Digital Communication with students

The list below provides suggestions on establishing lines of communication with and between your students.


Minerva is the University of Leeds’ Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) and is the main tool for you to use and the best route of communication with students. Sending emails to students via Minerva modules is more reliable than if you email students directly as they are guaranteed to be delivered.

Email on the web

You can access your University emails online via Office365 if you don’t have access to your desktop. Simply sign in with your University account ( The IT website provides guidance on using Outlook via the web.


Microsoft Office 365 is available to all staff and students at Leeds. As well as  Microsoft Outlook, you can access other Microsoft products such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

Office 365 gives you access to 5 terabytes of storage space on OneDrive. It is a good way to share files with students as it can be accessed from most devices with web access (including phones, tablets and computers) and you can also get your students to work on files collaboratively. The IT website provides more information about using Office 365.

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams helps you collaborate with colleagues and students on and off-campus. It is available to all staff and students at Leeds and enables messaging, calls, video meetings and file sharing.

There are three main features within teams to help you manage your teaching and work with colleagues.

1. Chat

Chat provides direct messaging (for groups or one-to-one messages) in a similar way to WhatsApp.

2. Calls

Calls allow you to conduct an online meeting in a similar way to Skype, FaceTime or Zoom. You can host group or one-to-one calls, share your computer screen and record your session. It’s suitable for:

  • synchronous session to present content or discuss topics
  • tutorials
  • individual feedback.

3. Teams

The shared space allows collaborative working in a similar way to OneDrive or GoogleDocs. You can share files and organise groups or projects by setting up separate streams or channels. It’s suitable for:

  • creating a class cohort
  • group and project working
  • storing and organising files and documentation
  • sharing and collaborating on documents.

You don’t need to set up a team before you can use Teams. Everyone can use the basic chat and calls functionality from the outset. The team functionality is best used for organising your classes and groups.

You can access Microsoft Teams from the Office 365 portal or from the Microsoft Teams app which can be installed on almost any device via the software centre.

Guidance documents from the DES

In addition, watch a Microsoft video introducing Teams

It is possible to add live captions for Teams meetings to make your meeting more inclusive. You can find out more about captions for online learning on the digital accessibility website.


Yammer is a social networking tool used by the University. You can discuss ideas and share updates with colleagues. It is based around groups, or communities of practice, which anyone in the University can create.

It tends to be used informally, for quite large groups, and people may not read Yammer posts every day.

Read the What is Yammer? Article on the IT Knowledge Base for more information about Yammer.