At a glance:

  • What is Microsoft Teams?
  • Microsoft Teams Features
  • Two User Roles: Owner And Member
  • Some Top Tips And Tricks For General Use
  • Top Tips And Tricks In A Live Class/Meeting Session
  • Group Work In Breakout Rooms

With hundreds of thousands of people working from home, this is a huge shock to the system for information and technology teams. Technology has only been previously using 10% to 20% of the time but is almost operating at full capacity at 90% to 100% now. By the way no one was ready for that volume! From Slack, Google to Collaborate, Zoom to Microsoft Teams, there has been an array of technological applications that our modern-day scholars have access to, all, on the click of a button.  Among the lot, Microsoft Teams has, at least for me, proved to be the most enterprising and reliable.

What is Microsoft Teams?

Microsoft Teams is a combination of already existing features of Skype (chat and conferencing), SharePoint and OneDrive (file sharing and collaboration), OneNote (note-taking), Planner (everyday project management), Stream (video sharing), plus built-in applications tabs that bring other tools like GSuite, MailChimp, Salesforce, and so much more in one place. Access to all of these features —and more—is available directly through Microsoft Teams.  Thus, Microsoft Teams is a tool that provides global, remote, and dispersed information via a common space – Microsoft Teams.

Microsoft Teams Features

Microsoft Teams features make it stand out from other collaboration software due to a number of enterprising features. These include:

Teams And Channels: Teams are made up of channels, which are conversation boards between teammates.

Conversations Within Channels And Teams: All team members can view and add to different conversations in the General channel and can use an @ function to invite other members to different conversations.

A Chat Function: This basic chat function is commonly found within most collaboration applications and can take place between teams, groups, and individuals.

Document Storage In Sharepoint: Every member who uses Microsoft Teams will have a site in sharepoint online, which will contain a default document library folder. All files shared across all conversations will automatically be saved to this folder.

Online Video Calling And Screen Sharing:  One can enjoy seamless and fast video calls to colleagues or students, alike within your business, school or clients outside your business.

Online Meetings: This feature can enhance communication through meetings, and even training with an online meetings function that can host up to 10,000 users. This feature also includes a scheduling aid, a note-taking application, file uploading, and in-meeting chat messaging.

Audio Conferencing. This is a feature you won’t find in many collaboration platforms. With audio conferencing, anyone can join an online meeting via phone. With a dial-in number that spans hundreds of cities, even users that are on the go can participate with no internet required.

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Two User Roles: Owner And Member

Within Microsoft Teams there are two user roles: owner and member. By default, a user who creates a new team is granted the owner status. In addition, owners and members can have moderator capabilities for a channel

As the Teacher is the owner, s/he has the right to be the sole rights ownership on presenters:

1 Team owners can create teams unless they’ve been restricted from doing so.

2 An owner can turn off some items at the team level, in which students would not have access to being presenters but as members only.

3 After adding a member to a team, an owner can also promote a member to owner status. It is also possible for an owner to demote their own status to a member.

4 Team members can add other members to a public team: the class.

5 While a team member can’t directly add members to a private team, they can request someone to be added to the team of which team owners will receive an alert that they have a pending request that they can accept or deny.

NB: Make sure you’re on a paid Microsoft Teams plan in order to have full access.

Some Top Tips And Tricks For General Use

Customize Teams For Your Unique Scenario – Whether you’re preparing lesson plans, creating a personalized learning environment, developing an after-school program, managing any other team-based activity or project, Teams can help you get organized for success.

Create Your Team And Invite Team Members – On the online application launcher, click Teams to open the online application (or download it to your desktop). Then click the Join or create a team button at the bottom of the channel list in Teams, After that, then click the Create team button then select Classes. In the Create Your Team Window, name your class and write a brief description that explains the purpose of the class, then click the Next button.

Creating Members List – You can easily add people, groups, and distribution lists from your school. As you begin typing names, a dropdown list of people in your email directory matching your spelling will appear. Click the Add button to add team members, or click the Skip button to add team members later if you want to set up your content first.

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Sign In and Get Started with Teams – In Windows, click Start Start button > Microsoft Corporation > Microsoft Teams. On Mac, go to the Applications folder and click Microsoft Teams. On mobile, tap the Teams icon. Sign in with your Office 365 username and password.

Create A Few Key Channels and some tabs with great content – When you create a new class, a “General” channel is automatically added to the class. You can create additional channels to keep your class organized. By default, anyone on the team can access these channels.

