How to Use Microsoft Forms in Office 365 Education

How to Use the New Microsoft Forms

Have you seen the new Microsoft Forms? One of the most popular articles on my blog in the last 12 months was related to its predecessor – Excel Surveys. Not only did that post get a lot of views, but it also got a lot of comments from people with questions about the features of Excel Surveys, or more importantly for some, the features it did not have. You can still use Excel Surveys, but Microsoft are in the process of transitioning to something better – Microsoft Forms. This version includes automatic grading and built-in student feedback. Here’s what you need to know.

Getting Started

You can find the homepage for Microsoft Forms by going to forms.office.com, or you may see Forms listed in the Office 365 App Launcher. Both links go to the same place. Technically, Forms is still in Preview but you can sign in with your Office 365 Education account today and start creating surveys and quizzes. The new Microsoft Forms work on desktop and mobile browsers.

Once you are logged in, click the New button to create your first form. Replace Untitled Form with a title of your choice, and add a description underneath if you want to provide any directions or information for students or parents who are filling out your Form.

Building a Form

Tapping the Add Question button gives you access to the question types that are available to you in this new version of Microsoft Forms. The options include:

  1. Choice: for creating multiple choice questions! Tap or click the slider to allow people to select multiple answers. You can also tap or click the ellipses button to shuffle answers.
  2. Quiz: a multiple choice question that you allows you to select a correct answer for automatic grading. Tapping the comment icon on each answer choice lets you add student feedback for each selection. Multiple answers and shuffled answers are also available to you when working on Quiz questions.
  3. Text: to collect short (or long) text answers use the Text question type. Tap or click the ellipses button to include number restrictions like greater than, less than, equal to, and more.
  4. Rating: for adding a star or number rating. Could be useful as part of an exit ticket or for voting on class favorites. Ratings can be out of 5 or 10, and tapping the ellipses button will allow you to add a label at either end of this Likert scale.
  5. Date: a question type that only allows for an answer in date format.

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Getting Started with Office Sway & Office Mix

Office Mix & Office Sway Logos

This week I am happy to be attending the Technology Integration Conference that Keystone AEA has organized for educators in and around Iowa. I am looking forward to learning from a host of great speakers, but I will also be giving a couple of presentations of my own on two of Microsoft’s newest tools for the classroom: Office Sway, and Office Mix. So, in this blog post, I thought I would share some resources to help get you started with one, or both, of these free tools in order to help you decide if either would be a useful addition in your classroom.

What is Office Sway?

Sway is a free, online, presentation and storytelling app. It is also the newest member of the Microsoft Office suite. It was designed to work on all devices, and is available to anyone with a free Microsoft account or an Office 365 school account. If you haven’t seen it before, you can read my introduction to Sway from an earlier blog post. You can also read the blog post I wrote for Microsoft UK on classroom uses for Sway.

The slides to my upcoming presentation below, as well as some examples of some great Sways that have been created by students and teachers for a whole variety of different educational outcomes.

Educational Examples of Office Sway in the Classroom

What is Office Mix?

Office Mix is a free add-in for PowerPoint 2013 or later. It allows you to add more interactivity to a typical PowerPoint presentation and is a great tool for flipped and blended classrooms. With Office Mix you can create screencasts that include video, simulations, inking and live quiz questions. Once finished, you can publish your Mix online for your students to access, and see the data associated with each student who views your Mix.

Right now Office Mix is only available for Windows devices, but it is a free download and can be used with a free Microsoft account or a school Office 365 account. I first wrote about Office Mix several months ago, but it is evolving all the time and new features are being added regularly. The slides from my presentation are below, along with some great resources to learn more about Office Mix.

Learn More About Office Mix

So, if you are looking for something new for your classroom, Office Sway and Office Mix are well worth a look. Both have a lot of potential, and both are free! 🙂

How to Set Document Alerts in OneDrive for Business

ONEDRIVE for business alerts

Working collaboratively in the cloud is a great convenience, and something that you can do very well in Office 365 if you use OneDrive for Business, as many schools do. However, sometimes it is nice for teachers (and students) to know when others have changed or modified a document that they co-author. To achieve such an outcome, you can set up document alerts. Here’s how.

1. Navigate to your OneDrive for Business page and find the file that you would like to set up an alert on. (You can set an alert on any Microsoft Office document).

