Building a community using "Microsoft Teams"

Using Teams application to build a community of Amateur Radio Enthusiasts to chat online using text or video and file sharing etc.

11/19/20237 min read

Teams has been around as a Microsoft application for quite awhile , and is heavily used inside education, business and other such organisations.
Historically 'personal users' at home have been 'excluded' as they were not part of any specific organisational group and as such were not allowed to use the application.

This change starting back in 2020 with Microsoft now making available "Teams for Home" application. (Beta rolled out Aug 2023) - This provided a 'free' version of Teams.
Now they combining this into the standard Teams which will allow both free and paid login accounts with the same app.

Teams is now available as a single application allowing both free and paid logins meaning that now you only need the single application to use the system.

Meaning that this allows users that have a Microsoft account the ability to participate with others in Community Groups and have one-to-one chat, audio telephone or video calls (300 users with 60 minutes continuous call meetings etc.) available for free for groups.

I would recomennd join the "Amateur Radio Community Group" which is where we are currently. (details below)

Building Communities...

"This allows people to build or join online groups with a common set of interests and maintain communication using various methods, at various times of the day, such as in the case below for as 'Amateur Radio users'.

As a 'Teams user' you can belong to 'many' individual Communities Groups which interests you."

Getting Started

As it is a Microsoft application, then you need to have a Microsoft account. (even if you use it just for this reason of keeping in touch with a community etc.)

This is not all that an account will give you the ability to use the online Microsoft Office apps such as Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Email etc for free as well as giving you 'Onedrive' Cloud storage for you backup files if required. So if you don't have one then why not make one with perhaps you callsign as part of the account name etc.
(E.g. <Your Callsign>

The Microsoft Account sign-up page is here:

It is possible to signup for Teams account using any Email address (e.g. Gmail) 
Which means the ID of the user in Teams will have the Google Email assignment etc.

Once you have a Microsoft account (or just made one) then you need to download the new 'Teams ' Application from the Windows/Apple Store or other OS application locations. (you can contue to just use a Browser version if you wish)

The mobile versions of Teams have more capabilities than the Browser operation and you can have lots of places/method to login on devices you want to use it with.

Download and go through the install as guided then login into the installed app using the Microsoft account you want to use etc.

For information on "What's New" in this app can be found Here

Also a blog post here by the Teams Development giving a great overview of Building a "Community"

The fundamental aspect of the application is in working/communicating as a 'team'

So the first thing is to get together with some similar like mind users that might want to form group/teams to discuss particular aspects of radio communication or specific topics etc. These friends can then be grouped together and keep in touch and have audio telephone or video calls when they want to meet online for chat/discussion etc.
There are some already created communities which you could request joining, or you could create your own community group there is not one that covers your interests.

You can have one to one chats/calls once you have the application setup and left in the background. If offline you can catch up later when you available. Summary 'activity' emails can be sent to you if required to let you know what has been happening.
The video call system can make regular group meet-ups possible using a common calendar scheduling system.

If you want to invite others to the 'chat' then that can be done easily using the 'invite' system. If they don't have the application installed then they can use the 'web' interface to Teams which works in a very similar manner etc.

Images/files can be transferred as well as running polls, sharing screens  or having tasks assigned if required to make it a much more formal discussion of things that need to be done.

Using Teams
There is a 'Community' group already setup as a starter to get things going called

'Amateur Radio'
(Click above to use 'Teams Join Link')

If you search in the communities section you should be able to find it and join in.
(No approval is required at present)

If you want to create your own community group for any other topic then create it and just let us all know about it.

'Staying up to Date' & Your Online 'Status'

Like a lot of these types of application you can run it when required and completely shut it down etc.

But there might be more value in keeping the application running in the system tray or background so that you can be 'notified' when new posts are made or people can call you for question or chat.
You can also assign this app as one of the 'startup' or 'login' apps to be run automatically when you login to PC or Mac etc.

Although if you are busy doing something you do not want to get interrupted by you can change your 'status' to be do not disturb or away for a while etc. giving other group member information that you can't be disturbed at this time.
When you have more time you can just change you status back to be 'available'.

Changing status can be done by clicking on the personal icon top right of the app. This will then give you the option to click and change your 'live' status.
The status can change automatically for example if you are in a telephone or video call it will show as 'busy'.

The Teams Application Interface...

This show recent activity

This control shows all the community groups are are in together with news

This shows the Chat discussions you have had with individuals

This is the local Teams Calendar specific to you. (Can be linked to Google Calendar)

The top right Icon display you profile and status e.g. Busy, Available etc.

Below that are icons for sharing invites and settings etc.

When in the Chat section this is where you messages are show together with the ability to create new messages or Video calls to individuals.

The Communities section display shows the group that you are a member of, together with the post/announcements available in the group.

Making a one-2-one call to another user
If you wish to create a message, telephone or video call to another user in the group then this can be done as follows:

(First it is best to check their Status as they may be Busy, Offine or in another call etc.)

  • Click into the Search bar at the top of the application

  • Start typing the name of the person you wish to contact, then from the shown list of possible choices click on the shown list for the person you want.

  • This will show any past calls or chats that you last had with that user as well as proving opportunities to type a message directly to them.

  • To call/contact them use the icons shown at the top of the window (video camera icon or telephone handset icon.) 

Having a 'group' meeting/video call
If for example you want to have a group call with some other members of the community can schedule a video meeting and invite the people involved.

They will all join the video call using the same 'meeting link' invite  to discuss/chat the topic of your choice etc

Just create the 'Event' using the button, and then send it out to the whole group or just the ones that need to attend etc.

The concept of an always on/open video chatroom  is not a fundamental part of the Teams application ethos as group video calls are limited in time and involve just the members of the group. But what you can do is scedule events in Teams to get all invitees together in the same call.

For this type of 'open' video chat room then there is lots of choices including the room that we have created and support for 'open all day' for use. 

Click link here to join that open chatroom

This meeting invite and information could be added to a external shared calendar or your personal Teams calendar or just emailed to the members. You could also  just create a post in Teams telling users of the meeting and inviting people along etc.

The meeting invite could also include people who are currently not part of the Community and they could use a browser interface to attend to call and take part.

The invite code can be created from the calendar part of the application shown here.