Collaborating in O365

I’m a bit of a self-confessed geek, I love trying new things particularly when those things are technology related. Sometimes I love them and stick with it – for example my Pebble Smart Watch, other times I ditch them – for example using my iPad for handwritten notes. I’ve never been one for persevering for too long, the change needs to be seamless for me to stick with it.

Since Glow moved to an O365 tenancy I’ve been tinkering with it to work out how it can make a difference in my classes. I’ve been using my OneDrive to replace a growing number of Pen Drives and OneNote to keep track of my various to-do lists.

I decided that it was time to introduce a class to O365 and see how easily they took to the web-based Office Suite (our school is still using Office 2007 so it doesn’t tie into O365 yet). As part of our S1 ICT course we complete a research task called African Adventures where the pupils research a country in Africa and complete a group presentation. Traditionally we’ve used PowerPoint 2007 and each group member has independently complete 2 or 3 slides before e-mailing them to the group leader who was tasked with collating them and adding transitions etc. The downfall of this method is that the various pupils always overlapped on some of their slides leading to duplicate information and when the group leader was collating the final presentation the rest of the group was left twiddling their thumbs (or most likely playing games online!). There had to be a better way to do this…

Thankfully I’ve previously mail-merged the usernames and passwords to all of our pupils so that they could take advantage of the Microsoft Student Advantage program, so everyone was able to log into Glow with very little hassle. Next was how to get into O365, create a presentation and share it with the others in their group which again was very simple. The only issue that we encountered was a delay in shared presentations appearing in the Shared with me section of OneDrive. I later discovered that a link is e-mailed to all contributers almost instantly so I’ll be showing my classes how to use this method in future.

I was impressed at how quickly the pupils took to using O365 and how my workflow changed throughout the project. Around 2 weeks into the unit of work I had to attend an SQA Understanding Standards event so the night before I logged into each of their presentations and added comments to give them tips on how they could be improved.

During their ICT period the class logged into O365 and began working before the cover teacher even arrived, and at the end of the SQA course I was able to log in and check on the work that had been completed.

From the pupils’ point of view they were able to easily work on their presentations outwith the class during their free time in a way that wasn’t possible before. Several of the group arrange to ‘Meet Up’ online to work on their presentations and gave each other advice using the comments section of the presentation.

The resulting presentations were invaluable when it came to assessing each of the pupils. I was able to look at the presentations as they developed rather than just seeing the finished product. Through version history and comments I was able see which group members contributed to the presentation most and crucially for me, through the comments I was able to offer discrete, targeted support to the pupils who needed it most.

Following on from my trial with this class, I’m planning to introduce O365 to all of my own classes in session 2015-2016 and we’re planning to trial the same project again with every S1 class in faculty.