Tag Archives: cloud computing

Setting Group Policies to Work with SkyDrive

Are your students unable to print or download files from SkyDrive at your school? Ask your system administrator to adjust your group policy settings by adding several URLs as a trusted source.

Please note, these instructions are written for Server 2003 (Yes, I know that’s OLD). If you have a newer server the instructions might be somewhat different, however the URLs will be the same.


You can open your Active Directory Users and Computers’ control panel by navigating to it on your Start menu by going to Program Files > Administrative Tools > Active Directory Users and Computers.

That will open a console that looks something like this:


If you want the policy to apply to your entire domain, right click at the top of the console. The domain is specified by an icon of three computers. If you want to apply the policy to another group or organizational unit right click on that instead.

Choose Properties from the context menu and then you will see the screen below:


Click on the Group Policy tab and then click the Open button. This is called the Group Policy Management tool. The organizational unit you previously selected will already be highlighted.

Right click on it and choose Create and Link a GPO Here

group management policy

That will take you to the place where you can name the policy. Name it something that will make it easily identifiable. Then click OK.

trusted sites

You have just created your policy. Now you need to define the settings that you want to trickle down to your clients. Locate your policy in the right pane and right click on it. Choose Edit to get started.


Now you need to drill down to the settings that you want to set. In the left pane, click the + sign to expand each group as follows: Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Internet Explorer > Internet Control Panel > Security Page and then double click Site to Zone Assignment List in the right pane as you can see below.

zone assignment

After you double click on Site to Zone Assignment List you will see a window to enable the settings and configure it. Click enabled. Then click Show. On the Show Contents screen, click Add. By clicking add, you add URLs and specify what zone you want them to be placed in. You can also add wildcards to factor in variations of the URL.

Add the following URLs (one at a time) to allow your students to be able to view their SkyDrive documents as a PDF file, print the PDF, and download the Word file to their computer.

https://*.livefilestore.com/storageservice/passport/auth.aspx/* (this address uses wildcards * to include multiple portions of the url) (NOTE: This URL allows a file to be downloaded)

https://d.docs.live.net (NOTE: This URL allows a file to be downloaded)

https://word-view.officeapps.live.com/wv/WordViewer/request.pdf (NOTE: This URL permits printing)

add item

The number 2 denotes the number of the zone. In this case it is the trusted zone. Microsoft breaks down the settings as follows:

  1. Intranet zone – sites on your local network.
  2. Trusted Sites zone – sites that have been added to your trusted sites.
  3. Internet zone – sites that are on the Internet.
  4. Restricted Sites zone – sites that have been specifically added to your restricted sites.

After clicking OK you can wait for the 15 minute default refresh of Group Policy or you can run gpupdate.exe from the Run command on any workstation to see if it worked. Optionally you can also restart the workstations to force the update.

Your students will receive a series of prompts when they log into Skydrive and open a file. They must click Yes to be able to print and download.

OneDrive and Digital Partnering

Use OneDrive to have students collaborate. Instead of traditional pair groups, where students sit together in the same physical space, use OneDrive to engage in digital partnering.

What Is Digital Partnering?

Digital partnering is a pair group that uses technology to share ideas and work together.

Collaboration Can be Simple Using OneDrive

screen shot of comments pane in OneDrive

Click to see sample comment.

Collaboration doesn’t have to be time consuming. If fact, it can be as simple as sharing ideas.

OneDrive allows teachers to post student work to a Group. Members can view and comment upon work within the Group. This provides an excellent opportunity for digital partnering.

For example, consider the activity we completed today. I posted all the students’ amusement park maps created using Microsoft Word into a Group folder.

Students acted as business consultants. They were divided into partners. Each student logged into their OneDrive account to view their partner’s amusement park map. They examined the current attractions on the map. Using the Comments system they suggested five new attractions that would make the park even better.

In the following class, students will view their own map to read their partner’s suggestions. They will then combine the suggestions with their own ideas to generate a list of possible new attractions for their park. This list of new attractions will be used to create a survey. Survey data will be organized in Excel and graphed. The graph will be analyzed to select a new amusement park ride.

