Using Office 365 for learning and teaching

Why use Office 365?

Microsoft Office 365 is available to all staff and students at LSE and contains some very powerful tools to support teaching and learning. This resource considers a range of teaching and learning activities and the Office 365 tools that can be used to support them.   

It is important to note that these apps can be used before, during and after sessions to support students’ collaborative work. The apps can also be used to connect online and on-campus teaching contexts. 

While some colleagues may already use some third party apps like those available through Google, many of the Microsoft Office 365 tools are provided by the School as either "managed" or "supported", meaning that you can email and expect to receive helpdesk support in rectifying any problems. Digital Skills Lab also offer staff and students support and advice on using any Office 365 tool, including support for those who wish to pursue Microsoft app certification.  

How to use this resource? 

Each of the subsections below focuses on a specific Office 365 app. We provide an overview of the app and its possible use in a learning and teaching context.  

You can either browse the subsections or use the table below to navigate to apps that support the type of activity you are interested in. 

Teaching and learning activity 

Office 365 App 

Brainstorm/Mind Map 

Whiteboard, OneNote, Word 

Digital Collections 

OneNote, Sway 

Group Project 




Peer Feedback 

Word, OneNote 


Sway, PowerPoint 

Problem Sets 

Excel, OneNote 

Quizzes / Surveys 


Share files 

OneDrive, Stream 

Whiteboard Work 

Whiteboard, OneNote 





OneNote is a great way of keeping notes that can be shared, accessed from anywhere (via web browser or desktop app), and used to work collaboratively. Although essentially a notebook, each page is an infinite canvas, making it ideal for brainstorming sessions, where users can expand on their own and other’s ideas as little or as much as they like.   

Users can insert images, documents or hyperlinks and use text or digital ink to annotate around them. This functionality can also be used to support feedback. Pages containing brainstorms can easily be organised within the different sections of a OneNote notebook and later reviewed to deepen understanding.   

If you are using OneNote for Windows 10 or OneNote for Web, the Maths Assistant tool converts your handwritten maths work into text and can be used to solve equations or create graphs.  

If you wish to use OneNote as a whiteboard and are using OneNote on an iPad, you may interested to read our guide on sharing your iPad with a Zoom meeting

Teaching and learning activity: using OneNote to generate and structure ideas for debate

You can use a OneNote notebook to bring together the different phases of small group and whole class work preparing for and carrying out a debate.  

Separate sections of a notebook can be allocated to each group, much as in a physical classroom groups would sit around one table. Multiple pages within a section can be used to provide guidance on small group activities and for students to respond to those activities.  Students can insert text, images, links and file attachments into the pages easily. 

These activities can be structured so that students can engage with them in advance, during and after a face-to-face session. 

As the whole notebook is accessible to everyone in the class the notebook can be used to support whole class discussion. This also makes it easy for you to check on the progress of small group work. 

In this brief YouTube video, Abigail Myers demonstrates how to create the OneNote and share it with students.  

Allocate students to work in small groups and create a section in the notebook for each group. Within each section, create pages for each aspect of an issue you want the students to debate. On each page provide a provocation – a statement that students need to argue either for or against. You can either allow the students to decide whether to argue for/against or you can allocate the position they must adopt. If you share the notebook in advance of class students can use the provocations to shape their reading/research. 

Working in groups (within breakout rooms if online) students have a set amount of time (depending on the number of provocations and the level of supporting evidence you require) to discuss and collate key points/evidence, which they write underneath the provocation. Each group then presents a summary to the whole class using their notes as a visual aid. 

To extend this activity groups could move between sections adding notes to the other groups’ work, either supporting or challenging the position they have taken. Groups could also be asked to add any evidence they believe is missing.   

The resultant notebook becomes a resource that students can refer to for revision. 

You could use an anonymous poll before the activity for students to vote for/against each provocation, and at the end of the activity to see if there has been any change in opinion. 

Further guidance 

Eden Centre: Use OneNote for teaching & learning 

Microsoft Education Blog: 10 Best uses for OneNote in your teaching and learning 

Microsoft: OneNote Teacher Academy 

Microsoft: OneNote help & learning 





Forms is a quick and easy way to create quizzes and surveys. These can be used to assess prior knowledge or understanding and gain student feedback. Responses are tabulated by Forms for you and the data generated can be viewed and manipulated in Excel. As Forms is web based, you can embed your quizzes or surveys in your Moodle course. You can also share Forms as templates for others to adapt to their own purposes.  

