Friday, January 6, 2017

Office 365 in Education: Explore the Possibilities!

Every Plano ISD educator and student has an Office 365 account. What does that mean? How do you get to it? Read on to find out!

Office 365 has SO many applications and features. I will cover some of the most popular ones for education. For reference, you can learn more about each here:

In this post I will frequently compare Office 365 to Google Apps for Education (GAFE) because Plano has been a GAFE district for several years now and most of you are familiar with how it works.

What is Office 365?

Similar to Google Apps for Education (GAFE), Office 365 Education has a suite of Apps to help teachers and students stay organized, collaborate with each other, and engage others.

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You do not need to create an account as one is already provided for you through the PISD organizational account. These apps are available from any device so you can be productive on the go.

More information on each app is detailed in the "Office 365 Apps" section below.

How to Access Office 365

  1. Go to or log in to and click the Office 365 icon.
  2. Click "Work or school account". Enter your PISD email address and network password.

Once logged in, you'll arrive at a dashboard of Office apps available for you to use. 

Log in to your Office account by going to

Note that the button "Install Office 2016" will not work as we cannot install executable files on school computers. However, you don't need it because you already have the online version! 

You can customize the background theme/color by clicking on the Settings gear button and then "Theme". 

Dabble in your Settings to see what else it has to offer. Notice you can select a different Start Page if you'd like. Please do not change your password here. 

Office 365 Apps

Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, & Excel - 
The online versions of this software make it handy to create, share, and access a document online at anytime from anywhere. Just login to the link above and click the icon for the application that you want. Be sure to check out all the templates available.

Microsoft Classroom -
This is very similar to the way Google Classroom works. However, it is not live yet. Users will be able to add the OneNote Class Notebook add-in to improve the classroom functionality and student workflow.

OneNote -
OneNote is a note taking and organization tool that all PISD students and educators have on their school computers. A digital notebook! It can be found in the PISD Apps Microsoft Office folder. Sync it with OneDrive online so that you can access it from anywhere. Check out the comprehensive OneNote lesson in Atomic Learning. Here's how:
  • Go to
  • Sign in using your PISD email address and network password, 
  • Search for "OneNote for Organization and Collaboration" to learn all about what OneNote 2013 can do for you and your students. 

OneNote Class Notebook -
In this program you can organize course content, add students and create a personal workspace for them, create and share interactive lessons, and have a collaborative space for you and your students. OneNote Class Notebook opens within your existing OneNote. No download needed! (Do not click the button to download the OneNote Class Notebook program to your school computer because it will not work and is not necessary). Visit the site above to learn how to create one.
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Outlook -
When logged in to your Office 365 account you can click on the "Mail" button, which takes you to the online version of your Outlook email. No install needed! Just sign in to your Microsoft account and click the Mail button. Or you can go directly to

OneDrive -
When logging in to OneDrive, be sure to click "OneDrive for Business" and sign in using your PISD email address and network password. If you're familiar with Google Drive, the concepts for OneDrive are the same. Formerly known as SkyDrive, OneDrive is an online storage space for files and folders allowing you and your students to:
  • create and share documents online, 
  • collaborate on a document at the same time with others, 
  • have access to lots of storage space (1TB in your Office 365 account compared to Unlimited in your Google Drive)
Forms -
Very much like Google Forms, you can create a Microsoft Form to survey or quiz your classroom/audience. If you're familiar with Google Forms, you'll recognize the format, making it easy to use. Comparatively, there are limited themes to choose from but I love that in the Preview screen you can view the form on computer or a mobile device.

Sway -
Make presentations POP with this cool tool. Create interactive lessons, use existing templates, and have students use Sway as a refreshing alternative to presentation tools like PowerPoint. Get the full overview of how it works by watching this video: Office Sway: Reimagine How Your Ideas Come to Life (video)

Preview of
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As always, your Instructional Technology Specialists are here to help you with any of the above. We strongly encourage you to seek how any one of these Office 365 Education apps might benefit you and your students in the classroom and how integrating these technology tools can meet your T-TESS goals. 


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