Get started with Microsoft Teams for remote learning

  • 11 minutes to read

For an overview of making the transition to remote learning and resources to help you get started, see our remote learning home page.

Resources to assist educators and students with remote learning are available in Remote teaching and learning in Office 365 Education.

This article covers the actual steps to take in order to get your educational institution set up for remote learning.


If you're an educator, educational leader, or IT professional, these resources may help:

Don't miss the March 4, 2020 blog, How schools can ramp up remote learning programs quickly with Microsoft Teams.

Learning online can be just as personal, engaging and socially connected as learning in a classroom. Students and educators can stay in touch and help each other using conversations, and can feel like they are meeting in person using live meetings. Educators can track student progress in their daily work using Assignments. No one needs to feel out of touch. Many students who learn online say they feel they have more of a voice, and they feel more connected to their educators and peers than they did in the classroom. And, just like in a classroom, educators can use the apps and functions of Teams to support how they work best.

Microsoft Teams is a digital hub that brings conversations, content, assignments, and apps together in one place, letting educators create vibrant learning environments. Build collaborative classrooms, connect in professional learning communities, and connect with colleagues – all from a single experience.

Within Teams, educators can quickly converse with students, share files and websites, create a OneNote Class Notebook, and distribute and grade assignments. Built-in OneNote Class Notebooks and end-to-end assignment management allow educators to organize interactive lessons and provide effective and timely feedback. Educational institute administrators and staff can stay up-to-date and collaborate using Staff Teams for announcements and topical conversations. Educators can share instructional material using Professional Learning Communities.

Use the best practices in this article to start using Teams for your educational needs to enable remote learning capabilities. Class Teams can be used to create collaborative class spaces, provide a virtual meeting platform, facilitate learning with assignments and feedback, and lead live calls with students.

Teams has clients available for desktop (Windows, Mac, and Linux), web, and mobile (Android and iOS) to make sure all your staff and students can stay connected.

Learn more about Teams usage scenarios at the Teams for education webinar series.

User accounts, licenses, and identity security

Teams leverages Microsoft 365 capabilities to authenticate users and provide services. Staff, instructors, and students should have identities established to facilitate collaboration. If identities do not already exist, follow this process to establish them.

Teams licenses need to be enabled for users and then licenses need to be assigned to the users before they can use Teams capabilities. Teams relies on additional Microsoft 365 capabilities such as Microsoft 365 groups, Exchange, SharePoint and OneDrive to enable collaborative scenarios. Users receive the best Teams experience if all these services are also enabled. Teams is supported for users who have email hosted by Google.

Microsoft Teams is included in Office 365 A1, which is free for educational institutions. For IT guidance on how to deploy Office 365 and get your entire educational institution started on Teams, check out this page. For support, you can file a ticket here and for trainings on Teams, visit your local Microsoft Store to speak with a Specialist.


Please review Updated Guidance for M365 EDU Deployment during COVID-19 for our latest information on EDU deployments.

Easily set up Teams

These are the two things you need to do to get up and running with Teams:

1. Allow users to create teams

Students and educators will get the most out of Teams when they can use it with minimal barriers and have the flexibility to tailor it to their needs. One way users can tailor their Teams experience is by having the ability to create teams that meet their needs. By default, everyone can create Microsoft 365 groups and Teams. There are times when this capability may not be appropriate; for example, some customers may want to restrict primary-secondary students from creating Teams. If needed, Microsoft 365 group and Team creation can be restricted to certain security groups within your environment.

Higher education institutions benefit when you let everyone, including students, create teams for classes, research, group projects, and study groups. Primary-secondary schools may want to restrict students from creating Teams to make sure that all student to student communications are happening within a forum that include an adult. In this case, Microsoft 365 group and Team creation can be restricted to all educators and staff.

For a walkthrough of how to create Teams, check out: Create a class team in Microsoft Teams.

2. Configure user experiences using policies


If you need to learn more about how to protect students during meetings, you can check out the Keeping students safe while using meetings in Teams for distance learning. If you want to deep dive into our Admin EDU policy recommendations, you should go to Teams Policies and Policy Packages for Education.

Teams policies provide the ability to control the options available for specific users or groups of users. Policies can be applied to define who should be allowed to use private chat, private calling, meeting scheduling, content types that can be shared, and more.


Our most up-to-date guidance for policies for students and educators can be found at Teams Policies and Policy Packages for Education.

Higher education staff, educators, and students benefit from the capabilities included with the default (global) policies. Some additional policy settings can be enabled to add more functionality to Teams, including enabling translate capabilities in the messaging policy and allowing for automatic meeting transcription in the meeting policy.

Primary-secondary school students may need restricted capabilities provided to students. Policies set boundaries on what the students can do. Because the student population is often the largest set of users and they often receive the most restrictive settings, it is recommended that student policy changes be made to the 'Global (Org-wide default)' polices.


