Which Office 365 Tools can be used to support classroom engagement?

In 2016, Western migrated to the Office 365 platform. With that migration came access to a suite of tools, not just email, many of which can be utilized in the classroom. Office 365 offers the benefit of being an Institutionally sanctioned tool. It has been through Western’s security audits and technical evaluations. It also offers Western account holders single sign-on to the suite of tools available.

To access your Office 365 account, sign in to Western’s My Office log-in page (http://myoffice.uwo.ca), or download the Office 365 Desktop App.

Here’s a list of the top tools for classroom engagement:


What is it?

OneDrive is a cloud file-hosting service that allows you to store files, access and edit them from any web-enabled device. Folders are private but can be shared between accounts for team access to resources.

How can it support classroom engagement?

Share your course materials with students through folders dedicated to the course. Set up folders for group projects or recommend students make use of OneDrive for sharing documents with peers. Use course folders as a place where students can share draft versions of their assignments with you for feedback, before they submit through formal avenues such as OWL Assignments.


What is it?

“Microsoft OneNote is a computer program for free-form information gathering and multi-user collaboration. It gathers users’ notes (handwritten or typed), drawings, screen clippings and audio commentaries.” (Wikipedia, 2018). OneNote can be used to set up a Class Notebook that is accessible to a class roster and is set up with three sub-notebooks:

  • student notebooks (private notebooks shared between students and instructor)
  • Content library (a notebook for teachers to share course materials with students)
  • Collaboration space (a notebook for all students and the instructor to share, organize, and collaborate)

How can it support classroom engagement?

Set up a Class Notebook for your course to take advantage of the three sub-notebooks described above. Share your course materials through the Content library. Provide feedback on students work through student notebooks. Host student assignments through student notebooks, with potential for reflections on learning, developing mindmaps, submitting review questions, and so on. Finally, the collaboration space could support group work or serve as an online space for conversation between classmates. It could be used as a back channel or place to share open notes.

Beyond courses, Class Notebooks could be set up for labs. For example, graduate students could share progress and receive feedback on their work through a student notebook. Shared lab notes, schedules, and activities could be developed through the collaboration space. Lab resources and supervisor notes could be distributed through the content library.


What is it?

Sway is a presentation platform that can be used to create presentations, reports, stories, and more. While similar to other presentation platforms like PowerPoint or Prezi, it offers flexible and unique layouts for a different look and feel than others. See an example Sway here

How can it support classroom engagement?

Sway could supplement or replace commonly used presentation software like PowerPoint or Prezi for supplementing lectures and presentations. Given it’s interactive features, Sway could used to create self-directed modules or tutorials for blended or supplementary course material. If students have a presentation to do, they could use Sway themselves. Alternatively, it could be used for creative assignments like a blog, portfolio, or journal. 

Word, PowerPoint, and Excel Online

What are they?

Imagine the same functions of Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, but enhanced with internet connectivity. Access and your Office files through OneDrive then edit and save them through the web browser rather than a local copy that would need to be uploaded. Online versions also allow you to collaborate on documents in realtime, as changes are automatically saved (similar to Google Drive – Docs, Sheets, and Slides – but through Microsoft products).

How can they support classroom engagement?

There are two possible benefits to using Word, PowerPoint, and Excel online. First, access your own materials from anywhere through OneDrive with the added flexibility of being able to make edits on the fly. Second, use the Office online suite to collaborate with others – develop PowerPoint slides for a team presentation, collaboratively edit a manuscript, input and analyze data through one shared document.

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