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December Microsoft issue affecting students may take ‘weeks’ to resolve

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captionMicrosoft Teams is a key resource for students learning at home

A Microsoft problem affecting schoolchildren in Scotland in their first days of homeschooling can take several weeks to resolve.

The company is “a few weeks away” from implementing a permanent solution on the “join” button on Microsoft Teams, according to Education Scotland.

There were also reports of delays within the chat feature.

It comes after a separate Teams issue affected students across Scotland.

Various schools reported that the technology was running slowly or not at all on Monday. Education Scotland said this issue had been resolved later that evening.

Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the government continued to work with the company to resolve issues.

‘National issue’

Microsoft Teams is one of the main platforms used for distance learning with schools closed to most students until at least the beginning of February.

In December, the company received complaints about problems with the ‘join’ button and the chat update, which the Scottish government says still affects a “small number of users”.

On Monday, a number of schools, students and parents reported that the technology is running slow or not at all.

  • Students in Scotland are struggling to get online in the midst of the Microsoft problem

  • Students face differences in distance learning

Microsoft said engineers were working to fix the problem. When the company was pressured on whether demand as a result of homeschooling was causing the problem, the company declined to comment.

On Tuesday, an elementary school in Edinburgh sent parents a text saying, “Microsoft still has some issues with the Teams application. This is a national issue and will hopefully be resolved soon.”

The BBC has approached Microsoft for an update but has not yet received a response.

Education Scotland, the Scottish Government agency responsible for improving education, said in an update on its website that it continued to work with the company.

The post reads: “We have continued to work with Microsoft’s technical team to resolve the intermittent connection button error that has affected a small number of users.

“We can confirm that Microsoft is a few weeks away from implementing a permanent solution to this. In the meantime, continue to use the manual solution and where we can expedite any work we want to do.

“We had received a small number of reports of delays in the chat feature during some meetings. Microsoft is exploring ways to improve the user experience, but it works as designed.

“There are changes to the operational use that our users can implement to improve their experience. If anyone needs help with this, please contact the helpdesk for further information.”

‘Make it clearly difficult’

Mrs Sturgeon reiterated during Tuesday’s daily briefing that the issue “does not only affect education or just affects Scotland”.

She said her cabinet had received a brief report on the subject from the education secretary that morning.

“We continue to be in discussions with Microsoft,” she said. “Microsoft has assured that this will be resolved and will hopefully be resolved soon.

“It’s not a problem with Glow, a Scottish government resource.”

Glow gives users access to Microsoft Office 365 – which includes Teams – and G Suite apps such as Google Classroom. Local authorities decide what to use between Microsoft and G Suite.

Ms Sturgeon added that the Microsoft problem “clearly makes things more difficult than they already are” is for parents, young people and teachers.

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