Seven Benefits to Digital Partnering

There are several advantages to students working in pair groups digitally:

  1. Time to Think: Not everyone can generate ideas quickly. Some people need more time to think. Digital partnering allows a student the opportunity to work at their own pace to process information and develop a solution, without the pressure of their partner sitting beside them waiting for input.
  2. Efficient: Work can begin immediately. There is no need to move around the room and adjust seating, which can create a commotion and can be time consuming.
  3. Focus on Task: Students can focus their attention on the task without the distraction of their partner. Chatter about unrelated topics is eliminated.
  4. Increase Student Involvement: There is no coasting or allowing your friend to do all the work when engaged in digital partnering. Since each student is responsible for generating ideas and posting them to the Comments pane, they must participate.
  5. Spark Inspiration: Often when students hand in their work they think it is done and they never have to look at it again. However, by having a partner comment upon the work it can inspire students to look at their work in a new way. As students gain a fresh perspective this can spark even more ideas for how to improve.
  6. Equal Opportunity: Outgoing? Shy? The personality of the student does not matter. When students work together face to face, often the shy student may not contribute as much to the conversation. Not because they do not have the ideas, but because they are overpowered by the ideas flowing from their outgoing partner. Digital partnering gives everyone equal opportunity to share ideas.
  7. More Receptive to Feedback: Too often suggestions for ways to improve can be taken personally, especially in face-to-face interactions. A person may become offended and want to defend their work in front of a peer. Technology creates a comfortable distance between people. This allows each student to focus on the ideas presented not on “saving face”.

Commenting, Idea Generation, and Digital Partnering

Commenting is a skill that takes time to develop. Often students are not familiar with how to provide feedback to peers. Sharing ideas, through a commenting activity, provides a focused, meaningful way to help students practice this skill effectively. It also prevents students from posting hurtful criticism or vague feedback such as good job on their classmate’s work because they have specific task they must complete.

Over the next few months, the Grade 7 class is going to continue to use OneDrive to collaborate. We are building towards success by engaging in simple tasks. In the previous class, students viewed fellow classmates’ amusement park maps and posted one thing they really liked about the park. Today we expanded the complexity of the task to use Comments in a new way.

To prepare students for the task, we reviewed an amusement park map together. On the overhead projector was a sample map. Students were asked to provide suggestions on attractions that are missing from the amusement park that visitors may enjoy. I modeled how to add a comment and post the ideas. Once familiar with the activity, students were partnered with a classmate. These are the steps they completed:

  • Login to OneDrive
  • Access the Group folder
  • View partner’s amusement park map in the Word Web App
  • Critically evaluate the contents of the document to generate ideas
  • Activate the Comments pane
  • Select part of the document
  • Post a comment that contains five new attractions that can be added to the park
  • Close the Word Web App.
  • Log off OneDrive
screenshot of Skydrive comment

Digital partners work together to share ideas.

Here is a sample comment. It is unedited. At first glance you might notice the grammar errors. If you focus on those you will be missing something wonderful – the exchange of ideas.

Notice the excellent suggestions by George. Now notice how the student responded to their partner’s ideas. The reply is positive and acknowledges the suggestion they like the most.

What is so amazing about these comments is I never asked students to reply to their partner. On their own students discovered how to reply to a comment. As well, the quality of their replies was such a pleasant surprise.

Commenting and OneDrive in the Classroom

onedrive in education - commenting system

There is educational value in having students comment on their classmates’ work.

OneDrive offers a unique way to share completed work with others. Instead of posting the work to a bulletin board you can place it online. Imagine your students opening a document posted to OneDrive. In the left pane is a preview of the file. In the right pane is a list of positive comments from their peers. The comments detail the aspects of the document that are well done. Fellow classmates have highlighted qualities they like such as an interesting facts, formatting options, or creative elements. By reading the comments students feel valued and appreciated because their efforts are recognized.

In today’s class my students experimented with the Comment system built into OneDrive. It was an exploratory activity. My expectations were low. It was my first time having students complete this type of task. I was worried that the computers would all freeze when everyone began commenting, especially if there were multiple users viewing the same document. I was pleasantly surprised when this DID NOT happen!

Everything ran smoothly. Students were able to open the documents and provide feedback. There was no lag time or freezing.

Exploration of OneDrive Commenting System

I am glad I took a chance and tried this type of activity. Here is what I observed during class:

  • All students provided positive feedback. No one made a negative comment.
  • There was a range in the quality of comments. Since this was just an exploratory class I was only testing to see if students could comment. When I complete a similar activity in the future (now that I know it works) I will spend more time directing students on how to provide helpful, specific, feedback.
  • Students were VERY enthusiastic. Often they would post a comment and then leave their seat to tell their friend to open their work so that they could ask them to read what they wrote. This resulted in me asking the students to stay in their seats, which then caused them to speak loudly to their friend across the room. So, as you can imagine, I had to rephrase my request.
  • Students would often comment on others comments. This showed that not only were they reviewing the work, but also reading the comments. Sometimes those comments took the form of mini conversations similar to a chat dialog. I think when this happened both students must have had the same document open at the same time, and were having fun chatting in real time about the work.

