Tag Archives: onedrive

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!

Exploring OneDrive in the Classroom

To the cloud! I want my students to be able to use the Internet to share files and collaborate with their fellow classmates. This can be a scary undertaking. In this blog article, I share with you my attempt to use OneDrive in the classroom with a class of Grade 7 students.

OneDrive and Education

Can OneDrive be used in the classroom easily by Grade 7 students?

Cloud Computing and Instructional Goals

I have FIVE instructional goals. These are:

  1. Showcase Student Work: I want to be able to post student work to a secure location on the Internet for select people to view.
  2. Develop a Learning Community: I want students to be able to study each other’s work to gain ideas for future projects and compose positive comments about the content.
  3. Create Web-Based Documents: I want to promote anytime, anywhere learning by having students create spreadsheets, word processing documents, and presentations using online apps.
  4. Produce a Seamless Workflow: I want students to be able to create a file at school and then complete their work at home by downloading the file from an online storage system to a desktop computer or by working using online apps.
  5. Collaborate in Joint Projects: I want students to be able to collaborate with a partner or small group to produce a document jointly by working on the same document at the same time.

OneDrive and Education

There are numerous file sharing options. I selected OneDrive. Why?

  • No Learning Curve: Students already use Microsoft Office at school to create files. They are familiar with the Word, Excel, and PowerPoint commands in the Web Apps accessible through OneDrive.
  • Free File Storage: OneDrive offers free file storage which will allow students to upload their school files to their account and then access them easily from home.
  • Microsoft Account: More than 60% of students already have an existing Hotmail, Live, or Xbox Live account. They can use these accounts to access their own OneDrive account, without having to register as a new user.
  • Group Management: OneDrive allows a teacher to easily create a group. The group can be used to share files, showcase student work, and collaborate. Membership is easy to manage.
  • Sharing Files is Simple: It is easy to share a file with members so that multiple people can work on the same document at the same time.

Common Issues Related to File Sharing Services

Truthfully, it would not matter which file sharing option I selected. We would still face the same concerns. These are:

  • Internet Connectivity: Online learning requires a stable, fast Internet connection. Unfortunately, the only way to determine if your system can handle the traffic is to try it out.
  • User Registration: Students need to subscribe to a service and become account holders. This process can be time consuming.
  • Reluctance to Collaborate: Not all students enjoy group work. In fact, many can’t stand working with others for a wide-range of reasons. Overcoming their reluctance is essential.

About the Exploration Process

I decided two weeks ago I wanted to give OneDrive a “test drive”. I set up a new Microsoft account. I then created a Group and set membership permissions. I made a folder, set the permissions, and posted maps from TechnoWonderland. I then practiced posting comments to each file. After I was successfully able to provide digital feedback I turned my attention to creating files using online apps and sharing individual files. Everything was working perfectly!

Next, I asked the classroom teacher to test OneDrive (I am a guest instructor). I sent him written instructions that explained how to join the group, view group files, and post comments. He tried it out and was easily able to comment on each student’s maps. Great!

Naturally, the following step was to have the students explore OneDrive. The problem is we have already had A LOT of technical issues at the beginning of the school year that derailed many lessons and created frustration. I didn’t want to stress out the students unnecessarily – especially if OneDrive turned out not to work well in the computer lab with 28 users.

I decided to give the students a choice. They could complete an Amusement Park sign by following a worksheet of instructions from TechnoWonderland or they could explore OneDrive. The group was divided evenly in their selection.

OneDrive Exploration Results

In our class today 11 students successfully activated their OneDrive accounts and joined the Group. Three students began providing positive comments to their classmates about their work. Overall it sounds successful…but that’s not the complete picture.

Here are the issues we faced:

  • Internet FROZE! For about five minutes roughly 15 machines were “locked up” and had blank screens. It doesn’t appear to be OneDrive related as no web page would load. I checked with the system administrator and she thinks the technical issue was caused by a backup the server was running.
  • Confirmation Message is SLOW to arrive! Students without a Hotmail, Live, or Xbox Live account have to create a Microsoft account. Although it is possible to register for a new email account from Microsoft, most students prefer to use their existing gmail or yahoo accounts. To register using their existing email accounts, students must complete the form and then wait for a message to be sent from Microsoft to their gmail or yahoo account with a confirmation link. We found that the confirmation messages were not instantaneously sent so this left students waiting.
  • Explorer Spirit: Trying out something new, with the uncertainty that it may not go well can be an unsettling place to be for many people. Only half the class elected to explore OneDrive. I think this is because many students were worried about the technical issues. The students that did participate had a great attitude. They were persistent and patient, which resulted in a 70% success rate. However, this leaves the dilemma of what to do with the other half of the students, especially in light of the fact that the process was NOT error-free and there remain many unknowns.

