Another shot has been fired in the ongoing war between Office 365 and Google GAFE this time it involves Yammer the Social Network of Office 365. Yammer is a social networking application that allows colleges to have their private social network. It’s a lot better already than what Google Offers which is Google Plus which is not integrated with the other Google Apps in the suite, other than the ability to log in.
Microsoft has announced that an update to Yammer is currently rolling out that will allow groups set up in Office 365 to also show up across the institution’s Yammer network. Students and Faculty have been able to create their Office 365 groups for quite a while. These groups give the members the ability to send emails and documents to other team members easily. Office 365 groups have been able to set up SharePoint sites and shared OneNote Notebooks with each other and if my experience they are mainly used for collaboration on group projects. This feature will become useful when Microsoft Classroom is released since it has a function to allow the import of students from a student information system.
These groups will not integrate with Yammer and add that functionality to the groups. This is a welcomed addition as it will allow greater collaboration as the team members will be able to post to Yammer and receive updates in the form of a social network feed. The group information wills till only be available to the team members so this should increase the usefulness of groups. This should also help to drive adoption of the Yammer network which in my experience has not received a lot of activity from students. This net interaction will not replace the time a student may spend on one of the social networks such as Facebook or Twitter but should help add to the advantages of social media to students.
The groups will also be searchable by administrators so schools can ensure that groups are being used in the correct manner. It will also be possible for administrators to create groups of students such as those in a particular major and those groups will be available within Yammer. This will allow schools to create groups to drive more active interaction between students and contribute to creating a sense of unity and belonging. We all know the more you can create a sense of bonding between students the higher likelihood those students will persist until graduation.
Faculty will be able to create groups for their classes and have an instant discussion board to go along with those groups. Once Microsoft Classroom is released with full integration with student information system, then this change will allow these types of items to be created automatically for all the classes taught within an institution.
For the full announcement from the Office 365 Yammer team see https://blogs.office.com/2017/03/02/yammer-integration-with-office-365-groups-now-rolling-out/