You may have seen my post on University group work. But I didn't cover too many specifics. With the increasing frequency and weighting of these assignments I feel that it is relevant and useful to know what tools are out there for students to use.

One of these is a free offering from Microsoft called Live@edu, this is moving to Office 365 in the near future. The University of Reading switched over to this for their student email system this year. Yet many see it as just that, an email system. However, it can be used for many more things.

I've been using it for projects ever since I've had it, both personal, and group - Skydrive is a really useful tool. There are some more features I'd like, which I'll go on to explain with my Huddle post.

Live ID

With Live@edu you use your Live ID for anything you would use your personal Live ID for. Not only can you use it with a Windows Live Messenger client, but there is a web version of this service too. If you combine this with group functionality on Live you can create, communicate and share with your groups.


This allows documents to be shared, tracked, commented and edited online. You can specify what access rights users within the group, or outside the group have to these documents. Using this means that whatever programs the group has access to there is a place online for up-to-date storage. You can use the comment tool to add comments to the document, without effecting the document itself. It also saves any hassle with downloading and compiling changes.

Windows Live Messenger

Not only does WLM with Live@edu allow you to chat, send files and show ideas via webcam but it allows you to keep up to date as to what work your teammates have done without actively checking thanks to the social stream. You're informed of edits and additions to your group's file space.


With Live@edu it is possible to share your availability with others. This is especially useful for determining a time suitable for a meeting to take place should online communication not be desirable. When this is combined with Live Groups a meeting can be scheduled and users notified within the group with minimal effort.

Office 365

This up and coming offering has all the features of Live@edu along with an option for the university to issue all, or part of their students with a full MS Office 2010 license, Sharepoint and Lync.

Sharepoint Online
This allows for even more extensive collaboration on documents and websites with full audit trails, issue tracking and more.

Lync Online
As an MSP I've had some experience using Lync to hold multi-user remote meetings. It's really an awesome tool with some great features. You can call in from a landline or mobile to join a meeting on the go. The chair of the meeting has control of who can talk. For those without microphones there's a instant messaging area. There can be a presentation area with webcam or slide show, with optional polls with real-time results.