Microsoft Teams as a tool for messaging, video and audio calls and collaboration

OVERVIEW

Microsoft Teams is a native collaboration and communication tool in Windows. It can facilitate live audio and video calls, screensharing, instant message chats as well as group (team) collaboration and communication. Because it is a Microsoft product it ties into Outlook, Outlook calender, OneDrive, Sharepoint, Word, Excel easily.

The two biggest functions that a user may want is to Chat with other users and to host a Team, or group, workspace. In the Teams program these two areas are located by the left most column, the Chat function is located by hitting the "Chat" icon, circled in green in this image, and the "Teams" function is opened by the people icon circled in red. The user can only have one of these open at a time, but a red box will appear with a number in it to indicate there are unseen messages or actions under each section.

 

Accessing Microsoft Teams:

The Teams program can be used online in a web browser or on a computer program. Both methods of using the program are the same.

The online browser version can be accessed from inside Outlook by hitting the 9 dot icon in the upper left corner of the page, and choose Teams, or by going to Teams.microsoft.com.

The desktop program can be accessed through the Start Menu of the computer, listed under 'M' (for Microsoft Teams). 

A note about the desktop version: Teams will likely attempt to load itself at the start up of the computer asking for user input, and will do so each time until the user puts in their computer/windows username. After the initial load of Teams the program will run in the background all of the time unless the user actively closes it.

Chat Feature (including Video, Audio and Screenshare):

The most basic use of Teams, and a great way to start off in it, is by using the Chat function. This will allow typed conversation, image and file sharing between members of the chat. A chat can be between 2 people or many at once and you can even use your already made email groups.   

To start a chat with someone hit the New Chat button in the top bar of Teams.

 

This will bring up a box where you can enter in the names of the other people who will be part of the chat. This can be a person in the Salem domain (has a salem.com email address), an email distribution group, or an email address from someone outside the Salem domain; if you are attempting to chat with someone outside of the salem domain you need to have at least one more person on the chat from inside the domain. 

As you type the program will search the Salem domain to see if the person is in the system:

Once you have identified all of the people you wish to chat with hit enter and the chat will start.

Converse!

Some things to notice about this screen in Teams: 

1) Once a chat has been started it is available in the Recent Chats section. They are saved and always able to be used. The chats rise by the latest action in them; the most current or active is at the top of this list. They can be deleted if the user sees fit, but the recipient may not realize it was deleted.

2) Each username has a small circle icon with it that denotes if the user's status. 

  • Black/grey - they are offline
  • Red - they are unavailable, this ties into the Outlook calendar so if the user has an event on their calendar that may show them as unavailable automatically
  • Orange - they were available but stepped away for a moment
  • Green - they are available
The user has their own status dot as well that can be updated as they wish, and override any status put in place by Outlook Calendar. Click on the username in the upper right and then where it says "Available" is a pop up where you can manually change your status.

3) Inside a chat there are more tools to interact with another user: Video Chat, Audio Chat and Screensharing.

The buttons to do these functions are in the upper right of the chat window. Video and Audio chats are parallel in the controls available. A screenshare can be transitioned into an audio or video chat with a single button press.

  • Video Chat: Hit this to use the computers audio and video system. This will open up a second screen that gives controls of the video chat, including live screen sharing, the chat conversation as well as audio and video settings that can be adjusted.
  • Audio Chat: Same as above, but the communication starts with the camera off. Screensharing and Voice Chat is a great tool. 
  • Screensharing: The user can share the whole screen (if there is more than one monitor the option will be available to choose the screen) or a distinct program window (this is beneficial if there are security concerns due to other programs content on the same computer). The user will choose the option of what to show to the other members of the chat. 
When the recipient has accepted the shared screen window the shared screen will have a red border and a black box will appear at the top of the user's screen, in this box the user can grant access for the recipient to control the user's keyboard and mouse in the sharing session.

 

Teams/Groups:

To use, or set up, a Teams workspace for use by many head to the Teams section of the program.

The list of Team workspaces the user has access to is listed under "Your Teams". If the user chooses to, a specific group may be "Pinned" to the top of the list; pinning a team makes accessing the workspace even faster as it is always at the top of the list.

Features of a Team:

Inside of a Team there are communication and 

Create or Join a Team workspace:

If the user wishes to create a new team workspace, or join one that they are not part of at the time the bottom action will be pressed.

If the user is told to join a Team, they will have been provided a code to enter after the "Join or create a team" is pressed. Once the code is entered the system will validate it and the user will be added to their new team workspace with access to everything the other members have.

To create a new Team workspace hit the 'Create Team' button and follow the prompts.

If these three steps were done the new group will be available (without any members except the creator).

The group created will be available in the left column of active Teams. In each Team there is along the top:

  • 'Posts' section that is an activity timeline showing the activity inside the team, chats, emails, when a user is added, etc...
  • 'Files' section where members can upload files for anyone on the team to refer to. Files can be emailed to the team and the email and any attachments would be also found in the Files Section.
  • 'Wiki' section where some general documentation about the team, its purpose, repeated questions and answer can be posted for all to refer to.
  • '+' button where a new section can be added via a previously uploaded Word Document, Excel sheet, Sharepoint file, or any number of microsoft products can be made into a separate tab this would enable online Office.

 

The main, general, page of the Team will look like the above image.

  • Add more people: this button will all the user to add members to the team, this can include internal or external users. Just like adding members to a chat type the member name and if they are an internal user their account will appear. If they are an external user their email address will need to be used to add them to the team.
  • Create more channels: a channel is a sub group of the team. An distinct workspace for a project or discussion where any member of the team can take part in communication, file sharing etc... 
  • Open the FAQ: this opens up Microsoft's FAQ files for Teams, there is a lot of good information in here.

 

Adding members:

Start typing users names and Teams will identify if they are in the system as a domain user. If the user is not available in the drop down list the system provides then the user's email address can be used to add the new user. The outside user will be denoted with (GUEST) so that anyone viewing that user can immediately see that they are not inside the Salem domain.

Channels:

These are separate sub groups under the over arching Team. This is an explicit workspace for the sub group itself, the membership is from the over arching team