Duplicate To Eliminate – Setting up the lesson can be tiresome, especially if you’re having to do it several times a day. Minimise your work by setting your lessons to repeat for the rest of the term. To do this go to “repeat” and set to weekly or daily, or to custom if you need fortnightly repetitions for your two-week timetable.

To Create Additional Channels, select the ellipses (…) next to your team name in the channel list. Select Add channel from the dropdown menu. In the dialog box, name your channel and write a brief description that explains the purpose of the channel, then select the Add button.

Sharing Files in Microsoft Teams – In Microsoft Teams, users can share content with other Teams users within and outside their organization. Sharing files and folders in Teams is based on the settings configured in SharePoint and OneDrive, so whatever you set up for SharePoint and OneDrive will affect sharing in Teams as well.

Users can share files from OneDrive, from teams and sites they have access to, and from their computer

Conversations – Persistent chat is the name of the game with Teams as you make contact with colleagues and students, and as they make contact with you. While it might seem like you’re using iMessage, WhatsApp, or Android Messenger, you’re definitely not.

Chat – Start a new conversation with a person or group. At the top of the application, click New chat. In the To field, type the name of the person or people you want to chat with. In the compose box, say what you have to say and click Send button.

Reply To A Conversation – Channel conversations are organized by date and then threaded. The replies in threads are organized under the initial post so it’s easier to follow multiple conversations. Find the conversation thread you want to reply to. Click Reply, add your message, and click Send button.

Make Announcement Message – Have an image banner with large text when announcing important information to groups or class. It is advisable to use subject lines when starting new conversations.

Move Email Conversations To Teams – You can send emails to a channel within Teams. To create an email address for a channel, select the ellipsis (…) to the right of the channel. Then select Get email address in the dropdown menu. Finally, select the Copy button and save the email address to your contacts list or email address book.

Create Class Assignments – To create assignments in teams, select the assignments tab in your class tab. Select the Create button in the top right corner and then select New assignment. In addition, you can . . .

Review And Grade Students’ Work by heading back to the Assignments tab in your class. Select Review to see all the assignments your students have turned in. You can then assess them and provide feedback.

Have Fun With Emoji, Memes, And GIFs – Express yourself and impress your classmates. Click Sticker button under the box where you type your message, then pick a meme or sticker from one of the categories.

Share A File – Sometimes words aren’t enough, and you need to post a file to a channel conversation. In your channel conversation, click Attach and Choose file button beneath. Select a file, click Open, and then Send button.

You can also always see all the files you post to a channel by going to the Files tab.

Collaborate In Teams – @mention someone. An @mention is like a tap on the shoulder—a way to get someone’s attention in a channel conversation or a chat. In the compose box, type @, then type the first few letters of the person’s name. You can also @mention entire teams and channels. Repeat for as many people as you want to @mention. Each person you @mention gets a notification in their Activity feed.

Stay On Top Of Things – Notifications let you know when someone @mentions you, likes something you’ve posted, or replies to a thread you started. The Activity feed helps you stay on top of all your notifications.

Click Activity Button – The feed shows you a summary of everything that’s happened in the channels you follow. Click Filter button to show only certain types of notifications such as @mentions or likes.

Select Feed and then My Activity to see a list of everything you’ve been up to lately in Teams.

Search For Messages, People Or Files – Searches cover your entire organization—all the channels that you’re part of. Type a phrase in the command box at the top of the application and press Enter. Select the Messages, People, or Files tab. You can click Filter button to further refine your search results.

Sharing Your Screen – Move your mouse to the bottom-middle corner of the screen during a meeting in Teams. Click the square icon in the toolbar and select the window you want to share. Then, Click the third icon from the left, it’s the icon with the square box and arrow. You can then choose either one of your screens or desktops or a window or program to share.

Scheduling a Meeting – When the time for the meeting has arrived, select the meeting by clicking on it in the Calendar view and then click the Join button in the top right. This will make you join the meeting.

Recording a Meeting – Inside of a meeting, hover over your picture in the middle of the screen and the meeting toolbar will appear. Click the …(ellipsis) button. Click Start Recording. The recording will begin and you will see a red circle to the left of the meeting toolbar.

Click “Stop Recording” –  You’ll then see a message that the recording is being processed and will be available shortly.

Retrieving a Recording – If you are still in the meeting, after the recording has finished processing, you can access it from the Chat window. Click the speech bubble button on the meeting toolbar to open the Meeting chat pane, and then select … to reveal the options for the video. Once the meeting has ended the recording will show up in the Chat tab of teams under the Recent section. From this chat window, you’ll see options to manage the recording.