Teaching and learning activity: using Forms for student reflection and self-evaluation

Forms for student reflection and self-evaluation can be created in advance of the course and links then shared either after each session or at key points in the course. Responses can be anonymous. Forms automatically collates responses on an Excel spreadsheet and can be used by the teacher to inform their planning for the next lesson.  Students can access the spreadsheet to reflect on alternative perspectives from the session. 

In this brief YouTube video, Eoin Meade demonstrates how to create the Form and share it with students. 

Five minutes before the end of a session you ask students to respond in Forms to prompt statements e.g. The two most useful things I learned during this session were....; the question that remains uppermost in my mind is.....; the action I need to take to clarify my understanding is.... 

Writing the responses should encourage students to reflect on the session and to plan further action. The responses could also be used to help teachers prepare to answer questions about topics addressed in a lecture during a subsequent seminar. 

Further guidance 

Microsoft: Forms help & learning





Sway is marketed by Microsoft as a ‘digital storytelling’ tool and can be used to create visually appealing presentations, newsletters, lessons or digital collections. Where PowerPoint was originally conceived to support a presenter, Sway is designed to be a more interactive experience and is, therefore, less dependent upon the presence of a presenter. Sways can be created and edited collaboratively, making it ideal for group presentations. They are also easily shared, either by link or by embedding them in a Moodle course. Sways can be created from scratch, a template, or from an existing file created in Word. Sways allow customisation and incorporation of various media, such as headings, text, audio, video, and images. The embed tool allows you to embed one Sway within another. Using this, small group work could be combined with that of others to form a larger collection accessible to all. 

Teaching and learning activity: using Sway to improve student engagement with presentations 

Independent study followed by class presentations is commonly used to cover material that face-to-face teaching time doesn’t always allow for.  However, students don’t always fully engage with their peers’ presentations, which can result in wasted class time.   

An alternative to students presenting their findings during class time would be to have the students prepare a Sway in advance, which their peers should engage with before class. Class time can be used for students to question each other and discuss key points.  

It would be useful to provide guidance on how the students should engage with the Sway e.g. identify one aspect of the presentation that helped you develop your understanding and identify one question that you would like the presenter to address in more detail during the class. 

Sways are better suited to being shared asynchronously than PowerPoints as they are less dependent upon the presence of a presenter and are more interactive.  

In this brief YouTube video, Eoin Meade demonstrates how students might collaborate on a Sway and how several student Sways can be combined to create a class resource. 

Students are asked to research how different approaches to research might address a policy issue. Students are allocated to groups that represent the different approaches e.g. cost-benefit analysis; randomised controlled trials; behavioural insights for policy/nudge. 

They are given time to research their topic and develop a collaborative group Sway to present their findings.  The Sway could include text, embedded video, recorded audio, and images.  

Students view each other’s Sways in advance of class and come to class ready to ask questions of each other in response.  Teacher facilitates discussion and provides clarification where necessary. Students are then given time to revise Sways before they are collated as a resource for revision. 

Further guidance 

Microsoft: Sway for education: introduction to Sway 

Microsoft: Getting started with Sway 

Learning and Teaching Hub @Bath: What is it? Sway 

Cardijn College Horizons video tutorial: Microsoft Office 365 Tutorial - Using Sway in the Classroom 





Word documents can be shared via OneDrive, and, as such, can be used for student/peer collaboration, including brainstorming and peer feedback. Teachers and students can co-edit a single document, commenting on or adding to each other’s ideas. If you wish to structure an activity you can either use the shapes tool to design a layout or use one of the pre-existing SmartArt layouts. The review tools, including track changes and comments are ideal for providing peer feedback.  If you are using Word for the web, students can use the comments function to engage is a real time dialogue about each other’s work. 

Teaching and learning activity: using Word to support peer feedback

Students can work in peer study groups to provide collective feedback on a range of aspects of each other’s writing. 

It will be useful to discuss with students how they should frame constructive feedback. It might also be useful to provide students with an assessment/marking framework that they can use as a guide for commenting. 

Students share their writing with other members of their peer study group. This can be done by either saving the work in a shared OneDrive folder that is accessible to all the group or by sharing directly to others using the ‘share’ function in Word. 

In this brief YouTube video, Eoin Meade demonstrates how to share a Word document with others and how peer feedback can be provided using the review tools.   