Five Benefits to Commenting

Today, commenting is part of our life. People can post comments about news articles, blog entries, videos, social bookmarks, social media posts, and more. It is highly likely that your students are already engaging in this activity. Why not make it have educational value? There are several benefits to commenting:

  1. Positive feedback boosts self-esteem.
  2. An audience of peers encourages students to do their best work.
  3. Reviewing another person’s work provides inspiration for future projects.
  4. Commenting promotes critical thinking as students need to closely study the work to notice the strengths.
  5. Commenting encourages responsible digital citizenship because students recognize their posts are public and must be phrased appropriately.

How to Prepare Student Files for Commenting

Do you want to engage your students in a similar activity? There are several steps that must be completed in advance:

  1. Create a Group.
  2. Invite students to join the Group.
  3. Create a folder in the Group and set the Sharing properties to members can edit.
  4. Upload student documents into newly created folder.

How to Add a Comment

Adding a comment is simple. My students are only in Grade 7 and they required VERY LITTLE instruction. If you have older students, they will catch on fast! Here is how you write a comment:

  1. Right click on a file and select Open in Word Web App.
  2. Click Comments.
  3. Select an item on the document you would like to comment upon.
  4. Click New Comment.
  5. Type comment.
  6. Click File – Exit to close document.

Commenting Tips

Here are some helpful suggestions:

    OneDrive in Education: commenting message

    The first time Comments are added to a document this message may appear.

  • Load Comments Prior to Class: The first time you attempt to add a comment to a document OneDrive may post the following message Your document is almost ready for commenting! To begin commenting, Word Web App needs to reload to include recent changes to the document. This message is going to frustrate your students. When it appears, they have to click Reload, re-click COMMENTS, re-select text, and then re-click NEW COMMENT. To avoid this situation, activate Comments on each document prior to teaching class. Or at the very least, warn your students that this message will display.
  • Be the First to Comment: Take the time to review each document and post a comment. This will provide your students with a sample of how to provide feedback.
  • Select an Item in the Document First: Students must select text in a document before they can add a Comment. If they do not make a selection, they will receive an error message.
  • Practice Commenting Together: As a group, write a sample comment together. Have students suggest comments and then brainstorm ways to rephrase the feedback so it is higher quality.
  • Provide Examples of Low Quality Comments: Create a list of comments that are not specific, positive, or helpful. Let students know that those type of comments are restricted.
  • Be the Moderator: Read the comments posted. Delete those that are not appropriate or ask the student to rephrase the statement.

Reflection Questions about Commenting

In my next lesson I want students to reflect on the experience. Here are some of the questions I plan to pose:

  • How does the type of document alter the commenting process?
  • How does commenting help a person improve their work?
  • What types of comments are helpful or empowering?
  • What types of comments are hurtful and disempowering?
  • When might you want to post your work and allow comments?
  • When might you not want to post your work?
  • What are the limitations to OneDrive when it comes to sharing work? Is there a workaround?

Limitations of OneDrive Commenting System

The Commenting system on OneDrive has limitations and there are several areas for improvement. (Over time, I am hoping that the product evolves.) Here is what I have noticed:

  • Editing and Comments: A person should be able to act on the comments by making alterations to the document. Unfortunately, Comments cannot be seen when you edit a document using the Web Apps. They can only be seen if you open the document using a Desktop version of the program. That is a shortcoming.
  • Printable Comments: Comments are not printable. If you print the online document they are not included in the printout. Neither can you just print the Comments pane. I have tried using a screen shot to be able to create a printed record of Comments and this worked.
  • Permissions: File permission is a MAJOR flaw. At this time, if you permit a person to comment, they can also edit and download the file. That should not happen! I want four permission levels that could be set for every shared folder/file: 1. View only 2. View and comment 3. View, comment, and edit 4. View, comment, edit, and download.

I am the first to admit that today’s lesson was not perfect. In fact, since I was anticipating total network failure I remained surprised that everything was working and that this was possible. My next Commenting lesson will be way better. Hopefully these tips will help you too!