2. Select the document by clicking on it, and then click the Files tab in the top left-hand corner of your screen to open the Files ribbon.

files tab in onedrive for business

3. Look for the Alert Me icon on the middle of the toolbar, (it looks like a bell). Click Alert Me and then choose Set alert on this document.

set alert on this document

4. The pop-up window that follows gives you a number of options as to what you would like to be alerted for and how often. These options include:

Continue reading “How to Set Document Alerts in OneDrive for Business”

How to Use the OneNote for iPad Drawing Tools

onenote draw tools for iPad

Recently, Microsoft updated OneNote for iPad to include the one thing that iPad users were missing most from their Windows versions of OneNote – Draw tools. Given the touch capabilities of the iPad, this is a very useful addition. For the classroom this means students and teachers have the option to use handwriting in OneNote, or annotate existing notes, images and more with the new drawing tools. Here’s how they work.

The drawing tools are accessed via the new Draw tab on the toolbar. If you don’t see a Draw tab, make sure your OneNote app is updated to the latest version. Tools available include a thin pen, a medium pen, a highlighter, an eraser, a selection of inking colors, pen thicknesses, and a variety of palm rejection options.

onenote draw tools ipad

To start writing, select the type of pen you want to use then choose a color from either the four default colors on the toolbar, or from one of the 16 colors that reside in the color wheel. Note that there are only four colors to choose from with the highlighter pens.

Next, choose pen thickness. You will see that line thickness varies depending on whether you choose the thin, medium or highlighter pens, but there is enough variety here that you will likely find the thickness you want from one of these pens.

The palm rejection options are a little more sophisticated than the horizontal guard you get in apps like Notability. In OneNote for iPad, there are different options for left and right handed people, and accommodations are made for a few different ways that you might hold your hand on the screen while writing on the iPad.

palm rejection onenote ipad

If you make a mistake, the eraser can come to your aid, but it might not work exactly the way you think it might. The eraser will remove entire lines at a time, as opposed to small parts of a line. For writing, this generally means the entire letter. Basically, everything you draw until you lift your stylus, or finger, will be erased in one fell swoop when you use the eraser tool. In essence, it works the same as the undo arrow. Both tools produce the same results.

To add text to your page, you don’t have to revert back to the Home tab. Instead, you can tap the text mode button to momentarily revert to typing. Once you are done typing, you can tap a pen to resume your drawing activities.

All in all it is a very successful implementation. In the future it might be nice to see the addition of a shape or line tool, but this is a great start and it adds some very useful functionality to an already great free app. The draw tools are perfect for annotating over pictures, screenshots, maps and more, but many will just use it for handwriting, and as research shows, there is nothing wrong with that.

OneNote for Teachers: Help & Support for Educators

onenote for teachers logo

For me, OneNote is a peerless app that can quickly change the way students and teachers create and organize digital content. It is intuitive, powerful and works across all your devices. Whether you are an Office 365 school district or not, it is hard to ignore the potential that OneNote has.

To help support teachers in their use of OneNote, Microsoft developed a website exclusively for educators called OneNote for Teachers. It is a great resource that helps you get started with OneNote if you are a first time user, but also includes tips and tricks for experienced users by showing you how to deliver your curriculum with OneNote through tools like the OneNote Class Notebook Creator.

I use OneNote a lot on the iPad, and find it especially useful now that iOS 8 has allowed extensions. This lets me quickly add a website to a OneNote page from Safari, or send an image from my Camera Roll to add to my existing notes. I also use OneNote on my iPhone, on Windows, and will shortly be exploring the Mac version too. OneNote is free for all these devices and all my information syncs quickly and reliably.

onenote for teachers

Looking for more ideas? I have been developing an Office 365 training site for some of the teachers that I work with. There are resources and ideas on how to use OneNote on that website and you can view it at 365education.weebly.com. You might also want  to take a look at the Microsoft Educator Network, which has a searchable bank of lessons and resources that you can use in your classroom. You can also check out my Choose Your Own OneNote Adventure Stories learning activity that was added last month.

Office for iPad: Free for Everyone

Office for Everyone

Last week, Microsoft surprised a lot of people when they made Word, Excel and PowerPoint completely free for iOS devices. The apps themselves were always free for viewing documents, but editing access required an Office 365 subscription. Not any more. The subscription element was removed and now anyone with a free Microsoft account can view, create and edit Office documents on an iPad at no additional cost. They also included support for Dropbox so that you can open documents stored in Dropbox, edit them, and save them back to Dropbox.

