be guided to model behaviours for use in an online discussion tool, which will apply to any social media tool pupils may meet outwith their schooling. So if a teacher is looking to help pupils learn about safe sharing, and what not to share online, being supportive and respectful of views of others, and a place for pupils to engage in deepening their understanding through questioning and responding to others, then Yammer provides a great environment for a school.
- Glow users simply sign into Glow then navigate to any part of Office 365, such as the tile for Office 365 (School Site) and then click on the 9-square waffle icon to navigate to the range of tools available in Office 365 – and choose the Yammer tile.
- The very first time a user clicks on the Yammer tile they will be invited to invite further users – don’t invite others but instead just close that window (click on the greyed-out cross at the top-right or click on the background page behind the invitation panel.
- You’re then in Yammer and can start browsing some of the Yammer groups open to all users. Or, if a pupil is ready to join the private class Yammer group set up by their teacher, then the first time the pupil simply searches for the class group name, clicks on the link and requests to join by clicking on the “join group” button – that sends a message to the teacher who accepts their pupils into the group.
Alternatively, rather than go to Glow first, users can search with an online search engine for Yammer or go straight to https://www.yammer.com where they can then simply log in using their Glow/Office 365 email address and password.
How do you set up a Yammer group just for pupils and teachers in a class?
- A class teacher can quickly set up a private class group in Yammer. Click on “+ Create a new group” and then give the group a name – include in the group name something which identifies the school as well as the class name.
- Choose “Private – Only approved members” and untick the box which gives the option to “List in Group Directory” – that way only pupils who know what to search for will be able to find a teacher’s Yammer class group, and only pupils who the teachers knows are members of their class will be granted access by the teacher. Setting up that way avoids the teachers having to add a list of usernames – they simply tell their class what to search for, and to click on the “join group” button when they find the group.
- A teacher can see the list of pupils waiting to be added to their class yammer group by going into the Yammer group and then clicking on “Members” at the right-hand side. This will show which users have requested access and are pending approval by the teacher.
- It would be recommended to have additional teacher colleagues added as joint administrators – beside their name on the list of members just click on the cog icon and select “Make admin” to elevate that teacher to be a joint administrator of that Yammer group.
What can you do in a Yammer discussion?
You can ask questions, respond to requests from others, add comments or create polls to garner views of others. Attachments can be added to any discussion post – so pupils can perhaps discuss or share comments about a resource. You can even use the “praise” button to acknowledge the input of other users. A Yammer group provides a place to share resources, and links to related sites elsewhere.
How are schools using Yammer?
Kirknewton Primary School in West Lothian has provided an excellent description of how they are using Yammer with pupils. This blogpost gives screenshots of different aspects to how they use Yammer, as well as the rationale to the choice of tool and the purposes behind it to better support learning and teaching. This has included using Yammer to support collaborative writing. Mrs Anderson, Principal Teacher at the school said “As a teacher and parent I feel that it is very important that we educate children about the safe use of social media – using Yammer has been a fantastic way to do so, in a safe environment. Feedback from parents has been positive.” “The impact on learning and teaching is evident in the content of the group and the enthusiasm of pupils (which is evident in the online interactions).”
Bearsden Primary School in East Dunbartonshire – teacher Athole McLauchlan describes in at this link about the use of Yammer with pupils in the school https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/glowblogs/glowgallery/portfolio/using-yammer-as-a-social-media-channel-for-learners-and-learning/
What safeguards are in place for Yammer users in Glow?
Yammer groups can be set up to be private (such as for a class of pupils so that the Yammer group can only be accessed by pupils in that class with their teachers). There are also Yammer groups open to users across Glow and educators within Glow nationally act as Moderators for Yammer users, welcoming new users, helping guide users to use appropriate language in a supportive way.
Everything in Yammer is identifiable to the individual user. There is a simple “report a concern” option for all users (either use the question mark icon on a page or anywhere you see a “Report a concern” button) which will alert the national Glow administrators to concerns raised, and who will provide the support required to resolve any issues.
There’s also a filter to ensure inappropriate language can’t accidentally be posted.
And of course the educational-focussed environment shared between learners and educators means there is a visible supportive environment. Users can set email alerts either to all posts in a specific Yammer group, or to individual posts where alerts would be sent for replies or comments just to that post.
Yammer has an app for mobile devices – search on the app store for your device. Then once downloaded simply log in with your Glow/Office 365 email address (that’s where your Glow username has @glow.sch.uk added to the end, after your Glow username). For many users the use of the app will be the most convenient way to access Yammer.
What help is available?
Day One Guide for the Glow Yammer Network (accessed using Glow account – but also available as a document download from the public-access site Yammer Guide for Glow Users) – a very helpful guide of do things to do, and things to avoid, as well as guides to getting the most out of Yammer, specially in the early stages of getting used to using Yammer in a school.
Yammer Guide for Glow Users – a Glow-specific help guide to getting started with the use of Glow. This includes guidance and suggestions for managing Yammer in an educational context.
So how are you using Yammer in your school?
Do share in the comments below how Yammer is being used in your school