The Mashme platform currently interfaces with Google Apps, but some customers who use Office 365 have asked for ways to integrate with Microsoft Collaboration tools.
Users want to be able to work on documents in the main room, and in several Breakout rooms, allowing users to collaborate and collate their work back into the main room for review, and have this available post session for further review.
There are several ways to do this.
The most simple way would be to share a Microsoft OneDrive folder with the participants, and have the material they want to work on located in these folders.
Then within the main room, or in Breakout rooms they can edit the documents and share them with the other members using Screen Sharing. This would only allow 1 document to be edited per person, and wouldn't allow multiple simultaneous updates.
It would work well if 1 person is leading a small group to work on a sub project.
Another option is to store the requested files in SharePoint online, so that multiple users can edit the same document, at the same time. This would have a similar benefit to using the Google Apps that are available within the platform.
You can take advantage of the SharePoint features in that case, such as content organisation (using document libraries, folders or any other option) or permissions. In combination with Office 365 it will also allow the presenter and the participants to collaborate in real-time.
Again, if a group are working on 1 document together, or when the presenter wants to share the documents with the entire cohort, they can use Screen Sharing to ensure everyone can see the same information.
The only caveat we would like to highlight is related to how to access SharePoint online on the surface.
You have two options:
- Each presenter logs into SharePoint with his/her own credentials.
- It would be important then to log out when the session is finished, to avoid security issues.
- A generic account can always be used to log into SharePoint
- From the security perspective, this is a better solution, since that account will be created and configured for that specific purpose.
It is important also to ensure that SharePoint online can be accessed from the surface (a VPN or any other requirement is not needed).
We strongly recommend spending time preparing your directory structures and file naming conventions in advance of implementing a solution like this. It is up to the individual organisation as to how they would like to structure their data, but we believe it is essential to take the following into consideration:
- Master documentation should be kept in a location that the participants can't access it
- A copy of the documents should be made available to the cohort, with a naming format that is relevant to the course, session, group etc.
- Participants or groups of participants should be able to easily identify documents that are set up for their use, so this might include them having their own folder, or files with their names included for example. Once a user is in a Breakout room, you don't want to leave them with unanswered questions.