Students are asked to draft an essay plan designed to address a specific question (alternatives might be an answer to an exam short question, an executive summary of a policy paper).  

Each student in the group is tasked with giving feedback on one particular aspect of the writing e.g one student may comment on structure, another on integration of theory, yet another on use of evidence.   

To extend this activity you could ask students to write a reflective account of what they have learned from providing feedback to others and how peer feedback has helped them develop their writing. 

If students agree, you can ask each group to share their writing/feedback with the whole class via a shared OneDrive folder that you create. If there are examples that you think would be useful for future cohorts to read before completing the task, you can ask permission from the students to retain for future use. You should give the students the choice of having their work anonymised. 

Further guidance 

Microsoft: Collaborate in Word 





Excel worksheets and workbooks can be shared via OneDrive and, as such, teachers and students can co-edit a single worksheet/workbook. Excel is useful when the layout of numerical data is important and/or you want to use formulas to perform calculations

Group work can be facilitated by creating a template worksheet within a workbook that can be quickly and easily replicated for each group.  Working in their groups (in breakout rooms if via Zoom) students can complete worksheets or problem sets, which can subsequently be shared with the whole class as part of a discussion and to check understanding. 

Further guidance 

Microsoft: Excel help and learning 





You can share files with colleagues and students from within your OneDrive, and choose whether to allow others to either read or edit files. OneDrive is particularly useful if you wish to share larger files such as videos and PowerPoints with embedded media.   

Further guidance 

Get started on OneDrive





PowerPoint can be used for individual or group presentations or as a pre-recorded lecture. When editing using PowerPoint for the web, users can collaborate with others in real time. If you wish to create narrated presentations in PowerPoint, you can read Microsoft’s guide, Record a slide show with narration and slide timings. Once you have created a narrated presentation, you can export it as a video file before sharing through a video hosting platform such as Echo360 or Stream. If you have never used PowerPoint before, Basic tasks in PowerPoint for the web, on Microsoft support, gives you a quick overview.  

Further guidance 

Microsoft: PowerPoint help & learning 





Stream, Microsoft’s video platform, allows students and teachers to share video content securely. It also contains a rather useful automatic captioning feature. If you have recorded video content, either through Zoom, Echo360 or other means, you can upload the Mp4 file to Stream and it will automatically generate captions. However, technical terms, accent, pronunciation and speed of delivery can all impact on the accuracy of the captioning. Therefore, you should not share a video with automatically generated captions before first checking through and, potentially, editing the captions. You also have the option to download the captions as a VTT file, which includes the text, timings and metadata. This file can be uploaded to create closed captions on the video when shared through another video hosting service, for example Echo360.  

Videos hosted on Stream can be easily shared through a link or by embedding them within other Office 365 apps, including PowerPoint, Sway and OneNote, or within a Moodle course. 

Further guidance 

Microsoft: documentation page for Stream 





As the name suggests, Whiteboard is the Office 365 tool that is most suited to whiteboard work. It is an infinite canvas that automatically saves and supports collaboration and sharing. Depending on which version you are using, it replicates a range of whiteboard functionality, including the ability to write, draw, type, add images and sticky notes.   

For full functionality, you will need the app version – available for Windows 10 and iOS (iPad and iPhone). This version includes ink beautification (which makes your handwriting more legible) ink to shape and ink to table (to convert your drawings to shapes or tables). The Windows 10 version also allows you to insert PowerPoints, Word docs and PDFs onto your Whiteboard canvas. If you are using Whiteboard on iPad, you may interested to read our guide on sharing your iPad with a Zoom meeting

Collaboration can be done in real time, and therefore Whiteboard is useful for brainstorming sessions. Group members can work on their own device but on a shared whiteboard, exchanging and developing ideas. The resulting whiteboard is automatically saved to be accessed, edited or shared at a later date. For full functionality, users will need to have the app version, which is available for Windows and iOS (iPad and iPhone), though a more limited web version of Whiteboard can be accessed via Office 365 online.  

The app version contains a ‘Note Grid’ function where users can post sticky notes and react to each other’s notes by way of a thumbs up. These can be sorted in several different ways, including by reaction. This could be a quick way of identifying emerging ideas from within a group. Unfortunately, this and some other functions will not appear to users accessing a whiteboard through the web version, though they can still use pens, add text and sticky notes. 

Further guidance 

Microsoft Whiteboard Videos on Youtube 

Microsoft Whiteboard Help