Guide: Setting up a Class in Microsoft Teams

Why Teams?

Teams, like Blackboard or Google Classroom, is a platform instructors can use as a learning management system (LMS). Unlike Google Apps which are little to no cost to students at any institution, Teams is most practical as an LMS option when your campus or system already subscribes to Microsoft 365 products.

Course Format

Teams is appropriate for use in remote, hybrid, flipped, or in-person courses. It works well with a range of class sizes and student feedback suggests that the availability of a user-friendly Teams mobile app increases student engagement with the platform, especially for interactive and searchable discussions.

As a higher education level instructor, I have used Teams in both in-person and remote courses. It is particularly useful for fostering community among students. Here is a quick guide to setting up your own classroom in Teams.

Logging in to Teams

Cleveland State University (CSU)

Use your CSU credentials to log in to Microsoft Teams. You may also access it through the CSU Webmail. To do so, sign into your email via MyCSU ( When in your CSU email inbox, click on the square (made up of 9 small squares) in the upper left corner and choose Teams from the dropdown menu of resources. You will see our course team listed.

Non-CSU Users

Sign into your institution’s Teams platform or visit

Basic Teams Classroom Setup

  1. Once logged in to Microsoft Teams, click on “Join or Create a Team”
  • Choose “Create a Team” and then at “Select Team Type” Choose “Class” (NOTE: For a Remote Office Hours Space you may want to choose “Professional Learning Community” or “Other”)
  • As you create your own course team, think about findability for students. At CSU, I name my courses with a common formula: CSU, Course Prefix, Course Number & Semester. i.e. CSUHIS455F21. I also choose a thumbnail image for the Team that matches any other platforms I use in that course (such as Blackboard). For instance, in this Modern World History course, the Teams thumbnail matches the Open Educational Resource for the course
  • Once you create the Team, Teams will ask you to add people. Currently, there is not a smooth way to import students into Teams at CSU (there may be at other institutions). I add any instructors to the course (be sure to click on the “Teacher” tab before adding) and build the team before adding students. You can add instructors by ID number, last name etc.
  • After creating your team, you can customize it by clicking on the three dots next to the Team name and selecting “edit Team.”
  • Add a thumbnail image by selecting “upload.”

Sharing Team Access with your Students

If you plan to use Teams in tandem with other LMS or platforms, or want students to add themselves to the Team, you can set a Team Code. Go to the three dots next to your Team name and choose “Manage Team.” Under “Settings” > “Team Code” you can generate a unique code for your Team to share with your student via email or LMS. Typically only students at your institution can add themselves to the Team. All guests must be added by the Team instructor.

Adding Content

The “Class” Teams type comes populated with tabs for Files (Sharepoint/OneDrive), Class Notebook (OneNote), Assignments, and Grades. You will not be able to remove these tabs from your Team. You can, however, add tabs (see adding Apps)

Upload Class Materials

The “Class Materials” folder is read only. This is the place to put your syllabus, course readings, etc. Students will be able to view your documents, but not edit them. Once you set it up, it will be available under the “Files” tab.

Set up a Class Notebook (optional)

Each Teams Class is linked to OneNote. You must set up the Class Notebook to activate the connection. You may choose to set up a blank notebook or integrate an existing OneNote notebook into the course.

The Class Notebook can serve as a hub for handouts, student work, etc. Students each have their own private notebook space that only the instructor and individual student can see. This can be a useful space for personalized and private feedback for students.

Notebook Startup

  1. Click next to proceed through the set-up steps.
  2. You will be asked to customize each student’s private notebook. This is useful if you want to distribute copies of assignments or activities to each student and have them edit their copy privately.
  3. Once the notebook has been created both instructor and students can interact with it in Teams or OneNote.
  • Click on the stack of books in the upper left corner of the notebook and begin adding content. You may edit to customize for your course.