Microsoft Word for iPad: Free

So, what is it like using Office on an iPad? It’s very enjoyable actually. Your documents, presentations and spreadsheets all format exactly the way you would hope they would with no strange views for a mobile device like the iPad. Everything is saved to your OneDrive or Dropbox account, so all your work is still available to you if you leave the iPad and start working on a desktop or Windows tablet.

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How to Collect Data with an Excel Survey & Office 365 Education

How to Use Excel Surveys

Google Apps for Education schools have Google Forms for surveying staff and quizzing students, but you needn’t feel left out if you are using Microsoft’s Office 365. An Excel Survey does very much the same thing, and it’s easy to set up. You can even do it with a free, individual OneDrive account if your school does not use Office 365. Here’s what you need to know.


Note: An updated version of Excel Surveys – Microsoft Forms – is now available for schools who subscribe to Office 365 Education. See my blog post How to Use Microsoft Forms for more information.


Excel surveys are created online. So, you first need to log in to your OneDrive for Business account and click “new”. Select “Excel survey”, then give your document a name and click “OK”.

create excel survey

On the next screen you can enter a title for your survey and a short description or introduction for those that are filling out your survey. You can then click on the box that says to “Enter your first question here”. This opens a pop up box that gives you more options to do just that. So, enter your question, a question subtitle/help text (optional), and choose the type of question you want to ask. There are currently seven types of questions:

Continue reading “How to Collect Data with an Excel Survey & Office 365 Education”

10 Reasons Why OneNote is the Ultimate Note Taking Tool for Schools

Microsoft OneNote

It may just be the best thing you have never heard of, but if you take the time to learn how to use it, Microsoft’s free, multi-platform note taking tool will surprise you with how powerful it really is. So, here’s why OneNote is great for the classroom and beyond. (Note: Not all features are available on all platforms, or in the free apps, but all are available in the Office 2013 desktop version)

1. Availability: OneNote is a free download for Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows Phone, Mac, iPads, iPhones and Android devices. You can even use the online web app, and of course it comes with all paid Office subscriptions. So, no matter what device you use, there is a OneNote version for you. You don’t get all the features on all platforms, but you get most of what you need. What’s more, your notebooks are synced via your Microsoft account so any changes you make will instantly be updated on your other devices.

2. Organization: Think of a OneNote notebook like a three-ring binder. You use sections to divide up your notes into manageable chunks of text. You can choose a color for each section, or let OneNote choose that for you. Within each section, you can add pages so that you can add the notes that you want to take. You can have as many pages as you want in a section, and merge or group sections. Password protection can be added to sections to hide teacher notes, or to unlock a section at a time as the teacher chooses.

3. Tags: Choose from dozens of tags to help you annotate and bookmark the best part of your notes. Students can tag paragraphs they want to ask the teacher about later or mark up the important parts of their notes, while teachers can use custom tags to highlight the homework in a shared notebook. All tags can be filtered and found quickly.

4. Search: Speaking of finding things, the search function is a great tool to find anything that you need. It will search through all your notebooks, or just the one you are working on, to find the notes you need. The search bar will search all typed and handwritten text, as well as any text that it detects in images.

5. Attachments: You can attach most common file types to a OneNote notebook. Audio, video, images, PDFs and more can be added to a OneNote file to keep all your resources together in one place. This is great for teachers who may want to use OneNote for a lesson planner, or as a digital handout for students. You can also add images from Microsoft’s online clipart gallery or search Bing for images.

Continue reading “10 Reasons Why OneNote is the Ultimate Note Taking Tool for Schools”

Office Mix: It’s PowerPoint, but Not as You Know It!

If you thought you knew the limits of PowerPoint in your classroom, think again, because Microsoft have released an innovative PowerPoint add-on that extends its functionality and usefulness for teachers. It’s called Office Mix, and it’s available as a free download for Windows users who have Office 2013 installed.

office mix

The premise is simple. You take an existing PowerPoint presentation, or create one from scratch, and enhance it with the Office Mix add-on. The add-on appears in the ribbon at the top of the screen in PowerPoint and lets you add additional features like quiz questions, videos, or web content from Khan Academy or CK-12.

office Mix ribbon menu

Continue reading “Office Mix: It’s PowerPoint, but Not as You Know It!”