Building a sense of community on Microsoft Teams

grp-Centre for Innovation and Enterpreneurship. A team for all students and staff at the Centre for Innovation and Enterpreneurship.


Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, University of Bristol



Microsoft Teams


A challenge associated with the shift to digital has not only been engagement and Zoom fatigue but also serendipity and the sense of belonging. Those little chats that usually take place when you bump into someone you know in a lecture theatre, corridor, lift and the wider campus. The moments that show you are part of the wider community. During the COVID pandemic, with all teaching being delivered online, having those serendipitous little face-to-face conversations on campus is rather difficult.


To cultivate serendipity and increase a sense of community, the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship created a Microsoft Teams space shared across all years of the Centre. The space is to make it easier to spark discussions between all members of the Centre - students and staff.

What was done

Before launching the space, a pilot was run. Student reps and staff were first invited to get the space organised.

Teams space's initial channels ranged from a channel where people would introduce themselves to a channel for sharing their work, inspiration and events.

Initally, the channels were: News & Inspiration, Events, Help Me Out - for questions and support, Innovation projects - to post and share work that you are doing, Introductions - to profile different students/staff within the Centre, Tech support

The pilot version received positive feedback and the space was launch to all 307 members of the Centre.

Survey feedback - 11 responses. 63% (7) have selected

The channels and space content did see some changes to increase engagement. Below are the final channels.

MS Teams channels: General, Get tech support, Help me out, Join Book Club, Meet and greet others, Share events and opportunities, Share inspiration, Share your projects, Thank or recognise someone.


What worked well

The Teams space has seen a good level of activity from both staff and staff. It is the channel for sharing events that has seen most engagement. Students and staff have learned to use it to promote events, jobs and opportunities.

Likewise, the space has been used by some to share articles, websites, and inspiration.

MS Teams chat where someone has posted a random thought:

The book club channel has seen some great serendipitous conversations between students and staff on course-related literature.

MS Teams chat where someone suggests a book.

The space has also sparked connections between members in the help me out channel.

MS Teams chat where someone is asking for help with finding a word that describes an ability to have fun.

Tagging other members has proved to be one of the most effective ways to generate engagement in the space.

MS Teams chat where people are talking about game testing and tagging each other. Someone is offering to be a game tester and someone is commenting that the space is already making connections.

Limitations and reflection

The level of engagement could have been greater, given there are 307 members of the space. Some channels such as meet & greet and share your projects have died down. Initially, the channels saw a member of staff moderating the channels and encouraging students to post content and tag one another. When moderation stopped, engagement levels decreased on these channels. In other cases, channels and activity that had been created organically by students (e.g. book club) sustained their level of engagement. For certain categories of content, it appears that a person nudging others to use the space can increase engagement.

The space has however sparked new connection and become a digital space, where members can reach out for help, or share inspirational course-related content and events. It has become a digital notice board of the Centre, building a sense of belonging within the Centre.

Note: The Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship has also launched MS Teams space for all teaching units. Whilst this is not to replace Blackboard (Blackboard remains the space for unit and coursework information, as well as submission points), it has been used instead of Blackboard Collaborate for live sessions, and to allow for easier communication between students and staff. This has been seen as particularly beneficial for drop-in sessions, as students can see who is in an ongoing call or can easily tag their lecturer in a chat to arrange a different meeting.

MS Teams chat where someone is asking another to have a call in Teams.