Adding Tabs

Add a Blackboard Login Tab

1. Click on “Add new Tab”

2. Select “Website.”

3. Provide the name and URL of the site. (Pro-Tip: Open the Blackboard Login page in an incognito or private browser window and then copy paste the URL to the login page)

Add a Syllabus Tab

1. Open the Files Tab and upload the Syllabus file in PDF (or Word) format if you have not done so already.

3. In the General Channel click on “Add New Tab”

4. Select the matching format PDF or Word file from the tiles.

5. Fill in the file name for your tab in the popup box.

6. Select the file you wish to populate the tab.

Add a Course Website or Ebook

1. Click on “Add new Tab”

2. Select “Website.”

3. Provide the name and URL of the site.

Discussion Spaces and Channels

  1. Each Team has its own channels to organize discussions & content. You may organize these channels however you like. The “General” channel cannot be removed and is the landing page for team members. You can post announcements here and create tabs that will be used for the course.
  2. Start a conversation to create a post in the channel. If you have a detailed message and want the formatting menu (similar to a word processor) click on the “A”  symbol.
  3. Create new channels by clicking on the three dots next to the Team name or in the upper right corner of the Team window. Select “Add Channel.” Pro Tip: Teams always displays channels in alphabetical order after the General channel. Keep this in mind when you name your channels. You can rename channels at any time.
  4. You will be asked to set the privacy level of your channel. Channels Accessible to everyone on the team are “Standard.” At times, you may want to create “Private” channels for groupwork or for instructors only. Click Add to add your channel.
  5. For ease of use on the student side, be sure to check “Automatically show this channel in everyone’s channel list” so that it appears in their default menu. Otherwise the channel will be accessible, but hidden, from students.
  • Each “Standard” channel has two default tabs: Files and Notes. The Files tab is connected to Sharepoint/OneDrive just like the main page. The Notes tab is connected to the collaboration space in Class Notebook.  “Private” channels are not automatically linked to OneNote but you can add it as a tab.
  • Discussion channels are great for synchronous and asynchronous student discussions. They are also searchable for grading purposes. Here is a sample:

Adding Apps

One of the advantages to Microsoft Teams as a Classroom space is that it provides a single platform that links multiple apps. Common interactive educational apps like Flipgrid, Miro, NearPod and Pear Deck are can be integrated into the Team as tabs so students don’t have to leave the classroom and juggle multiple logins.

Adding Assignments

Instructors can administer assignments in the Teams Classroom. They will be linked to the “Grades” tab and can be graded in app. If you are using Blackboard or another LMS for your gradebook, these grades can be exported as a csv file.

  1. Click on the “Assignments” tab and then “create”
  2. Choose Quiz or Assignment
  3. Fill in the fields


If you use integrated Teams assignments the “Grades” tab will populate with assignments and allow you to comment.

You can also ignore the Grades tab and use the gradebook of your choice (Blackboard for example) When I surveyed students at the start of my courses, they preferred discussions in Teams and grading in Blackboard.

Individual Meetings with Students or Office Hours

You can also interact with students individually or in groups in the “Chat” section of Teams (see left general menu). This means they can message you on the app or in the web version and you can respond to individual questions privately but in the context of the Teams platform

Other Uses for MS Teams

Remote Office Space

I also use MS Teams to set up my remote office space. This space is team type “Other” and open to all Teams users at my organization (CSU). That way any one in my campus community can “stop by.”

Visit my office:

Department Advising Center (Class Type)

During emergency remote learning all department functions moved online as well. That included major advising. As a result, we set up a remote advising center using the Class type in Teams. Using the Class type provided us with the default Class Notebook . The individual notebooks became the private advising “file folders” for each student.

Department Resource Center (Professional Learning Community)

Our graduate assistants staff the History Resource Center. They transformed this student resource for assignment assistance and writing help to remote environment using Microsoft Teams PLC type.

Teams Resources

Cleveland State University

Video: Setting up Your Classroom or Office in Microsoft Teams

CSU Teams Resource Page:

Microsoft Teams CSU Test Classroom:


Introduction to Microsoft Teams:

GSA 2018: Politics of Protest & Gender, PBL & DH

The German Studies Association conference is well underway – you can follow the #gsa2018 and #gsadh to keep up with all the exciting panels.

I will update this post with a conference debrief, but for now here is a link to my own slides on digital humanities and pedagogy. I have included links to syllabi, assignments, and rubrics that I use to teach digital methods at Cleveland State University. Feel free to contact me with any questions!

UPDATE: You can read more about the digital humanities research seminar here.

Politics of Peace and Gender + Digital Humanities

*This post originally appeared on the Peace & Change Blog on July 23, 2018.

