TOW: Sharing a work space using Office 365 Groups

Tip of the WeekAssigned to a staff or faculty committee that needs to produce collaborative documents?

Tired of emailing competing versions of files back and forth?

One strategy is to start using the power of Microsoft’s Office 365 Groups. Groups creates a workspace where you can set up meetings for your committee using the Outlook calendar, monitor a shared discussion board, and perhaps most importantly, collaborate on shared documents in a browser. Groups can be public so that anyone can join, or private by invitation only. Invites can also be sent to non-Trinity collaborators at other institutions.

The Groups functionality is part of a suite of apps available through Microsoft Office 365. To login to Office 365 on the web, go to portal.office.com and enter in your Trinity username and password. Your username needs to be in the form of ‘scoped ID’: username@trincoll.edu, not your usual email address. After you hit Enter, this will take you to a Trinity login page, where you will enter your Trinity credentials, again using username@trincoll.edu.

The first step in using Groups is for the committee chair to create a Group. This can be done in multiple ways, but one of the easiest methods is to open Outlook, find your Groups, located at the bottom of your email folder listing in the left navigation pane, and then click on the plus sign (see image at right). Click on Next under ‘Standard Group’, and then fill out the group information. Assign the group a name, and designate if it will be public or private, and then click Create in the upper left. For a private group, just start typing names under ‘Add members,’ which will pull from the Trinity directory, and then click on Add in the upper left. For a public group, navigate to the group settings by clicking on the group name in the left navigation bar, and then click on the gear in the upper right. Select ‘Invite others’ to get a link to join the group, or compose an email invitation.

When accessed through Outlook, the main splash page for the group, as shown in the example to the left, shows the different functionality available to groups, including shared files, conversations and calendar events. One of the most useful features is the file repository. Click on Files to see the file listing for the group, and under ‘New,’ you can add a new Word, Excel or PowerPoint document.

 

To add folders and more file functionality, access the group through Office 365 OneDrive. OneDrive is available to all Trinity users, and gives you one terabyte of cloud-based storage and the ability to access your files from any device. To access OneDrive after you login to the Office portal, click on the dot grid in the upper left, next to the words Office 365. You will then see all the Office 365 apps (see right). Also, come to Information Services’s event on Thursday, June 14 (watch this site for details) to learn more about it!

 

In OneDrive, you will see your groups under the file listing in the left navigation pane. Clicking on the group name will take you to a document repository, where you can upload documents, download and sync documents, plus create folders and new documents for better file management (see left). When you select and open a document through OneDrive, it will allow you to edit the document, either in the browser, or with your desktop application. This allows group members to collaboratively write and edit documents, including the ability to add comments. You will see the link that controls how to edit the document in the upper right, as shown below.

 

 

 

 

Want a deeper dive into Office 365 Groups? Then check out these training videos from lynda.com, which are available free when using your trincoll credentials. If you are still having problems getting started, then contact the Help Desk at ext. 2100.

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