I seem to get pretty regular questions around what the differences are between G Suite and Office365 and how to switch to the O365 tools. These conversations happen at a number of levels, from technical questions such as moving mailboxes from Gmail to O365 Exchange, through to the differences between Google Docs and OneNote.
Helpfully, the Office365 Support Team have recently created some excellent guides on how to switch to their products and have taken real care with keeping the format of these guides consistent between the various applications in the suite. This makes it super easy for end users to easily navigate to the help they need on a specific application.
From an educational context, the above are excellent and cover off the majority of applications that teachers and students might use, with one notable exception: OneNote. It’s perhaps because OneNote does a whole lot more than Google Docs that it is not included, but nevertheless a guide of comparable functionality would certainly complete the set of migration documents!
Once you’ve chosen an application you’re presented with the folllowing:
The formatting is worth paying attention to here. Every guide has:
- Horizontal menu bar with options to explore the main differences between the G Suite and O365 application, guides on how to collaborate with other users (Work Together) as well as Tips and links off to additional help and training.
- As you choose each sub menu, you’re provided with context-specific screenshots and guides
- There is a short (usually less than 2minutes) video introduction to the application in O365.
The key differences between the applications are especially helpful for new users, quickly highlighting areas where the application behaviour may be different than expected. This is clearly displayed in a table like the following:
These types of guides are super handy if you’re in charge of leading change in schools and significantly reduce the workload in terms of producing “guides” and documentation for teachers/students. Change is hard and there is always a variety of learning styles that people want when it comes to upskilling in new products.
Some prefer to attend sessions where someone can work alongside them and show them step by step how to use a new application. These can be every effective but are time consuming and difficult to scale because of limitations around time and resources. Additionally, others simply want material they can digest themselves, whether that be written documentation or videos to follow along that they can rewind / fast forward as necessary. The beauty of these resources is that it contains both text and images/videos to cater for most learners.
The above guides can also be used in conjunction with specific education focused resources such as the Microsoft Educator Community and these Quick Tips:
For schools that are using ChromeBooks and are exploring a move to Windows 10 and Office365 there is a good in-depth guide here:
There is also the Office365 Roadmap available which makes it very easy to see which products are getting updated with new features:
When making a significant shift in a school, such as moving to Office365 as the primary Cloud Productivity Suite for creation and collaboration of content, it’s sometimes worth exploring this change in the wider context of the school strategy. I really recommend you check out the Ten Critical Critical Components of School Transformation to get some insights:
This guide is excellent, product/vendor agnostic and covers off the ten stages under the two main categories of:
- Leadership and policy:
- Establishing a Vision
- Partnerships and capacity building for change
- Organisational capacity, strategic planning and quality assurance
- Inclusion, accessibility and sustainability
- 21st Century Pedagogy
- Personalized Learning
- Teacher and leader capacity
- Curriculum and assessment
- Developing a learning community
- Physical learning environments
- Designing technology for effective and efficient schools
It’s always interesting to point out to leaders that only #10 in the list directly deals with the technology.
Technology is a great servant of pedagogy – not vice versa!
When the thinking is put in first and is informed by the educational research then often the decisions around the technology platforms become self evident.