11 10 Strategies for Engaging Learners with Office 365 / OneDrive

10 Strategies for Engaging Learners with Office 365 / OneDrive

What is Office 365

Microsoft Office 365 is an online version of all your favorite office tools, such as Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. These apps are hosted in the cloud and can be accessed on any computer by signing onto your MavMail account and clicking on the button in the upper left-hand corner of your MavMail home page.  The following apps are currently available with the MNSU instance of Office 365: 


What is OneDrive?

OneDrive is an online storage (cloud) service from Microsoft in which you can have private folders and shared folders. You can share and collaborate with others and access these files from any device using MS Office 365 (part of OneDrive). All Faculty, Staff, and Students can upload a max of 20K items to their cloud storage.

How do I access OneDrive?

What are the features of OneDrive?

  • Every faculty, staff, and student get cloud storage for up to 20,000 items (no size limit) to use while they are an active employee or student on our campus.
  • This is the only MnSCU approved cloud storage site for private data (FERPA & HIPAA)
  • Works anywhere there is an Internet connection – across multiple devices
  • Has file sharing and collaboration features
  • Can use on mobile devices (with apps)

Where do I get help using OneDrive?

Strategy #1: Collaborative Writing Projects

The basics:  Students can use OneDrive to create group documents that they can edit in real-time.  Since the document is stored “on the cloud”, the most up-to-date version of the document is always available to all group members.  Group members can also control who can access, edit or view the document at any time.


Variations on the approach:  Online collaboration with written assignments is also useful for peer review and editing.  Students can share the document with the class or specific students who can view or edit, using the comment function.  Instructors can also view the document and the peer edits in real-time.

Strategy #2: Create a Shared Knowledge Base

The basics:  A wiki is a website that allows multiple users to add, modify, or delete content using rich-text editors or simplified markup language, allowing the users to co-construct papers, knowledge bases, or websites around a topic.  Students can use Class Notebook to create a class wiki.  The entire class, or a select group of students, can add their knowledge to the wiki on a given topic.  Wikis can be used as assessments, exam reviews, or class textbooks.


Variations on the approach:  Groups can use wikis as online portfolios for semester-long projects.  Students can archive their work, any reviews and edits, and final graded drafts on the wiki.  Instructors can access the wiki at the end of the semester to see the progression of work from individual students or groups.

Strategy #3: Create Mindmaps

The basics: Mindmaps are diagrams that visually connect information.  There are a variety of online tools that students can use to create mindmaps, but these can also be done in One Drive, using Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint.  Give students a topic, and ask them to create a mind map to brainstorm, create a process flow chart, or connect ideas.


Variations on the approach:  Ask students to create graphic organizers or infographics visually explaining a topic or concept.  Graphic organizers can be useful group projects and online collaboration tools allow students to add their parts of the assignment in real-time.

Strategy #4: Use Multimedia to Replace Traditional Assignments

The basics:  Students can use OneDrive to create and edit a PowerPoint presentation collaboratively.  Ask each group member to narrate a portion of the presentation by adding audio.


Variations on the approach:  Online collaboration tools allow students to store files on the cloud easily.  Students can upload portions of a video and use online collaboration tools to edit and publish a final product.   Sway is a good example of a unique multimedia presentation tool.

Strategy #6: Create your own class video channel

The basics: Use the Microsoft Office 365 Stream app to create a video channel with your class.  Share lecture videos if you are flipping your class, or use them as a video assignment dropbox for your students.


Variations on the approach: Ask students to create their own channels and use the video submissions as journals, discussion responses, or other multimedia assignments.

Strategy #7: Answer Student Questions Only Once, or Community-source Q&A

The basics:  As an instructor, you may find yourself answering the same question multiple times.  By using a shared document or class wiki with an app like Class Notebook, you can post the answer to any question you receive and share it with the entire class.  At the beginning of your class, train your students to refer to the document or wiki first before contacting you with a question. You can also create a culture in the class of insisting that students post their questions to the wiki rather than sending them directly to you, and providing extra credit for students who answer their peers’ questions.


Variations on the approach:  By sharing editing rights to a class document or wiki, students can answer questions for each other, creating a shared knowledge base and establishing students as peer experts on a given topic.

Strategy #8: Go Social

The basics: Add social media elements to your class using Flipgrid.  Students can post video discussion responses in a safe yet social environment.  Flipgrid makes it easy to create private groups that only you and your students can access.  Use Flipgrid’s unique video filters to add personality, encourage responses, or provide students a measure of privacy.


Variations on the approach: Use Flipgrid’s Shorts feature to record and embed short lectures (10 minutes or less) into D2L Brightspace.

Strategy #9: Increase Student Interaction in Large Classes

The basics:  Post a Muddiest Point exercise folder in OneDrive and ask students to add their responses after each class.  Post your responses to their questions in the shared document or folder for the entire class to see.  You can also encourage students to respond to each other in a peer teaching activity.


Variations on the approach:  Use Microsoft Excel online to create a survey or poll.  Student responses to the poll go directly to a spreadsheet for easy access.  You can use a link shortener to personalize your survey.  Use this to take a quick knowledge check, ask questions about a reading or video, jump-start discussions with data, or simply engage your students in the lesson.

Strategy #10: Encourage Your Students to “Go Green”

The basics:  Challenge your students to find new and creative ways to reduce paper usage in the classroom through online collaboration tools.  Ask them to document the tools and processes they use and add them to a course wiki or shared document or folder.


Variations on the approach:  Ask students to create a technology handbook for future classes.  Chronicle their successes and challenges with collaborative technology and ask them to document instructions, tips, and tricks such as using Airdrop on iPhones or iPads, using OneDrive to share items or other useful products that students used for your class.



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Maverick Learning and Educational Applied Research Nexus Copyright © 2021 by Minnesota State University, Mankato is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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