Microsoft Teams Chat Removed by Administration

Beni Jurion and Hobbs Hegedus

Last month, students were shocked to find that the student-to-student chat feature gone from their Microsoft Teams taskbar. Students quickly started to speculate as to why it was removed. However, these answers could only be found with those who made the decision. 

At Seattle Prep, there are two teams behind technology-based decisions. The IT Team led by Director of IT Mr. Dietrich and the Ed-Tech Team led by Mrs. Kramer. The inspiration behind making the decision was not made based on the usage among Prep students but was simply brought to the knowledge of Mr. Danielson from Microsoft themselves.

“The [student-to-student chat function] was never brought to our attention; it came up because Mr. Danielson had seen the update. Microsoft publishes every month what their newest features and updates are. So, he had seen this come out in like September. Then it was brought it to an agenda item for one of our meetings.” Commented Kramer. From there, the members of the two tech teams and Assistant Principal for Academics Mrs. Kheriaty took a closer look at the feature. In the end, they came to a unanimous decision to remove the feature as.  

Kramer said that the chat feature let itself to casual conversations and “that could lend itself more to things and areas,” not school related. Additionally, the school found that it would be better for students to use email or the post section of specific classroom teams. While teachers may not be CC’d on emails, it is “still within our platform so we can still kind of see what’s going on,” says Kramer.   

The two tech teams emphasized that helping students “manage your time,” “avoiding distractions,” and “teaching the idea of responsible use” as the three reasons for removing the features. Prep students range from 14-year-olds to 18-year-old, and while some students may already have developed these skills, Dietrich spoke of “balance” and that “if you go too far on one extreme of restricting everything you’re really not teaching students…but on the flip side if you’re just saying we’re not going to do anything, that’s a real green light” to doing anything.

When asked if any other new features will be coming, Kramer and Dietrich said it is a constant ongoing process. 
“You know, initially YouTube was blocked when I first came here.” Dietrich commented.  

As Prep transitions out of online learning, features may be removed or implemented as new updates roll out and new surface models are used. Software like Class Policy has also made return as students come back to Prep in-person.  

“Every new surface has to be adapted. Trying to back into swing of things, bring back old things, retrain. It may seem like a change, but it really is more of a reintroduction. More teachers probably will begin to choose to use things like Class Policy as we’re rolling them out,” said Dietrich.