Community Building with MS Teams

As a unit lead or member of staff responsible for teaching at unit level, I want to communicate with students on the unit, through announcements, chat and through Team meetings in order to create a sense of community and engagement.

How active Teams is for community engagement may depend on:

  • how confident your students are about contributing
  • how motivated students are and how relevant the discussion is to your learning
  • how large the unit cohort is, Teams chats often best for smaller groups
  • how you facilitate the engagement. For example, how you model and encourage use.

Teams solution

The text Chat facility within Teams affords continuous communication. Staff and students tell us that the Teams chat is more like a WhatsApp group than a VLE discussion board - less formal in nature and combining real-time chat with ongoing asynchronous interaction.

  • Posts can include images, memes, attachments, and links as well as likes in response to messages.
  • Posts can be flagged as important, or as announcements.
  • Channels provide opportunities for multiple discussions and interactions, for example to be used by tutorial groups within the unit. See separate use case on Groupwork.
  • Posts can be sent to multiple channels.

Case studies

Getting started

Before creating your community, decide how you will use your Team for community engagement.

  • Is it suitable for your cohort?
  • Who and where are your students?
  • Are they learning at a distance? What level are they?
  • Will they also be seeing each other face to face?
  • How confident will they be in posting and communicating in a space seen by peers and teachers?
  • Students may also use their own social media channels to communicate. Why would they use this channel?

If your unit has a large cohort, you may consider using channels (public or private) to:

  • Focus the conversation on a topic or activity.
  • Facilitate conversation with a smaller group of students.


  • Gilly Salmon’s 5 step model provides a guide to building engagement from initial access and motivation to knowledge construction and development.
  • Consider an icebreaker activity to get the conversation started.
  • Set expectations with your students. When will you post? What should students post? When? How often will you reply?
  • Images, videos and emojis can help engagement.
  • You can add Padlet boards and similar tools as tabs in channels.
  • Use channels to provide more focused discussion for particular purposes, or with particular groups of students.
  • Provide advice to students on how to set and manage their personal notifications.