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Use Teams for schoolwork when bandwidth is low

Low bandwidth capacity can hamper the connection in Teams between educators and students when you're working remotely from one another. This article provides different ways to minimize your bandwidth use. 

The term bandwidth refers to how much data can be transferred over an Internet connection every second.

Avoiding or minimizing use of live video is the best way to cut down on excessive use of bandwidth. If you have recorded video or audio to share, upload it to OneDrive or Microsoft Stream and share a link to that file, rather than embedding the large file itself in an assignment or notebook. Read on for more details. 

Ways to save bandwidth in Teams

Limit video in live class sessions

During live class sessions, turn off video cameras entirely, if possible. Alternatively, only use cameras at the beginning of the session to greet each other, or if you are speaking. 

When sharing a visual during a class meeting, share the document only, rather than your entire desktop. 

Use pre-recorded content instead live class sessions

Rather than presenting content to students live, record a lesson as a video and store it on Microsoft Stream. Send students a link to the video to watch on their own time. The students can then watch the video online instead of having to download a large video file to their computer. 

This amounts to a flipped classroom approach. Send a Stream recording of your lesson ahead of time with background material as homework, then use class time to complete assignments. Create channels for student groups to collaborate on assignments. Students can ask questions via chat as they work on assignments.

Stream is part of your Microsoft 365 Education subscription and it's available when you sign into the Microsoft 365 portal. It's a secure video service where you can upload videos to share with your students. 

If you create your lesson in PowerPoint, it's easy to record a video of the lesson and upload it to Stream. See these articles for detailed instructions:

Of course, you can create a video by another means, and then upload it to Stream:

Manually upload a video to Stream

  1. Sign into the Microsoft 365 portal.

  2. Select the App Launcher  App launcher button at the top left.

  3. If Stream is listed, select it. Otherwise, select All AppsStream.

    The Stream button in Office 365.

  4. On the bar across the top, select Create Upload video.

  5. Select Browse and navigate to the video file you want to upload.

For more details, see Upload a video.

Keep assignments in Teams smaller by not attaching media files

Reduce the number of assignments that require students to attach very large files, such as videos. When you do assign work that requires large files like videos, instruct students to upload them to Stream rather than attaching them to their assignments.

Work offline in the Class Notebook

Educators, we recommend that you plan lessons and develop assignments in OneNote while you're offline, and then go online or use Teams to distribute them.

Note: Operations such as Page Distribution and Review Student Work require you to be online.

Here are some other ideas for minimizing bandwidth when working in a Class Notebook:

  • Avoid attaching large files in Class Notebooks that are distributed to all students. It works better to link to a large file stored in your OneDrive or Teams or Stream, rather than distributing a large attachment to all of the students.

  • The Files tab for every team has a Class Materials folder that works well for sharing a read-only document with students.

  • Remember that audio and video files can become very large. When you leave audio feedback, try to keep it brief.  With OneNote 2016, we recommend not inserting a video, which could take large amounts of bandwidth and syncing. Instead, upload the video to Microsoft Stream and link to it from OneNote.

What students can do to save bandwidth

Use the video camera sparingly, or not at all

When participating in a live class meeting, use your video cameras sparingly or avoid using them entirely and use microphones instead. 

Sync files to your computer so you can read them offline

  1. In Teams, select the team whose files you want to sync.

  2. Select Files.

  3. Select Sync and follow the on-screen prompts.


    By default, all files are available in the cloud, but not copied to your computer.

  4. Open File Explorer. In the left pane, navigate to your school's name and select it to expand it. Underneath will be the folder where the sync'd local files are stored on your computer. 

  5. Select any files you want to access offline (that is, on your computer). Press and hold the Ctrl key while selecting multiple files.

  6. Right-click your selection and choose Always keep on this device.

Sync files to your mobile device so you can read them offline

When you open a file in Teams on your mobile device, you can download it to your device so that can open it again later when you're offline:

  1. With the file open in Teams mobile, tap More options  More.

  2. From the dropdown menu, select Make available offline  The file-download button in Teams.

Sync video files to your mobile device so you can watch them offline

If you have limited internet connectivity, the Offline feature in the Stream mobile app can be handy for watching videos:

  1. First, install the Microsoft Stream mobile app (from the App Store or Google Play) on your device.

  2. Sign in with your Microsoft 365 account.

  3. Select the Stream link your educator provided, and the video will open in the Stream app.

  4. Once the video is loaded in the app, pause it and tap the download  The file-download button in Teams. icon below the video player.

  5. After the video has downloaded, tap the play button immediately for normal-speed playback, or find the video later under My Content > Offline.

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