OneDrive in the Classroom – What’s Next?

At the end of class, I asked the classroom teacher if he wanted to keep exploring OneDrive. Despite the technical issues, he said “yes”.

I am a bit anxious. It is difficult to try out something new knowing that technical issues might derail the entire process. However, together we formulated a plan. Next class, students will complete a task from TechnoWonderland. While students are working, the classroom teacher and I will take small groups and help them subscribe to OneDrive and join the Group.

If we can get all 28 users subscribed the goal is to have students comment on each other’s work (Goals: Showcase Student Work and Develop a Learning Community). Can we do it? Will it work? I’ll keep you posted!

OneDrive in the Classroom

OneDrive – Easily share or upload your files to this free online storage

OneDrive in Education

Share files with your students using OneDrive.

What is OneDrive?

Windows Live OneDrive is part of Microsoft’s Windows Live range of online services. OneDrive is a file storage and sharing service that allows users to upload files to the computing cloud, then access them from a web browser. With a Microsoft account you get 7 GB of storage space for FREE! (Extra storage available for purchase).

With OneDrive you get the following:

Installing an optional desktop app lets you synchronize that storage with the hard drive on your PC where you can manage files using Windows Explorer. Optionally, you can open your OneDrive account with web access and upload the desired file(s). This may be the best option for use with students on a managed network.

Backup, Sync, and Remote Access

The most common use for OneDrive is personal file backup. Keeping your important files in a folder that is continually synchronized with an online storage service gives you a backup security blanket. If your local drive crashes, you can recover those files quickly and easily.

Another benefit is that OneDrive allows you to access files easily from multiple devices. If you have a desktop PC and a notebook, for example, you can start working on a file in your office; any changes you make are synchronized to the online copy. Then head home, grab your notebook and pick up where you left off—as long as you have access to an Internet connection. Since OneDrive allows access from mobile devices, you can even accomplish the same task with a tablet or a mobile phone.

Document Creation and Editing

OneDrive offers the ability to create and edit a variety of document types (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote) directly in a web browser using Web Apps. Online viewing and editing means you don’t need to worry about whether you’ll have the right app installed—if you can open your online file storage location in a browser, you can get your work done.

This feature lets you easily share a file with another person (or a group of people). So if you’re passing around a presentation or a spreadsheet, each member of the team can make changes and add comments.

File Sharing

The ability to set up sharing for specific folders and control access to those folders on a per-user basis makes it easy to share files online with co-workers and your students and/or their parents.

Are you planning an event in your classroom? Maybe it is almost graduation time and you need to confer with a few other teachers in your school. Using OneDrive, you can create a Word document, PowerPoint presentation or even an Excel spreadsheet and share it amongst others. Giving them the option to edit the file will allow them to add comments or even add to the document. You don’t need to worry that all people in the group have the same version of PowerPoint or Word, by using the Web Apps, it is all the same. Even if the browser is different the apps are the same.

At the end of the school year our Grade 7 students put together a presentation for the graduating Grade 8 class following the step-by-step instructions in TechnoTribute. Sometimes the number of Grade 7 students is less than the number of Grade 8’s and students need to collaborate to make sure there is a presentation for every grad. By creating a presentation and sharing it in OneDrive, the document can easily be edited by more than one user. Each student can add their slide and save the changes. The presentation can then be opened in the desktop application once back at school where it can be finished by putting on the final touches.

This is a great way for students to work together when they can’t physically be in the same place. With hockey practice and piano lessons all taking place after school and on weekends, sometimes it is difficult to get groups together to work on a project. This would alleviate that and allow students to do their part when it is convenient.

This is also a great way to provide homework sheets to students that may be absent for extended periods. As long as they have an email address and access to the internet they can view the files and keep up to date.

Photo Uploads and Galleries

Sharing photos in OneDrive is as simple as creating a folder and adding the content. Sharing them out is also quick and easy. Just select the folder that contains the pictures and click Share; add the emails of the desired recipients and you’re good to go.

This would be a great way to share the latest photos of the class field trip or recent school event with parents. (Be sure you have permission from parents to share photos of their children within the school community).