For meeting policies assigned to any users, we recommend setting the "Automatically admit people" setting to "Everyone in your organization". This setting will ensure that non-authenticated users must be admitted from the lobby before they can join Teams meetings. For more information, check out Manage meeting policies in Teams.

Primary school staff and educators should be assigned policies that grant the core capabilities that may be restricted for students. Create new policies that allow the for private chat and meeting scheduling (the default settings for a new policy). Assign these policies in bulk to your staff and educators via batch policy assignment.

Start using Teams

Create Class teams for secure classroom use

Microsoft Teams for Education offers specific team types for educational use. The Class team type is designed for classrooms with specific features, including: Assignments, a OneNote classroom notebook, a class materials folder for securing read-only content for students, and the ability to mute disruptive students. There are a couple of ways in which class teams can be deployed:

  1. School Data Sync (SDS) can be setup by IT, allowing class teams to be created for all classes based on information in the educational institution information system. This process provisions groups for each section and keeps your instructor and student rosters in sync as enrollment changes. Educators are able to convert these groups into class teams using this process. Once a class team is created, Educators have the ability to prepare their team before admitting students. SDS supports over 80 different School Information Systems (SIS systems) for data import, and the SDS support team is ready to assist you in planning and configuration. You can also view our Fast Deployment Guide for Remote Learning to get started quickly.
  2. Educators set up their own class type team and invite students. Educators can do this via adding students to the team, sharing a join code, or sharing a link to the team. If possible, it's best to have educators add their students to the team to ensure the students get access, and are notified that they've been added to a team.

After team setup, team owners can customize their team's settings including adding a team picture, create channels for class subjects or group collaboration areas, add an app like Quizlet/Flipgrid/Kahoot to surface existing educational content, and mention their team for their first post to notify everyone and start the conversation.

Create Staff teams for staff communication and collaboration

Staff type teams are designed for educational institute administrators and staff to easily share information and work together on institute-wide initiatives, including making announcements, settings up meetings, sharing content, and bringing in external apps, like Planner for task tracking. Educational institute administrators can add staff members to the team via the team creation wizard, adding members after the team is created, or by sharing a join code or link to the team. Creating channels is a great way to organize conversation and files by workstream or subject. The Go-to guide for team owners is an excellent place to learn about team owner duties and capabilities.

Teams meeting scenarios

Collaborative meetings for virtual classes

Microsoft Teams meetings support up to 250 concurrent attendees, including the ability to have audio, video, content sharing, whiteboards, and shared notes. Meetings can be scheduled within the Teams client for meeting within a private space or within a team channel, so all team members know about it. Meetings can be recorded and saved for attendees to review later. These recordings can also be transcribed to easily find content that had been discussed. A laptop or mobile phone webcam, microphone, and speaker can be used for meetings, and you can get premium audio/video quality from Microsoft Teams optimized devices.

In Teams, meeting organizers can end a meeting for all participants. With this capability, educators can ensure that students don't stay in a meeting unsupervised after a class is finished.

District/University events or updates

Some instruction needs larger audiences and additional production capabilities. These meetings often have defined presenters, producers, and moderated Q&A. Teams supports these sessions using Microsoft Teams live events. Live Events can be used for scenarios, such as district or university-wide updates, leadership addresses, and for instruction to large classes or student groups, or extend to your community. Learn more about conducting live sessions at: plan and schedule a live event, produce a live event, attend a live event, and moderating a Q&A.

Recommended Tips & Tricks

You can learn more about how Teams is used in Education at: Microsoft Teams for Education.


Some key Teams features are not specific to education. Tips and tricks for core Teams capabilities can be found at: Teams Help and Learning.

Prevent users from changing their profile photo

Teams honors the Outlook on the web mailbox policy setting that's configured by tenant admins to control whether users can change their profile picture. If the -SetPhotoEnabled setting is turned off, users can't add, change, or remove their profile picture. To prevent students or staff from changing or removing their profile picture, turn off this setting in the Outlook on the web mailbox policy that's assigned to them.

For example, if a student uploads a profile picture that's approved by your educational institute's IT or HR department, no action is needed. However, if a student uploads a picture that's inappropriate, change the picture according to your educational institute's internal policies.

Adoption content

Microsoft has developed adoption content and strategy guidance for deploying Teams. The Teams adoption guide provides a good overview of available content and the Teams Customer Success Kit provides many templates that can be used for Teams awareness. The Microsoft Educator Center provides education specific training on how Microsoft Teams and OneNote are used in the classroom.

Additional adoption resources include:

Support Readiness

IT professionals and support staff can get up to speed with Teams architecture and underlying use of Microsoft 365 capabilities with the Teams IT architecture posters and admin technical training.

Additional support resources include:

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to let me know: