Inside Microsoft Teams Season 5 Episode 2- “Simplifying productivity with Kent State University”

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In this episode, I had a conversation with John Rathje, VP (Vice President) IT/CIO at Kent State University. We discuss how Kent State leveraged Microsoft Teams, Power Platform, and bots to reduce complexity while improving productivity to produce the best environment for collaboration and communication for students and educators.

Here’s a clip where I asked John, “How do you reduce complexity and how do you make sure that what is a great experience for one person can be a good experience for someone who has a totally different perspective of what that is?” Let’s start with his answer: Kent State – YouTube


If you have not watched the episode yet, I encourage you to set aside 30 minutes to do so. Below are some final thoughts from John:

John Rathje- VP IT/CIO, Kent State University
Digital Experience Matters. That statement has meaning in different contexts and Teams is central to our strategy of providing an outstanding digital experience throughout the University.

The anchor of our university’s strategic priority is ‘students first.’ That asserts that Kent State aspires to create an environment where students can thrive, where they belong and become lifelong learners committed to a life of impact. They deserve and we desire to provide a great experience at Kent State University. Someone’s “experience” is often comprised of multiple experiences – and so is the case with a digital experience. For instance, at Kent State we are working to create a home like experience in the residence halls with our network, a personalized experience within our application architecture, a connected experience with our engagement platform, and a collaborative experience through our front-line digital tools. Each digital experience matters, and Teams is at the center of providing key elements of that experience. Let me share more.

When thinking about a digital experience, we have few design thoughts in mind:

  • Personalization – meeting students where they are and providing relevant, time sensitive information in support of their success.
  • Integration – providing a platform that can integrate data, applications, methods of interaction to provide a consistent approach reducing complexity and improving productivity.
  • Optimization – leveraging an applications capability to maximize value in supporting user needs and mission outcomes.
  • Satisfaction – creating an approach that is easy and increases student (faculty, staff, and research!) comfort, loyalty and therefore, retention.

Let us take each of these and how Teams is helping us achieve our objectives.

Personalization: Teams gives students the ability to connect with others, create self-directed learning pathways, co-create, ideate, and collaborate with others. Teams also gives us the ability to communicate and direct information through notifications, messages, automations, and other means which supports the student’s journey. We are designing and developing BOTS to scale support and provide a personalized digital assistant to users.

Integration: We leverage Teams and our collaboration and communication platform for our Learning Management System and integrate numbers of other applications and developed apps into Teams. Integration is easy and further reduces complexity. We have also integrated Teams into our learning and hybrid-meeting rooms with Teams devices/Teams rooms and Surface Hubs to deliver a full student experience regardless of their location.

Optimization: Teams set of features provides ways for teams to collaborate, manage files, file permissions, communicate (voice, video, chat), automate processes, learn, poll, schedule, track and manage, and. You get the point. Teams is feature rich, and did I mention allows simple integrations to extend functionality?

Satisfaction: Teams is comprehensive, yet simple and works well with any device. This is important as we meet people where they are rather then forcing them to adopt new and diverse ways to engage Kent State digitally.

We plan to continue to push Teams and find new ways to improve the digital experience at Kent State. What about you, what are some ways you are improving productivity and reducing complexity through Teams?

Want to read more about Kent State? We recommend the case study Kent State did with Microsoft. Also, check out the following links:

Also in this episode, Arun Das, Principal Product Manager, Microsoft Teams, joined to provide a demo of Microsoft Teams Connect shared channels. Below are some additional Teams Connect shared channels resources:

Questions, comments, and/or suggestions? Contact us at

Until next time,
Stephen Rose
Host of Inside Microsoft Teams


Read full article (Microsoft Teams Blog)

All content and images belong to their respected owners, this article is curated for informational purposes only.

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