Using Office 365 Documents
Benefits of Office 365
Distance learning is a
fantastic way to study, it is flexible and adaptable, but it can sometimes be
lonely, and you might feel isolated. Working with other students in the same
position and with a range of views and ideas is a great way to beat this and at
the same time develop specific digital skills in remote team working.
To help with this the
OU has provided all students with a Microsoft Office 365 account (education
edition) and access to the secure system where documents can be shared without
sharing personal information (you only use your name and given OU Email
You do not need to
request the Office 365 account, it is already there. It is activated by you
resetting your main OU password on Student Home.
For details on how to
access Office 365 for the first time have a look at my other Blog at: https://learn1.open.ac.uk/mod/oublog/viewpost.php?post=217339
This Blog is about what
to do when you get there.
First log into office
at www.office.com/portal (you might
need to sign out of any work account for Office 365 at this point)
Sign in using your OU
Email address (OUCU@ou.ac.uk for students
and OUCU@open.ac.uk for staff) and your
usual OU Password.
Then you get access to
Once signed in you can
access upload items to your online storage, start new documents or use any
links you are sent by way of invites or message forums.
Using Documents Simultaneously
First let me emphasise
patience. The documents are being saved in real time and multiple people adding
items, particularly images. to the documents uses processing power. Don’t get
‘click happy’ allow time for your changes to appear, there is a slight lag when
multiple people are working together.
When you are in the
document you will be able to see if anyone else is also reading or editing the
document at the same time.
Because you are logged
into the OU Office 365 the system recognises you but only uses your OU Email
address, no other personal information.
At the top of the
screen you get a notification of whether or not other people are working on the
document, you can click on the drop down menu to see a
Each of the office programmes
shows multiple users in different ways appropriate to the programme.
Here are examples of
what this looks like in the three main programs.
You can see which slides
other people are on by the little coloured flag icon, hovering over the flag
gives you the person’s name as registered with their account. You also see he
flag shown on the specific element on the slide the person is working on.
In WORD you see the
individuals name and flag at the point the cursor is resting at in the
In Excel, you can see
the cell or cells the other individuals have clicked on.
The online versions of
the programmes are really useful, but are slightly limited in functionality and
you cannot do everything in the online version of the programmes that you can
do in the desktop versions (by the way your OU Office 365 account lets you download the desktop
versions of the software to use offline as well).
The shared documents
give you the option to edit them in the offline (desktop) versions of the
programmes. This is useful if you want to use the more advanced features. There
is an ‘autosave’ feature which automatically saves your edits to the shared
version. However this should be only used sparingly.
Multiple people editing
the same document offline simultaneously can have strange results and other
users can be locked out of the document during editing.
If you created the file
or have access to the folder the file sits in, then you can easily see who has
read it and who has edited it.
Select the file and
click ‘Version History’ this tells you who has edited the document and when.
You can also download a previous version of the document.
Similarly you can select the file and hover the mouse over
the document to see how many times it has been read and the viewers names.
A word of caution
When working with
colleagues in a face to face session, you can discuss changes and alterations
to your groups’ outputs. It very rarely leads to major arguments because you
are present and able to see what is happening.
When working on shared
documents remotely you do not get the same level of instant feedback and
understanding of the situation. This can lead to individuals feeling annoyed or
We definitely want you
to develop and modify one another’s work but to do it in a way in which you are
considering the reaction of your colleagues.
Do they know what you
have changed and why, or have they just seen two hours of their work deleted
with no explanation? Communication is key, live classroom sessions work well
alongside this where you can discuss the alterations or perhaps a message with
a summary of the changes made and why.
Conversely, if someone
has altered your contribution and you are not sure why, don’t immediately
become defensive. Find out the reasons for the change and discuss it. You will
not always find you agree but agreeing to disagree is better than taking offence.
All you need now is
something to say and a group to say it with.
If you wanted to try a
shared document then here is a link to a PowerPoint
I created for you to play with. It is available only to members of the OU
(staff or students) there are lots of places in the presentation where you can
comment or add something to the presentation.
Go ahead, have a go.