Collaboration (1 of 2) | A Students’ Life with EdTech #3

How can students and lecturers at University leverage the power of OneDrive to increase collaboration and productivity on campus?

I am writing a blog series about my personal perspective as a Master’s student on the role that technology plays in education. Click here for Part I (Introduction) or here for Part II on my ideas for improving the applications process.

In times where AI and other technological advancements seem set to take over the majority of tasks that are now executed by human labour, soft skills – like verbal and written communication, the ability to work collaboratively in teams and to influence others – are the element that fundamentally distinguish us from robots. Even before the advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, collaboration was considered a key skill to develop employability. If you search “collaboration graduate skills” on Google Scholar, nearly 900,000 results will come up. It is fundamental that in large Universities students and educators adopt modern habits of collaborating to stay up to date with the changes in this brave new world.

Collaboration is an important skill to have to be successful in anything you do, from being the CEO of a big multinational to taking your Masters at UCL. Through my past experiences, I have noticed that the way collaboration takes place depends a lot on the organisation’s own culture and individuals’ personal experiences; if you are used to things one way, you will be unlikely to adopt new ways. For modern collaboration to take place, there should be a mix of bottom-up and top-down approaches:

Students should encourage educators to adopt new forms of collaboration and educators should embrace this change creating the right framework for change to happen.

Collaborating with OneDrive

Given that most Universities get Office 365 for free for all their students, these following steps are a good way for students to encourage modern ways of working in a University environment.

Group projects are the worst at University: they are often long-winded tasks and you always have someone who lays back and does not contribute! Using OneDrive to store your projects is a smart way to access it from anywhere (goodbye last-minute hunt of the missing drive!) and collaborate live on the same document, avoiding creating immense duplicates and losing work & time. There can be only one version of the truth!

  1. The most productive way to share your ideas is to create a document on your University OneDrive:
2. Click Share on the top right of your screen:
3. Insert your friends’ email addresses to invite them to collaborate on the document:

3. This last step is very important, as you have the ability to give access to your document to anyone, people at your University only, specific people etc… Also, you have the right to allow them to edit your document if you want their input or allow them to read only, so they can’t ruin your hard work! Context in this instance is key.

My favourite feature of storing files (Word, PowerPoint, Excel etc..) on OneDrive is that you can collaborate LIVE on them with others:

The other day I was helping my younger brother, Belisario, with his CV. He’s on his first year at Sussex University and all we had to do was share one document to get the creative juices flowing.

Different approaches to changes in collaboration
Many times, students are encouraged to consult lecturers in their choice of topic for dissertations, term papers etc… To avoid having dozens of versions of your abstract, just share the file with your lecturer and wait for their input to come through!

As a lecturer, next time a student sends you a link from their OneDrive, take it as an opportunity to embrace EdTech and learn how to increase productivity in a smart way. Collaboration using Office 365 is very important in a lecturer-to-lecturer context too. OneDrive offers security capabilities that most storage applications don’t have. This level of compliance is very relevant to protect Intellectual Property that comes from the research undertaken by most lecturers. Making sure that you store and share your files and research developments with OneDrive for Business will protect your work. Also, 1TB of free storage is hard to beat!

These examples of putting a file on OneDrive for Business to increase collaboration and productivity are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to EdTech. There are many other things you can do, such as chat with all your co-editors in real time.

New ways of working take time to be accepted as new ways of doing things. There is always resistance from different sides for a variety of different reasons. The approach I have espoused here is rare to find actually happening, and it’s a very organic perspective on change management. Hable can help overcome the challenges it presents by changing the perception that people have of IT, designing courses and programmes aimed at explaining and communicating both the how to and the why to of embracing modern workplace habits with Office 365, while demystifying some of the misconceptions of using the cloud.

Click here to get in touch with us and understand how to implement new ways of working with Office 365 in your organisation.

If you have any specific topics that you would like me to cover in the future, drop me a line at oiurcovich@hable.co.uk or continue the conversation on Twitter.

Oli Lurcovich