Cool ideas to get started with Office 365 in your classroom

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Guest post by Trent Ray, Microsoft Teacher Ambassador and Expert Educator!

Anytime, anywhere access to resources and tools for learning is an essential element for today’s online learning environments. Thanks to the cloud (and some clever technical engineers) digital tools are enabling seamless connections between teachers and learners and transforming the what, when, how and where we work. In this post, I will share some of the productivity elements of Office 365 classroom that have helped make my teaching life easier!

Collaborate with Word Online

We have all lost track of file versions and are probably very familiar with the following “Activity1_V2_Draft_Final.doc” scenario. Word Online allows you to create and collaborate in real time within the Word Web App without losing your formatting (or having to press ‘save’). You can start a Word Document straight from your OneDrive and share them with people in your organisation.

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Collaborative Group Tasks: The ability for unlimited users to collaborate on one Word Document provides the ideal space for groups of students or project teams to develop ideas and share research. Students work on ONE document in the cloud so there even if one student is away – the others can continue accessing the learning.

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Drafting and feedback: Before students submit their final essay, practical report or project students can share their Word directly from their OneDrive. Rather than receiving a duplicate copy as an attachment, receive a share link from the students OneDrive. Using ‘comments’ in Word Online you can add your feedback and within moments your students can see it.

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Fun Feature: When using Word Online you can easily switch to the full desktop version is as simple as clicking ‘Work in Word Offline’. This gives you the full Word experience without losing your formatting.

Microsoft Forms

Microsoft Forms is the newest service now available in Office 365 and allows any user to easily create survey’s and self-marking quizzes with instant student feedback.

Microsoft Forms can be shared with students, colleagues and even parents by providing a website URL or QR code. The best part is all of the results generate straight into Excel which makes sharing, reviewing and evaluating the data you collect super seamless!

Exit Tickets or Lesson Reflection/Feedback – Capture what your students have gained from the day’s lesson. Ask questions such as did we meet today’s learning objectives, what are you still working to understand and what would you like to learn (or need to learn) next?


Fun Feature: Paste the Microsoft Forms URL into a page in OneNote and you will see that it has automatically embedded straight onto the page. This means students can complete a quiz without leaving OneNote!

Projects and Presentations with Sway

The newbie in town, Sway is currently Microsoft’s ‘Cool tool for School’ changing the way we create and curate information online. Sway enables you to create snazzy single page websites that do just that – ‘sway’. With simple drag and drop ‘cards’ (aka elements) you can build a professional and engaging resources in minutes.

Classroom Application: Sway has so many great uses, from collaborating on team projects, curating lesson resources, creating a class newsletter for parents to access or individual uses such as blog or story telling platform.

Fun feature: Not many people know that you can have co-authors in Sway, which means when working on team projects you can have up to 10 people adding information, media, embedding videos and even excel spreadsheets!

Here is cool sway created by students: Owl Pallet Dissection Report – Year 7 Biology



Staying organised with Outlook Tasks

One of the biggest bug bares for teachers is staying on track with homework, task due dates and even small items like ‘return the field trip permission slip’. Tasks are a severely underutilised feature of Outlook that can help you and your students stay on top of your activities, tasks and to-dos!

Classroom Application – At the end of every class I always review the to-dos before next session such as up-coming due dates, things to prepare for next class etc. I simply ask students to open Outlook, click on ‘Tasks’ and create a new item. This allows them to create an task that can be tracked. If a due date is set it will add it to their calendar and even provide options to set reminders and track progress.

Fun fact – you can even create coloured personalised categories – such as subjects or task types.

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OneNote Class Notebooks

OneNote Class Notebooks have become my one stop curriculum shop. With a completely flexible canvas to create curriculum including embedded online videos, images, hand writing, any existing documents I can now quickly and easily share collaborative digital class notebooks with my students.

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Classroom Application: With a Content Library for read only resources my students can access learning and copy these tasks/resources into their Student Section which is private to them (and me as their teacher). OneNote Class Notebooks also have a Collaborative Section which is a perfect space for students to share work, peer assess, collaborate on team projects.

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Fun Fact: OneNote 2016 can now embed online videos including Office Mix, Vimeo and YouTube!

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