Document Collaboration and Sharing Use Cases

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Microsoft Office 365 offers the option of creating Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote documents using a web browser on-line and storing files in the cloud using OneDrive (formally SkyDrive).

The ability to use a web browser to edit and create documents on-line allows for mobility and easy access to documents that are safely stored. These documents may be shared with WPU faculty, staff, and students, as well as colleagues that do not have WPU Accounts. The ease of sharing with anyone, at any time, ensures an easy setup for collaborative work and communication. While control of documents are retained by the owner, they are also WPU assets and can be managed by WPU Information Technology staff if necessary, consistent with University policy. However, it is important to note, once documents are deleted by the “owner” or the owner’s WPU account is removed, the documents cannot be recovered.

Microsoft Office 365 is an excellent tool offering collaborative and mobility options, but it is not intended to replace Blackboard document submission and sharing, Group Files (“K Drive”), User Files (“U” drive) and "My Documents". When deciding on which technology tool to use, consider the following:

Blackboard document submission and sharing

Course material and student submissions should be maintained in Blackboard. Students and Faculty are automatically added to the course following registration and password protection limits the content to the course members. It is not necessary for the content owner to establish sharing, it is automatic. Submissions by students are time stamped ensuring deadlines are adhered to. All course content and student assignments and tests are stored in one location for ease of use by the student and class assessment activities and are maintained over time.

Group Files

Content is maintained on William Paterson University's file storage network and backed up locally. Files, though “owned” by the individual who created the file, will remain even if the owner's account is removed. Group Files should be used for department content that is an integral part of business operations that needs to be shared with members of a division, department, or group. The use is more availability than collaborative. The files are available remotely via VPN Access editing and saving is not as easy as Microsoft Office 365 and the application to edit and create files must exist on the device used to access the content, running VPN. It is possible to recover, with some time limitations, a file that was inadvertently deleted once it was stored via the backup process.

User Files

Content is maintained on the William Paterson University file storage network and backed up locally. Files are owned and maintained by an individual, but may be easily redirected to another user when the user leaves the University or incapacitated. It is a safe location for documents that a user maintains and references on-campus and remotely via a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection. It is possible to recover, with some time limitations, a file that was inadvertently deleted once it was stored via the backup process.

My Documents

When using an on-campus Windows PC documents are redirected to the University file services and backed-up via a nightly process affording the same protection offered to User Files. However, the documents may not be accessed remotely without a VPN connection. Documents on a Laptop are not redirected to University file services and backed-up. Laptop users may lose file(s) if the local drive is damaged or if a file is deleted by mistake. It is recommended that Laptop users keep important files in Microsoft Office 365, Group, or User files. Because of the danger of data loss or exposure if a theft occurs it is not acceptable to store sensitive, protected, or confidential University data on Laptop computers.

Microsoft Office 365

Excellent for ad-hoc collaboration and cloud accessibility. Microsoft Office Documents may be edited and saved in a web browser without the need for Office Applications on the local device. If Office Applications (especially Office 2013) are available on the local device, documents may be easily created and edited on the local device and saving on the cloud is transparent.

What's missing for collaboration is any sense of versioning and team sites. There's no track changes functionality in the Office Web Apps—yet—so you'll still need to use the desktop applications for that kind of use. That said, track changes information is saved within Office documents, so you can "round trip" them between the desktop and the web and not lose that information. The comment capability is available for Web Applications and will “round trip”. Team sites can be implemented but the process has not been put in place at this time.

Microsoft Office 365 should not be considered a permanent storage location. When the collaborative process or need for cloud editing is no longer necessary for a document that becomes a University resource or asset, it should be stored in group folders or user files.

It is important to note that when accessing Microsoft Office 365 or storing documents using Microsoft Office 365 Information Technology Acceptable User Policies apply the same as when using any other WPU technology resources.