Teams is Microsoft’s collaboration software that allows groups to communicate and share information efficiently.
For an introduction to the application and an overview of how it is designed, watch this short video on the the Microsoft introduction website.
What is a Team?
Teams are collections of people who gather together around a common goal.
For example, members of a department in an organisation – such as Information Security, or tutors in a school, students enrolled in a course, a working committee or a reading club and so on.
Any content or communication in a Team is visible only to the team members.
There are two main roles in Microsoft Teams:
- Team owner – The person who creates the team. Team owners can make any member of their team a co-owner when they invite them to the team or at any point after they’ve joined the team. Having multiple team owners lets you share the responsibilities of managing settings and membership, including invitations.
- Team members – The people who the owners invite to join their team.
What are Channels?
Channels are created within teams to focus on specific topics, projects or operations. So some team members might participate in certain channels, but not others. Channels are where most of the action takes place.
By default, the General channel is created for you when you create the team. There are many useful purposes for this channel:
- Use it to share an overview of what the team wants to achieve such as a project charter or who’s who in the team.
- Use it for announcements that all team members need to receive.
- For new or single purpose teams, it may be the only channel at the beginning as you decide how Teams can best support your goals.
When you first start using Teams it is tempting to keep everything in the General channel of your team. Avoid this by creating channels for particular themes or purposes.
The third area to be aware of is the tabs area. This allows you to add certain apps into a channel. In the image above, the General channel is active, and the Posts tab is being used. Posts is for posting comments and questions, as in a group chat. The other tabs in this channel are Files, which is for uploading and managing files to a channel, and there is a Staff notebook, and a Learning tech notebook – these are both OneNote notebooks, which can be used for a variety of purposes. There are many other tabs to explore, view these by selecting the +.
What can I use Teams for?
Teams is typically used for
- group chatting
- video meetings and voice calls
- document sharing and collaboration
As mentioned above, each channel has a Posts tab, where group conversations can take place, as in a chat. In addition you’ll see that the left-hand vertical bar contains a Chat tab. Use this tab to access active chats or create new ones. Add participants to a chat using the add participants button at the top right of your screen.
Video meetings and voice calls
Use the Calls Tab to voice or video call, message and email one or more of your contacts. Open the Make a Call button for more options.
Schedule meetings using the Calendar tab, which syncs with your Outlook calendar.
From the calendar view, double click on the date and time you’d like to schedule a meeting, and the meeting scheduler wizard opens. Add you details and Save to send to invitees.
Document sharing and collaboration
You can access your personal files, including recently viewed, your downloads folder and your One Drive from the left hand vertical menu. The horizontal toolbar at the top of the page gives you further options for managing files.
You can also manage documents within a channel in the image below, the General channel File tab is open. Again, there are additional tools to manage files.