For a couple years now, department colleagues have encouraged me to find a space where my research in protest movements and gender intersected with my interests in digital humanities and pedagogy. The product of those conversations is a course I offered in Fall 2017, “The Politics of Peace and Gender.” Excited by the possibility of sharing my passion for these fields with my students, I had three main goals:

    1. Focus the course on the interdisciplinary work of geographers, political scientists, sociologists, historians, anthropologists, musicologists, and activists;
    2. Emphasize the transferable skills our department and the AHA argue are an essential part of history education;
    3. Pilot this course as a methods course for a future certificate or minor program in digital humanities at CSU.

Here is the description from the syllabus: 

This course investigates perceptions of peace and gender in politics, drawing on insights from international relations and human rights history to study gendered conceptualizations of peace as “feminine” and assumptions that militarism and war are historically “masculine.” The chronology of the course begins with Bertha von Suttner’s pacifist novel Lay Down your Arms! (1889) and ends in the present day. Through primary and secondary research, students will evaluate the importance of gender analysis in the study of war and its opponents. In particular, this course emphasizes the various roles of men and women participating in protest events and the spaces they choose occupy. The course fosters a transnational perspective, highlighting different historical and geographical contexts such as 19th– century nationalism in Europe, the experience and aftermath of World War I, international debates around disarmament including nuclear disarmament, gendered violence during the dirty wars in Latin America, and more recent mass transnational protest events such as the Women’s March on Washington and the Occupy Movement. 

“Politics of Peace and Gender” enrolled 13 undergraduates, 2 graduate students, and 3 “Project 60” students. This was one of the most academically diverse groups of students I have ever taught in an upper-level history course. Not only did students range in technical ability, they came to the course from various majors and programs including Asian Studies, Black Studies, Education, English, Gender and Women’s Studies, History, Political Science, Psychology, and Social Studies. Early in the semester, I adopted the strategy of pulling key terms from our daily readings and posting them on the course chat (in this case we used university-supported Microsoft Teams). I also wrote the term list on the whiteboard in the classroom before each discussion. While I took attendance, students could walk to the board and put a checkmark next to the term(s) they wanted to be sure we reviewed during our session. This turned out to be a valuable exercise due to the interdisciplinary nature of both the materials and students. For instance, a term like “thick description” is familiar to history and anthropology students, but often unfamiliar to psychologists and others in the room.  

In order to emphasize transferable skills, I approached this course as a digital methods course where students created an Omeka exhibit on a protest event of their choice as a final project. I drew heavily on my experience with project-based learning (PBL) and used the student-created exhibits from the Colored Conventions Project as a model to design a series of weekly skill-based labs that provided a foundation for the final project. I thought carefully about the branding for this course, and ultimately decided to use the word “lab” for work sessions. While the idea of a laboratory is borrowed from STEM fields, I use it to emphasize that these sessions are a time to experiment with digital methods. I made a conscious effort to convey to my students that it was ok to stumble, or even fail, when creating digital content – just like many scientists.  

I love that digital humanities methods and projects challenge the assumption among academics and students that all assignments must represent a “finished” product. I stress to my students that it is fine to have work in progress. After all, academics present their own work at conferences before polishing ideas into an article or book. This is the reason why I grade labs separately from the final project (which deviates slightly from the traditional PBL model). My goal is to provide students with space to grow and, I hope, to be more courageous in their final project. Students were able to use network diagrams, maps, and other elements from their labs, but they were not required to use all of them in order to preserve the element of choice that is considered key to PBL.  

Project-based learning calls for a public product for the final projects. The “Politics of Peace and Gender,” student exhibits are posted on a public Omeka site. All students were required to present their exhibit at the DigitalCSU working group research showcase in our library at the end of the semester. At the time, I hosted the site as a subdomain on my own website. I am now in the process of working with the CSU library to archive this site on their servers to ensure sustainability and to link it more clearly to the university’s Bepress site, EngagedScholarship @ CSU. Students were evaluated according to this rubric. 

As a special topics course “Politics of Peace and Gender” was cross-listed for both undergraduate and M.A. students. Each M.A. student completed the Omeka exhibit and also wrote an academic blog post. You can read Katherine Behnke’s post on Bernadette Devlin on the Peace & Change blog. It’s an excellent example of how research for the digital exhibit revealed a significant gap in the historiography of a well-known protest event. 

Student exhibits covered topics from The 1919 May 4th Incident in China to Bloody Sunday in Northern Ireland. You can view them all on