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Microsoft Teams is a chat-based collaboration tool that is part of the Office 365 suite of services. Teams enables remote, global and dispersed teams to work together and collaborate through a common workspace, team chat, one-on-one chat, document collaboration and more. Teams is integrated with a variety of other Office 365 services, including Skype, Yammer, Exchange, and SharePoint. It’s a messaging app that brings your team’s conversations, meetings, files, and notes together into a single place for open and seamless collaboration, where the latest updated can be accessed by everyone on the team. It’s a place for teamwork to happen in the open. Why should you use it? It makes communicating one-on-one and with groups a snap. Collaboration happens in real time. All your stuff is there for everyone to help work on.

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Teams is built on top of Groups and provides group members with an option for real-time collaboration using a chat-based workspace. Chats are kept for easy searching and the experience is customizable so that you can follow the discussion channels that interest you and hide those that do not. Teams will allow you to be more agile and spontaneous in your communication, including impromptu meetings with your group members, whereas groups are used more for occasional communication through conversations.

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Keeping everyone in your group informed can be challenging, but Teams allows you to create channels of chat-based discussion on the topics important to your group. You can do everything from brainstorm ideas for a new building design to conducting an informal poll on where to go for lunch. You can choose which tabs appear within each channel so that everyone can see important shared content like project specifications or links to Office documents like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

Need to get immediate feedback on a project idea? With Teams, you can hold an online Skype-based meeting instantly with all members of your group or have a private meeting with your manager. While you could use Skype for Business as well, the conversations and meetings are not saved in a single, organized location. Teams lets you keep your conversations and meetings within the context of your discussion channels for easy reference when you need it.

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Because all of the chats within Teams are kept and searchable, you can gather useful knowledge on any issues within your group that could be turned into process and guideline documentation. An example of this could be a service unit that gets a lot of student foot traffic. The questions asked by students and the answers could be initially obtained via discussions in a chat channel, but later could be turned into a Wiki tab for new employees.

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Teams allows you to leverage third party applications you already own to enhance productivity and information sharing. You can add connectors to channels to allow things like bug-tracking, project management, and analytics to be easily accessible to group members. You can also share files such as existing Office documents from SharePoint document libraries to your discussion channels.

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Project Sites in Sakai are useful for sharing content and having meetings with people outside your department. With Teams, you can do more real-time collaboration such as editing a document with all of your group members at the same time. You also get Sakai’s chat, forum, and email archive in a more streamlined interface using the chat-based discussion channels. Teams eliminates the need to have a separate Adobe Connect account in order to have meetings. You can instantly meet within Teams with one or more members of your group. Consider switching to using Teams for your weekly status meetings or to improve your hiring process when getting feedback on candidates.

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There are some things to be aware of when considering adding Teams to your groups. Guest access is available, however, there are some limitations. Additional information on guest access can be found at: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoftteams/guest-experience

If you have an existing One Note notebook in your group, the notebook is not visible from within Teams. You can only create new sections from within Teams and view existing and new sections of your notebook in the One Note app directly or in the notebook of your group. You can access teams on a variety of platforms, but some browsers may provide a better experience like Firefox or Chrome rather than Internet Explorer.

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Microsoft Teams has clients available for web, desktop (Windows and Mac), and mobile (Android, iOS, and Windows Phone). These clients all require an active internet connection and do not support an offline mode.

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