Transcript Over Teams Meeting – If you’ve just finished a call in Microsoft Teams, you can go back and read a transcript of what just happened by going to Microsoft Stream. If your administrator has enabled the ability to transcribe meetings, and you’ve already recorded your call, you can also go back to the transcript to highlight important points and to provide a more finalized copy for distribution within your organization.

Some Top Tips And Tricks In The Live Meeting – Class/Meeting In Session

Spotlight Yourself Or Others – This means putting the focus on a specific person for all participants. Only meeting presenters can spotlight a participant. To use the feature, you just need to click the ellipsis icon next to any participant and select “Spotlight.” When a person is spotlighted, an icon appears next to the person’s name within the participants.

Manage Permissions – Go to the team name you are the owner of and select More options and  select Manage Team. In there, you will be able to enable and disable all the options available for your team by checking or unchecking them.

Brainstorming Session With A Whiteboard – When you create a meeting you can access the Whiteboard even before the meeting has started. All you need to do is to open the meeting chat and click on the Whiteboard tab. Still, you can launch by tapping the Whiteboard icon on the Start Screen where you can immediately begin inking with the pen, adding images or sticky notes, and signing in.

Someone Raises Their Hand – During a meeting, you can raise a virtual hand to let people know you want to contribute without interrupting the conversation. Everyone in the meeting will see that you’ve got your hand up. Meeting presenters will also receive a notification that your hand is raised.

Quick Poll – QuickPoll is designed to allow you to set up one-question anonymous surveys which your students may complete quickly and efficiently. It is helpful to the teacher as you receive valuable feedback from your students.

Go to the “More Options” menu. Go to Settings. Select the “Only people in my organization can respond” button. De-select “record name” and select “one response per person.”

Follow-Up Questions/Pin Chat Message – The pinned chats/messages, means that whatever message or chat that you want is pinned at the top of the screen, meaning that no matter how many other chats pop up, that particular chat will always remain at the top. Got to your recent chats on the left side of the Teams screen. Click the three little dots to the right of the staff listed in the chat. Then select “pin.” The pinned chats will come up in a new “pinned” list above all the other chat

Mute/Unmute Button – While the meeting is in progress, you have the option to mute or unmute yourself. On the bottom toolbar, you will see a camera icon on the left and a microphone icon next to it. Click it to mute yourself, click it again to unmute yourself. You can also press Ctrl + Shift + M on your keyboard to mute/unmute.

Muting Other Participants – Click on their name on the right side of the screen and select Mute Participant (or unmute if they are already muted) If a user is muted, they receive a notification letting them know. They can unmute themselves if they need to be heard.

Download Attendance – This allows teachers to take student attendance and generate simple attendance reports. Open the participants’ pane, click the ellipses to the right of Participants, then click download attendance list. The file will be downloaded to your computer’s default downloads folder. This has to be done during the live meeting!

Group Work In Breakout Rooms

Breakout rooms or mini-meetings allow a meeting organizer to split your attendees into multiple online rooms for discussion and collaboration in Microsoft Teams. Only the meeting organizer can create breakout rooms. That means literally only one person in the meeting is able to do this and must be present throughout the time you want to use breakout rooms for them to be used in a meeting.

Click the breakout rooms button in the meeting toolbar, as above shown above. Note that the breakout rooms icon might be either of the two shown.

Choose how many rooms you’d like—up to 50—and decide whether you’d like to have attendees randomly and evenly distributed among the breakout rooms or if you’d like to organize the rooms manually.

Turn On Live Captions – Live captions can make meetings more inclusive to participants by giving them another way to follow along. I use this one when we are reading a text. To use live captions in a meeting, go to your meeting controls and select More options button > Turn on live captions. To stop using live captions, go to the meeting controls and select More options and > Turn off live captions.

Background Images – If you’re working from home, or a sensitive environment, use Microsoft Teams background images to hide your background.

In Microsoft Teams, you have several options to hide your background.

Blur your background – To do this:

  • Click on your audio and video settings screen when you join a meeting
  • Choose the ellipses “…” for more options,
  • Tap on Blur my background

Use A Teams Background Image – To do this:

  • Tap the … when you’re in a Teams meeting
  • Click “Show background effects”
  • Choose your image from the default options
  • Click preview to test it out
  • Click apply to save your background image

There is so much that one can do in Microsoft Teams. Spend some time familiarizing yourself with the different applications and activities to actually have the hang of it. It is only through practising that it will become fully interactive and functional to you.

Good luck in all your endeavours.


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