Introducing guest access for Office 365 Groups

Introducing guest access for Office 365 Groups

By Christophe Fiessinger as written on blogs.office.com
Sometimes you need to work closely with customers, partners, suppliers or consultants outside of your organization, and you need collaboration tools to make this possible. Today, we are pleased to announce the new guest access feature for Office 365 Groups—the group membership service that provides a single identity for teams in Office 365. The new guest access feature gives you the ability to include people outside of your company in an Office 365 group.
We are rolling out guest access functionality in phases. Starting today, group owners can add guests to a group in Outlook on the web. Once added, guests receive a welcome email, are granted access to group files in SharePoint Online, begin receiving email messages and calendar invites sent to the group, and can send messages to the group. They also have automatic access to cloud-based file attachments. Guests have the option to leave the group at any time and visual indicators remind all members of guest participation in the group across all Outlook experiences.

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Guest access works for any email accounts including corporate and consumer domains (such as Outlook.com or Gmail.com). If the guest email identity is associated with a Microsoft account (such as Office 365 or Outlook.com accounts, for instance), the user is directed to a sign-in page to identify themselves. If the guest doesn’t have a Microsoft account, they will be directed to a sign-up page to create an account.

Professional learning community groups in Office 365 Education

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Professional learning community groups in Office 365 Education

A professional learning community, or PLC, is a group of educators who meet regularly to share expertise and work collaboratively to improve teaching skills and the academic performance of students. Teachers around the world have started using Office 365 Groups to make collaboration within a PLC a lot simpler and more streamlined. PLC groups are typically formed around interest areas (e.g., 9th grade math), grade levels (e.g., 10th grade teachers) or across subjects (e.g., science teachers).
Here are some barriers to engagement with PLCs today that Office 365 Groups is addressing:
•Teachers can be isolated, time is severely limited and collaboration is difficult.
•Professional collaboration tools are disconnected and don’t always support meaningful, sustained collaboration.
•A challenge for many PLCs is extending the work and relationships in the times and spaces between physically coming together.
•It can be difficult for new teachers to ramp up.
•Information is often stored in personal spaces as opposed to one common place that can benefit others.
•New members need to better understand the journey, story, exploration and history of a PLC, its activities and areas of inquiry.
As part of our April announcement, we mentioned how we are going to further improve our experience for PLCs. Today, we are excited to announce the PLC Groups Preview—tailored to meet the needs of teachers and overcome the above mentioned barriers to engagement today.
The new Office 365 PLC groups include one place to collaborate effectively in a community of practice. Each group comes with a:
•Inbox for group email communication, including Connector for connecting your group to Twitter and following topics or Twitter handles that interest your PLC group.
•Calendar for scheduling group events.
•Document library for storing and working on group files and folders.
•OneNote notebook for taking project and meeting notes.
•Planner for organizing and assigning tasks and getting updates on project progress.
PLC groups are also available on all your mobile devices—both Outlook Groups and OneNote have mobile apps. This helps you keep track of your PLC conversations and PLC notebooks, making it easy to share relevant resources with your groups on the go.
A look at how one district implemented PLC groups
For an in-depth look at how Omaha Public Schools is using Office 365 Groups for their PLCs to streamline collaboration, read their full case study on the Customer Stories page and then watch this video:

Administrators at Omaha Public Schools developed some guidance for their staff on how to do PLCs in their district:

Here’s what Omaha Public Schools staff members have to say about their experience with PLC groups:
“Looking at what Omaha Public Schools’ needs are around professional learning, it was important to build around a platform that was consistent with what our teachers and staff use on a daily basis.”
—Rob Dickson, executive director of Information Management Services for Omaha Public Schools
I love the fact that I can create sections, that I can create pages within the sections, and I can upload anything I want, or do a quick snip from a page and throw it in there. Everyone knows the format, so we’re not trying to figure out somebody else’s way of thinking.”
—Laura Wray, 4th grade teacher at Wakonda Elementary School
“Using our PLC groups, everything is templated out, so you just add to them and it pops up in their Office 365 account and they’re rolling the next day…There’s so much asked of teachers. They can go home at night and say, OK, here’s an activity we did today and it really helped with that comprehension strand, and I want to make sure my teammates get that.”
—Rebecca Chambers, instructional technology coach
Office 365 Groups—integrated to support PLCs
Here is an example of how Office 365 Groups for PLCs integrates Outlook, OneNote and a SharePoint library:

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In Outlook on the web, a faculty member chooses the PLC template to create a PLC group.

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The PLC group collaborates, shares lesson plans and stores student data all in a shared group OneNote notebook.

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The PLC group can store PLC reference material in the group’s document library.

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For more information about upcoming improvements to Office 365 Groups for Education, please visit the Office 365 Education Roadmap.

 

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Video: Office 365 Groups: Quick tour of new user and admin experiences

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Office 365 Groups: Quick tour of new user and admin experiences

Today we take a tour of all the recent updates to Office 365 Groups – spanning user, IT and developer experiences. Groups are pervasive in Office 365, providing self-service capabilities to accelerate collaboration – from conversations, calendar, files, to notes and planning. From an admin's perspective, this also means there is a need to create, modify and audit all activities; Groups in Azure AD provides these capabilities as well.

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Make team correspondence even easier by creating Groups in Outlook with the new Office. Send emails to your whole Group with one click rather than adding them in one at a time. Imagine all the time you'll save! Try Office 365 to get the 2016 apps today:

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Make team correspondence even easier by creating Groups in Outlook with the new Office. Send emails to your whole Group with one click rather than adding them in one at a time. Imagine all the time you'll save! Learn more.

Try Office 365 to get the new Office 2016 apps!

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