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22 July 2021

Collaborative learning with Microsoft Office 365 tools

Collaboration is one of the top five most in demand global soft skills today. By implementing collaborative learning, you can boost students’ employability and help them develop skills such as communication, conflict resolution and teamwork, which are essential in the workplace. There are a range of Microsoft Office 365 tools that can support collaborative learning.    

Dr Isma Seetal, Dr Tara Draper and Dr Puva Arumugam ran a series of workshops about how collaborative learning and Microsoft Office 365 tools can enhance student learning. We summarise some of the top points from their sessions. 

Collaborative learning defined 

Collaborative learning is defined as goal-oriented group work where students work on joint activities, and in doing so, co-construct knowledge by sharing and negotiating ideas. Interactions are at the heart of collaboration. As students collaborate, they not only interact with their peers and teachers but also with resources and interfaces through a range of activities.    

A well-structured collaboration can have a positive and significant impact on students’ satisfaction and support their individual learning, leading to better engagement and performance. It can also stimulate their openness to diversity by increasing their exposure to different viewpoints.   

Despite the educational benefits to collaborative work, students typically find working together difficult. As educators, we can support students through scaffolding of the collaborative activity and instructor guidance.   

Tools for collaborative learning 

Using online tools for collaborative learning has a positive influence on group interaction. It provides opportunities for students to get emotional support from group peers. It also facilitates teachers’ interaction with students, increasing opportunities to provide pedagogical guidance, help and technical support.   

As part of the Deakin community, you have access to the Microsoft Office 365 suite of tools. Most of the Office apps are integrated into Microsoft Teams. This is the collaborative hub where students can work on artefacts, interact extensively, plan their work and much more.   

The right tool for each stage of the collaborative project  

Before assigning project topics, for example, gauge students’ prior learning. You can easily do this by creating a form in Microsoft Forms.   

If students have not worked collaboratively with peers in their class prior to the assigned project, consider creating a community space using Yammer. Students can use Yammer to get to know each other, share resources and post questions.   

Microsoft Planner and Lists can help students organise and track their project tasks seamlessly. As students delve into their project work, they can use OneNote, Microsoft’s digital note-taking app, to capture and synthesise research or take meeting notes.   

Students must often produce an artefact by the end of their project. Using Microsoft Sway, they can collaborate in real-time or asynchronously to produce artefacts such as newsletters, reports and interactive presentations.  


Learn more about using Yammer in teaching and learning by visiting the Using Yammer training resource. You can also find a range of helpful tips and guides to get started in with Teams in the Microsoft Teams training resource. 

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