SkyDrive Registration Tips for Educators

SkyDrive Tips for Educators

SkyDrive Registration Tips

I want to be able to use SkyDrive, a free online service, with my students to store files, share work, and collaborate on school projects. The school has Microsoft Office on all computers and the majority of students (if not all) have this software at home. Their familiarity with Microsoft tools will make it easy for them to learn how to use the Word, PowerPoint, and Excel Web Apps, as well as the other features built into Skydrive to do their school and home work.

The first step towards introducing students to Skydrive is to have everyone become registered Microsoft Account holders. This step should be easy…yet it hasn’t been.

The majority of students have existing Hotmail or Live accounts, which makes it simple for them to sign into their Skydrive account and join the Grade 7 Group I created to share files. However, about a third of the class are using Yahoo, Gmail, or other web-based email accounts which requires them to complete several steps to register for a Microsoft Account.

Here is what I discovered!


At first, everything was going well. Those students with existing Hotmail or Live accounts were quickly able to sign into their Skydrive accounts and join the Grade 7 Group. Those students with Yahoo or Gmail had a bit more work. They had to key in their information, wait for a verification email to be sent to their Yahoo or Gmail accounts, and then click on the link to activate their new Microsoft Accounts.

We were able to create several new Microsoft Accounts before errors started to occur. I never had a chance to record the actual message or take a screen shot for future reference, however it read something like this, you have exceeded the number of Microsoft Accounts you can create in a day.

After those errors began to appear across computer screens throughout the lab, no more registrations could occur. We were at a standstill!

Five SkyDrive Registration Tips:

Here is what I have learned so far:

  • Start Simple: Have students with existing Microsoft Hotmail, Live, or Xbox Live accounts sign into Skydrive. If you created a group, have them join.
  • Register a Few Students at One Time: Have only a few students create a new Microsoft Account at a time.
  • Use Existing Email Address as Account Name: Have students use their existing Yahoo or Gmail email address as their Microsoft Account name, that way they don’t have to remember different usernames.
  • Use Familiar Password: Have students use their existing Yahoo or Gmail password as their Microsoft Account password so that they don’t have to remember something different, which might create confusion.
  • Security Questions: Have students select a security question instead of providing their phone number.

SkyDrive Forum:

I posted the issue I was having to the Microsoft Forum. I quickly received a response with some helpful suggestions. You can view them at the post: SkyDrive Registration – What is the Maximum Number of Microsoft Account Registrations in One Day?

Classroom Management Tips:

It can be difficult to have multiple things going on in the computer lab at one time and still have your students remain focused. Here is what we did to manage students’ workflow:

  1. Divide into Groups: Since we started registration for Skydrive last class many students are already existing Microsoft Account holders. The classroom teacher and I decided to divide the two groups – Existing Microsoft Account holders and Subscribers.
  2. Adjust Seating Arrangement: For this class to run smoothly we adjusted the regular seating arrangement. Before class, I posted stick-it notes to a line of eleven monitors with Existing Microsoft Account Holders names. Those students quickly found their seat when they entered the computer lab. The remaining students sat in an open seat. This arrangement made it easier to help both the Existing Microsoft Account holders and Subscribers because they were sitting together.
  3. Assign a Task: Existing Microsoft Account holders required a meaningful task they could complete independently. A TechnoWonderland word processing assignment was planned in advance. Students were given a one page worksheet with detailed instructions to follow. Since they were all sitting together they were encouraged to help one another if a question arose.
  4. Small Groups of Subscribers: The Subscribers were divided into three small groups. The first group worked with the classroom teacher to register for a Microsoft Account and join the Grade 7 Group. The second group worked with me to register. Meanwhile, the remaining students worked on the TechnoWonderland word processing assignment until it was their turn to register.
  5. Free Time: When a Subscriber was successfully registered, the student switched spots with an awaiting classmate and used the remaining time to complete a task of their choice. As well, when an Existing Microsoft Account holder completed their TechnoWonderland word processing assignment they also had free time. This allowed the classroom teacher and myself to solely focus on registration.

What’s Next?

I don’t want to give up. I really believe that using Skydrive will help students collaborate with peers on group projects, transfer files easily from home to school, and showcase their work.

So…my solution is to take small groups of the remaining students and register them during lunch recess.

Am I worried? YES!

If I have this much trouble registering what will it be like when the entire class is working in Skydrive. Will it freeze? Generate errors?

I’ll keep you posted!