Building an online collaborative space in Teams


This article explains:


Microsoft has taken an integrated approach to Online Collaborative Spaces with the release of Microsoft Teams.  Microsoft Teams provides a single location for teams to work together, store their files, chat, and meet online.

How to get started with Microsoft Teams

Step-by-Step Instructions for creating your first Microsoft Team

  1. Go to
  2. Log in using your Virginia Tech account 
  3. Click on the Teams icon to launch the Microsoft Teams application. Teams also has a desktop client for Mac and Windows that you can install locally to your system. The steps for creating your team is the same whether you use the Teams Web App or the local desktop client.

  4. Click the Join or create team button

  5. From the Suggested Teams page, click the Create a team button in the first box labeled Create a team

  6. In the Create your team window, enter the Team name. Make sure the name is descriptive and easily identifies the purpose of your team.

  7. (Optionally) Enter a description for the new team to further describe its purpose.

  8. For the Privacy setting, you can choose
    1. Private – Only team owners can add members
    2. Public – Anyone in your organization (Virginia Tech) can join

  9. If you already have an existing SharePoint Group for the new team that you are building, you can upgrade it to a Microsoft Team using the Create a team using a group set up by you or Virginia Tech link

  10. Select the Next button.

  11. On the Add Members screen, you can enter the names, email addresses, or the Microsoft 365 accounts for the people, groups, or distribution lists that you would like to add to your team. People automatically receive the Member role when added to a Team.
  12. After every person or group you add, click the Add button.

  13. After adding people, you get to decide which people should be added to the Owners role. Members of this role are authorized to manage members and change the configuration settings for the Team. Adding a group or distribution list does not allow this configuration from this screen. We recommend that you make at least one other member of your Team an Owner so they have the ability to manage the team in your absence.

Your new Microsoft Team is now ready to go!

What can I do with Microsoft Teams?

The short videos below from Microsoft provide a good general overview. 

Welcome to Teams

Take a quick tour of Microsoft Teams

Time: 2m 42s


Overview of teams and channels

Learn how teams can bring together all the right people, communications, files, and tools

Time: 1m 26s


Start and pin chats

Start 1:1 or group chats or make video and audio calls from a chat

Time: 1m 02s


Create and format posts

Create and format a post or announcement to start a conversation in a channel

Time: 48s

Join a Teams meeting

Join a Microsoft Teams meeting from your calendar, or sign in as a guest on the web

Time: 1m 02s

Filter your activity feed

Filter you feed to show more specific items

Time: 52s

Collaboration Strategies using Microsoft Teams

In the section, we will explore some collaboration strategies with Microsoft Teams.

  1. By default, all Team members can view and edit all content. When working with Microsoft Teams keep this basic concept in mind. If you want to share some content with four people in your organization and another set of content with only two of the four people, then you should make two Microsoft Teams (1 for the group of 4 and 1 for the group of 2) and name them appropriately and distinctly. For example, they can be named based on the group you are meeting with or the purpose of the collaboration.
  2. Channels within a Team represent different topics for discussion.  Teams gives you the ability to create topic-based channels for discussion.  If you have one Team for your department, then it may make sense for channels to represent the projects or initiatives that your department is working on.
  3. Documents can be shared outside the team by extending permissions at the document level.  All members of your team have access to all documents within the team.  However, sometimes you need to share a document with an external collaborator.  For Office documents (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.), you can use the Share feature inside the applications to invite external collaborators.  When you do that, the collaborator will receive an email with a link to the document inside your Microsoft Team.  Comments and changes from the collaborator will appear inside the document for your review and approval.  If you do not like their changes, you can always return to a prior version. If the document you want to share is not an Office document, you can open the file list in SharePoint Online to share the document from that location.
  4. Meeting agendas are front and center in Microsoft Teams.  By adding a OneNote tab called “Meetings” to each of your Microsoft Teams channels, you can have a single location where everyone on the team access the agenda of the meeting and captures note.  Simply use the “+” option in the tab area to add the OneNote app and name it “Meetings”.  Before a meeting, enter a new page with the date of the meeting and your agenda items.  When members of the team join the meeting, they can click on the “Meetings” tab to see the agenda and participate in note taking collaboratively.  
  5. Link a Tasks by Planner and To Do tab to assign and track tasks.  If your meeting produces assignments or project tasks, you can connect a Microsoft Planner Board to your team view to easily track the details.  Simply use the “+” option in the tab area to add the Tasks by Planner and To Do app and name it “Tasks”.  This app provides a view of assignments using cards and columns.  You can arrange your board in many different ways to manage tasks in a method that works best for your team. Advanced Tip: Microsoft creates a primary board automatically for every team.  By launching the app, you can access these primary boards and use the full features when working with them including Calendar views, Resource Assignment views, Group By views, etc.
  6. Online Meetings can be conducting either scheduled or impromptu. The strategy for conducting an online meeting in an Online Collaborative Space can vary. If the meeting is impromptu, then from within a Team Channel on the Posts tab, you can click on the Meet drop down at the top right, select Meet Now, and start a meeting. From there, you can invite specific members of the team or other people who have VT Exchange accounts. If you wish to schedule the meeting, then click on the Meet drop down at the top right, select Schedule a meeting. This will allow you to schedule a meeting in advance. When the time comes, all participants can click on the meeting and click on Join to participate in the conversation.
  7. Storing and managing files. If your team has multiple channels, then you should only store documents relevant to the channel within that channel. Conversely, don’t store everything within the General channel. If your file content or structure becomes unwieldy in any one channel, consider breaking it out into multiple channels. This also allows conversations about content to be isolated to the appropriate topic.
  8. Celebrate your Team or a team member’s achievement. Announcing achievements of your team can be done within the Posts tab of the Team. Links to the achievement information or other highlights about the achievement can be provided in the conversation thread. To really accent the accomplishment, you can include emoticons (through the Emoji icon), distinctive animated gifs (through the Giphy icon), or stickers (through the Sticker icon).