Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams has both synchronous and asynchronous features. An instructor can create a team for a program, and then invite the students into the team using their email addresses. While MSU uses Microsoft Teams campus-wide as part of Spartan 365, MSU’s implementation of Teams is not recommended for use for programs involving non-MSU participants.

However, Microsoft Teams is available free to anyone, even very large groups, but with some features unavailable. This non-MSU affiliated version of Microsoft Teams may be viable for a program.

Features not available in the free version include: Scheduled meetings; recording of meetings; phone calls and audio conferencing; some management features; and per-user settings.

Main features in the free version include:

  • Chat
  • Video meetings with many participants (but only 4 participants will show up on screen)
  • File storage
  • Can create multiple channels (based on a topic of interest) within a team
  • Can easily share files and distribute assignments
  • Can conduct polls and quizzes
  • Most features can be used through a web interface, but a native application is also available for Windows, Macintosh, Android and iPhone devices.


When sharing or storing files, make sure that they are accessible to all participants, including those with disabilities. The preferred form is a native file format like Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc. A PDF file can be made accessible, but it requires knowledge and effort to do so; it does not happen automatically. If you are including videos, make sure to caption them.

Security and Safety Recommendations

An integral feature of Teams is group and one-on-one chat. Chat content cannot be directly monitored by someone outside the chat participants. Team owners may disable chat and posting features for students, if desired. Students will still be able to reply to posts by instructors.




Skype is a Microsoft-owned competitor to Zoom with many similar features. It supports up to 50 participants in a video call, while Zoom supports much larger sizes. Skype can integrate Microsoft’s Office applications and OneDrive within a meeting.


Skype allows use of a screen reader, such as Narrator (built into Windows) or NVDA for the basic program features (making and answering calls), and in the chat window.

Security and Safety Recommendations

All participants in a Skype call can record the call, including screen sharing. All participants will be alerted if a call is being recorded.

Other recommendations include:

  • Dress appropriately: Instructors and other adults appearing in videos must be dressed in appropriate attire.
  • Have an unidentifiable neutral background: The setting must use a neutral background and not reveal private spaces inside a home.
  • Do not share meeting information (links, passwords) in a public place; communicate this information directly to registered participants only.


It is free for Skype-to-Skype communication over the Internet (connecting cell phones or landlines requires purchasing per-minute credits).