Canvas,  Educational Tools,  Teaching & Learning

Microsoft Teams and Canvas: Using a Microsoft Team with a Course

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We’ve spent the past couple weeks talking about the Microsoft Teams-Canvas integration — setting up the integration and creating meetings as well as the basics for joining and recording Teams Meetings through Canvas. Today we’re going to pivot and look at Microsoft Teams itself and how you can leverage it to use in your course.  

Teams allows you to have a secondary space for communication or collaboration in your course. You can create channels and assign members to them, so you could have a channel for your entire class and separate channels with only specific students assigned to them. Student groups could then use those smaller channels for group collaboration work, chatting back and forth via text or even Teams video chats. If you want to talk further about potential use cases for Teams in your course, please don’t hesitate to contact us at  

Now, we’ll dive into technical side of things and look at what you’ll do set up your Team and get it ready for your students to access. We’re presuming you’ve already set up the Teams-Canvas integration. If you haven’t, check out Microsoft Teams and Canvas: Setting up the Integration and Creating Meetings before coming back here.

Accessing Teams 

To start, you’ll need to access Microsoft Teams, and the easiest way is through the app. If you haven’t downloaded the app to your computer yet, you can easily get it by going to your Canvas course, clicking the “Microsoft Teams classes” link in your course navigation, clicking the course card on the new page, then selecting the “download the app” option on the next screen.  

Once Teams has downloaded and you’ve signed in, you’ll see a list of your teams on the left side of the window. When you’re inside your course Team, you’ll see a banner at the top of the screen prompting you to activate the Team – you can do that now and allow your students to see the Team, or you can wait to activate it until you’ve finished setting up channels and assigning members. We recommend the latter so you can get everything as you want it before introducing it to your students.  

Creating channels 

In the left panel on Teams, you’ll see the list of all the Teams you have access to.  

  1. Find the Team for your course.  
  2. Click the three dots in line with the Team name to open up a drop-down menu.  
  3. Select “Add channel.”  
    1. On this new pop-up, enter the channel name. You’ll want to choose something descriptive and clear. For example, if this is going to be a channel for a singular group, consider matching the channel name with the group name in Canvas. If it’s going to be a channel for the entire class to ask questions or discuss a single semester-long assignment, give the channel the same name as the assignment!  
    2. Choose who can access the channel with the “privacy” setting. The default is to give everyone in the team access, so if that’s what you want, you don’t have to change anything. If you want the channel to be for a sub-set of students, use the drop-down to select “Private.”  
    3. If you are creating a standard channel for everyone to view, check the box for “automatically show this channel in everyone’s channel list.” This will ensure the channel is quickly and easily visible to all your students.  
    4. Click “Add.”  

If you created a standard channel accessible to everyone, you’re then done! If you created a private channel, you’ll now have a window where you can add individual students to the channel. Simply start typing their name in the box, then select them as Teams auto-fills their information. Click “add” to add the student(s).  

Assigning members 

If you created some private channels and skipped adding members, there’s no reason to fret – you can always change that later.  

To add or remove members for a channel:  

  1. Go to that particular channel in Teams.  
  2. In the upper right corner, click the “three dots” menu.  
  3. Select “manage channel.”  
  4. To add members, click the “Add member” button.  
    1. Start typing a name in the box, then click “Add.”  
    2. Repeat for any other students you want to add to the channel and click “close” when you’ve finished.  
  5. To remove members, simply click the “X” next to their name. If you accidentally remove a member, you can quickly add them back using the “add member” process!  

If you haven’t already activated the Team, now is the time to do so! Click that “Activate” button at the top of the window, and students will then be able to access the Team. They’ll get an email letting them know that they’ve been added to the Team, and they can follow a link from that email or use the “Microsoft Teams classes” link in Canvas to get to the Team.  

One final best practice 

Now that we’ve covered some of the why’s and how’s, we’ll leave you with one final best practice. Whenever you’re communicating inside your course team, make sure you use Teams’ easy tagging feature. You can tag the entire team, a particular channel, or particular users. To tag, you’ll use an @ command – @TeamName, @ChannelName, or @StudentName. As you type the command, Teams will show a list of all potential command from what you’ve typed so far! Select the tag you want from the list, and you’ll see it turn into a blue hyperlink. Now, anybody in that group (or whoever you tagged) will get a notification. 

Questions? Leave us a comment below or email us We’d love to help!  

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