A&S Learning Design & Technology Knowledge Base

Why choose Microsoft Teams for your course?

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Note: UVA's support for Microsoft Teams is not nearly as robust as its support for UVACollab. If you decide to use Teams for your course, be aware that you may need to do more of the technical heavy-lifting on your own.

Microsoft Teams provides a set of tools to aid in online course delivery. Within Teams, instructors can house documents, administer assignments, provide space for student collaboration, conduct online meetings, post grades, and create a virtual classroom community. As such, it can potentially enable a greater sense of continuity between in-class and out-of-class instruction compared to platforms like Zoom (which primarily promotes synchronous instruction) or an LMS (which primarily focuses on the asynchronous). Microsoft Teams establishes a persistent space in which online meetings, conversation threads, resources, and assignments all exist in one platform and can be easily accessed at the same time.

This article will focus on comparing Teams to other tools in order to assist instructors in deciding which tools will help them best meet the needs of their students.

Limitations of current platforms


  • As a video-conferencing tool, Zoom is not designed to create a robust learning environment. If your style of teaching is focused on straightforward content delivery (lecture) and limited interaction, Zoom can enable you to speak virtually to students in a virtual mimicry of the classroom. But its tools for collaboration are limited and it requires other platforms to do things like collaborate, share documents, and submit assignments.

Learning Management System

  • Most Learning Management Systems exist as a framework to house course content (files, assignments, lessons, grades, etc). But their architecture can be somewhat convoluted, with more limited tools for synchronous collaboration. They can incorporate external tools, but not as a seamless learning experience. They function better as an extension of face-to-face learning than a replacement for it.

What can Microsoft Teams Offer?

Technical Considerations

  • Enables most of the functionality of Zoom and Collab in one integrated platform that is designed for group collaboration.
  • Includes additional functionality: e.g. multiple channels for different groups/units, collaborative documents, embedded course content (e.g. videos, hyperlinks, PDFs, PowerPoint), embedded tabs for external websites.
  • There are some limitations, including lack of robust internal polling or discussion functionality, and a gradebook that does not sync with SIS.

Pedagogical Considerations

  • Creates a cohesive learning environment that can incorporate in-class and out-of-class activities and resources in one persistent space.
  • Enables synchronous and asynchronous collaboration in multiple formats.
  • Houses teaching materials, assignments, assessments, video recordings, activities, and conversation threads in one platform that is more intuitive for students.

Comparison of features: Teams and Zoom

This chart compares overall features of Zoom and Teams.

Microsoft Teams For STEM.pdf | Powered by Box - Google Chrome

Comparison of whiteboards: Teams and Zoom

The following chart compares whiteboard tools in Zoom and Teams. To clarify, Microsoft Teams utilizes the free Microsoft Whiteboard Application. When using the Whiteboard tool within Teams, there is a limited version of the application available to meeting participants.

The full desktop version of Whiteboard is only available to those who download it from the Microsoft application store. When in a Teams meeting, you can access the full version by selecting “Open in App”when using the Teams whiteboard.

Tool Features Comparisons.pdf | Powered by Box - Google Chrome

Comparison of annotation: Zoom and Teams

Zoom: All whiteboard annotation tools are available to use on your shared screen.

Teams: There is no built-in annotation tool to use on a shared screen in Teams. One alternative is to do a screen share your PowerPoint presentation and use PowerPoint’s pen tool, laser pointer, or zoom/pan tools.

Comparison of polls: Teams (Forms), Zoom, and Poll Everywhere

This chart compares the Zoom polling tool, Microsoft Forms, and Poll Everywhere. You can create a poll, quiz or survey in Microsoft Forms, which can be added to your Teams classroom page. You can also add your Poll Everywhere homepage as a website tab so students can answer poll questions within Teams

Tool Features Comparisons.pdf | Powered by Box - Google Chrome

To see an example course in Teams, watch this video.

To join an example course in Teams, click here.


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