Using Microsoft Teams as an LMS: A Free LMS Option for Microsoft 365 Users

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Chris Ott, Sojo University, Japan

Microsoft Teams can be used as a learning management system (LMS), but the application is not considered an LMS nor is it marketed as one. It is a collaboration app that is designed to keep people connected, and its core functions do not offer the features that educators expect of an LMS. Moreover, literature about using Teams as an LMS that is available online is limited. However, with some workarounds and if used in conjunction with other online learning resources and digital content creation tools, Teams can be manipulated to act like an LMS and be implemented in a language course.

Why Use Microsoft Teams as an LMS?

Pricing is a factor that institutions and educators consider when deciding on an LMS to use. Using Teams as an LMS is an economical option for institutions that provide Microsoft 365 accounts to their educators and students and for educators that are looking for an alternative and more cost-effective LMS.

How to Use Teams as an LMS

To use Teams as an LMS, it is necessary to be familiar with both Microsoft Teams and Microsoft OneNote. For anyone unfamiliar with Teams and how to create a team in the app, information can be found online (Microsoft Teams, n.d.). There are also websites with information about how to set up a OneNote Class Notebook and link it to Teams (Microsoft Education for Teams, n.d.). For those with little experience using Teams and OneNote, to make the following section of this article a little easier to follow, it is important to understand one of the ways in which the two apps integrate. Microsoft Teams and Microsoft OneNote are separate apps. However, when you create a Class Notebook within Teams, you are creating a OneNote Class Notebook. After a OneNote Class Notebook has been created in Teams, it can be accessed and modified in either of the apps, and changes made to a notebook in one app will be reflected in the other app. The OneNote app has more features, so after creation and initial set up of a Class Notebook in Teams, teachers should edit the notebook in the OneNote app rather than the Teams app. Students, however, need only to interact with class notebooks through Teams.

Making a Course Homepage

The course homepage is an essential element of an LMS, as it is where students get information about lessons and access to learning materials and activities. Microsoft Teams, however, does not have a course homepage. As of 2022, Teams does have a “home page,” but functionality is limited (Microsoft Education Team, 2022). However, there is a workaround to this issue, and that is to use a OneNote Class Notebook as the course homepage. To illustrate how this is done, I will explain how I used a OneNote notebook in Teams as the course homepage for an English Communication class that I taught.

First, I created a team for my class in Teams, added the class’s students to the team using the students’ Microsoft 365 email addresses, set up a class OneNote class notebook, and then I took the following steps to set up the course homepage:

In the Teacher Only section of the notebook, I created 30 pages, one for each class of the semester. In each page, I created a table containing the materials and activities to be used in each of the classes (see Figure 1). Note that the Teacher Only section does not appear in the student view.

Before the start of a class, I copied the class’s page from the Teacher Only section into the Content Library section. Students can access pages in the Content Library pages, but they cannot edit them.

In this way, it is possible for a teacher to plan out the whole semester in the Teacher Only section, and then make classes visible to students, when necessary, by copying them into the Content Library section, and it becomes the course homepage for students.

How Students Access the Course Homepage

Figure 2 is a screenshot of what my course homepage looks like to students. The screenshot is of a (dummy) student that has accessed Week 5’s face-to-face class. Using Figure 2 as a reference, I will explain the steps that a student would take to access the page, with each step progressing from the left side of the image to the right side:

  • Sign into the Teams app. (I recommend students use the web version of the app over the desktop version of the app because there seem to be fewer syncing issues when using the web version.)
  • On the far-left side of the Teams window, click the Teams tab, which is highlighted in Figure 2. Though not visible here, a list of the student’s teams would appear, and they would click on their English class’s team, in this case the team titled CIS EC3 2022.
  • Click on Class Notebook.
  • Click on the icon of the three vertical books that is located above the magnifying glass icon. This step is important because clicking on the icon is what opens the OneNote Class Notebook within Teams.
  • Click on Content Library.
  • Click on the Face-to-Face Classes section.
  • Click on the page titled Week 5 F2F (5/20)

Having taken these steps, my students will see, on the right-hand side, a general breakdown of Week 5’s class and what activities they will be doing, along with links for any external resources they will use. Though students need to do a fair bit of clicking to access a class page, the procedure is straightforward, and students get used to it quickly.

Using External Online Assignment Creation Tools

Microsoft Teams has few built-in assignment creation tools. The two primary options are Microsoft Forms quizzes, and Class Notebook pages in students’ private sections, which are essentially Word documents that students can edit. This is a limited selection of activity types, especially when compared to an LMS such as Moodle. One solution to this issue is to use an external learning platform that integrates with Teams. In my course, I used Bookwidgets.

BookWidgets is an online platform for creating interactive educational content. The service offers a wide range of digital exercises, such as interactive quizzes, games, worksheets, and more. Figure 3 represents just a fraction of the available activity types. BookWidgets can be integrated with Teams (BookWidgets, 2022), and after activating integration, activities created in BookWidgets can be assigned to students in Teams, and grades for the activities will feed into Teams’ gradebook. To activate integration, the administrator of Microsoft 365 at your institution must grant permission. BookWidgets pricing is very reasonable: I pay 49 USD a year, and the number of student users is unlimited.

Benefits of Teams as an LMS

In addition to Teams being a free LMS option, it offers several other benefits. It has an easy to use and visible notification system. Students receive a hard-to-miss notification in the Activity section of Teams when teachers post announcements to the team, when an assignment has been assigned, and when work has been graded and returned. Also, the evaluation and feedback feature in Teams is transparent and user friendly. Students can easily access assignment grades, view teacher feedback, and even respond to teacher feedback.

Drawbacks of Teams as an LMS

There are several drawbacks to using Teams as an LMS. In Japan, student names appear in kanji in a team, and there is no way to edit the names to display in the Roman alphabet. A sorting feature is not offered to allow the ordering of names in the members name list to be changed. Two other issues are that Teams does not have an attendance module and that the gradebook is extremely basic and cannot be edited. A solution to the attendance and gradebook issues is to use an external platform. Additio in one such platform that has both attendance and gradebook features, and has integration with Teams (Martin, 2022). The administrator of Microsoft 365 at your institution must grant permission for Additio integration with Teams to be possible.


Teams is a viable LMS option, and it is free for Microsoft 365 users. Teams is not as robust as an LMS such as Moodle, but with the homepage workaround and external tools, a class can be successfully managed using it. Despite the almost complete lack of information and literature about using Teams as an LMS, you can be assured that it works quite well.


Kidimedia (2022, March 2). Setting up BookWidgets in Microsoft Teams. BookWidgets.

Martin, J. K. (2022). Simplifying your grading, planning, and classroom management using Additio. The Language Teacher, 46(6), 48–52.

Microsoft Education Team (2022, August 23). New Teams features help improve your classroom’s well-being. Microsoft.

Microsoft Teams. (n.d.). Create a team from scratch. Microsoft.

Microsoft Teams for Education. (n.d.). Use OneNote Class Notebook in Teams. Microsoft.