Collaborating with Office 365: OneDrive

As more and more educational spaces get access to Office 365, we are all looking for guidelines and easy ideas for use in our classrooms. Over the next couple of weeks we will highlight the top tips for getting your Office 365 world humming along with ease.

In this blog post you will learn to create, upload, sync and share Word, Excel, OneNote and PowerPoint documents with either students or your peers.

In OneDrive (part of Office 365) you can easily create documents that you might use for:

  • Collaborative writing and note taking
  • Peer and Teacher led feedback
  • Working with teams and committees
  • Working in your faculty

OneDrive is the document storage area of Office 365. A place to keep your documents to tap into wherever you are, and a place to create collaborative workflows for your classroom and workspace. You’ll find OneDrive by clicking on the OneDrive option in the top right hand side of your Office 365 environment.


Click on OneDrive, then New and choose from Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Excel Survey or a New folder.

Once you have created your document, change the name by clicking on the ‘Document 1’ heading in the top black strip bar of your browser and typing in the file name you need.

You can now edit in the browser.

The interface you will see is just like the Microsoft Office Word you are used to using, minus a few technical bits and pieces.


Just say you want a group of students to work together on this document, you want to keep an eye on student work for feedback or you want to plan with another teacher(s), then you will want to share the document with them.

Click on ‘file’ in the top left, then ‘share.’ Now choose if you want to share the document with someone via email or via a weblink.

Which do I use? Good question. You might use the weblink when the document is hyperlinked in another document you are creating, for sharing with people outside your Office 365 platform, or for linking from a website. Sharing the document via email might be appropriate when working with a small group of people, or specific circle of peers.

Once you have decided the method of sharing, if using the email option add the names of people you are sharing with. By typing in their names, the system should find the people and add a line under that name once found. Add a simple message for your email if you like.

Next choose the editing rights of collaborators. What’s the difference? Another good question. Read Only / Comments open – hyperlinks will open and they can comment on the document inline with text. This is great for feedback when you do not want formatting or text changed.  Full Edit – anyone with this link or email will be able to edit and work together anywhere on the document.  This is great when working on a document together. When opening a document up for collaborative editing, it is good to regard the document as ‘everyone’s document’ and understand that the words on the document are not owned by anyone, and thus changes will be made. This is quite different to ‘Tracking Changes’ in a regular offline work document. It’s a wonderful way to work.

Once you have chosen edit rights, now tick or untick the ‘require sign in’ box. For younger learners and those new to ICT, unticking the box is a great way to get them into the document without any login needed. Keep the box ticked for maximum security.


 If you have chosen just to share the link, then choose ‘Get a Link’ and enable the edit or view only choice that best suits your needs.

The ‘Shared with’ will let you know who was given access via email invite to this document. 

You can always come back in here and remove, change edit rights, or add others to this document.

 NB – Click on the little Mobile Phone icon to create QR Code for your document. This is great for sharing with mobile users. 


Sometimes you might want to share a document that you have already created in ‘offline’ or regular Microsoft Office Word. Using Office 365, this is a very easy process.

Firstly locate the document you want to use on your computer.

Click on ‘Upload’ in the documents area and follow the prompts to browse for your file. Alternatively you can just ‘drag and drop’ the file from your explorer folder into the documents area of Office 365.


To edit an earlier document, or one just uploaded, locate the file in your Documents area, then click on the name of the file.

The document will open in your browser. From here you can choose ‘edit document’ then choose from ‘Edit in Word Online’ and ‘Edit in Word’. What’s the difference? Easy, ‘Edit in Word Online’ is great for when you want instant collaboration, are mobile, or don’t have access to the full version of Office, and ‘Edit in Word’ is for documents you are working on alone or need the full operational potential of Office. ‘Edit in Word’ opens the document in full office, but still saves up into Office 365. Syncing of an offline doc is not as instant as an online doc, so if you have a group of students or peers working simultaneously, choose ‘edit in browser’.

NB – The process described above is the same for Word, Excel, OneNote and PowerPoint.

Now that you are ready to collaborate in Office 365, what will you collaborate on first?


A note from the Champions: There are many ways to complete this workflow in Office 365. There is no wrong or right, only the way that suits you best.