Gideon Williams

Office365 Integration - I am really concerned...!

Blog Post created by Gideon Williams Champion on May 6, 2018

Did the title get your attention?


OK, lets start with the positives, there are LOTS of things I like about the Office365 LTI:


Working in a school with 1-1 Surface Pro devices for staff and student, Office365 and OneDrive for Business; integrating Office/office productivity tools into the learning platform is absolutely critical for developing/enhancing our digital teaching and learning.


The Collaborations tool is wonderful and is a great feature to engage students with the platform and encourage staff to develop their Canvas skills beyond a mere repository store. I have posted comments and tweeted a number of really positive things which you can find here Collaborations – Changed my world! and most recently here - gideonwilliams on Twitter: "Crowd sourcing results for Yr7 practical - Impact of Force on extension of spring. Used @Off… when looking at how I used Excel in a Physics Practical. Setting up collaborations for small groups also removes the always irritating Johnny is absent today and he has got the file  or Sorry sir, I have left the work at home issues with any form of sharing work.


The ability to embed a PowerPoint presentation through a link in a Module is also a strong feature of the integration. The feature allows you to make additions or corrections (in my case) to a presentation without having to re-upload it. I also teach classes where students have their own devices so having the students watch the presentation as I go through it (with all the animation features) is another positive.


The Cloud Assignment is also another very good feature (with a little bit of tweaking). I will regularly set assignment tasks that require students to complete work on a Word document. Once the assignment is made (and before I publish it) I can then go back into the Word document and add in necessary content. Allowing students to submit documents from their own Office365 OneDrive for assignments is also a very useful feature.


These are three great features which (on a good day) balance the continuing disappointments I have with the integration. Regular readers of any of my posts will be all too familiar bored with me mentioning these again, namely:

  • the inability to embed documents in a page (Google integration can)
  • the issues with shared documents/folder (Google integration can also do this)

Incidentally, if you want to add your voice to this then there are Ideas open for the development of these - Office365 LTI Phase 2


So this is not the reason for the post, its about what I have spent some hours this morning doing.


Annoyance #1

I have produced a range of revision resources for my students using the integration and put them on my course inside a Module. I then asked if colleagues would be interested in having these on their courses. As a Canvas Admin I am able to import content from one course to any other course. It is a godsend! I imported the Module with the resources from my course to the other course. Everything seemed fine until I tried to open the files and was met with a blank page. None of the links  copied across open. It was an initial setback but undeterred I opened the documents on my original course and tried copying the links and over-writing the links on the new courses - still no luck! I then enrolled myself in the course, thinking it might be an issue there - nope, still no dice. 


So I decided to look at the link from the LTI when I made a link to a document in my OneDrive. The file link looks like this: 

I then recreated the link in a new course to find that the link remains the same expect the number changes eg 

So the link is not a link but a reflection of the number of links you have made to your OneDrive. In effect, this is completely and utterly useless beyond the moment it was made. 


With this new understanding I then rewrote the link changing it to a number which would represent the next link in line. This of course did not work. What was more galling was the fact that it was the exact same link when I went through the motions of recreating it using the External Tool feature.


Annoyance #2

I get that I am partly to blame here but nonetheless....


I also run support for staff with Canvas and have a range of Word based help guides on my Office365 account linked to an EdTech Support course. I decided to do a bit of housekeeping as the files have grown in number and I wanted to organise them more efficiently. BIG MISTAKE. The moment I move the files in my OneDrive to a new folder, I lost the link. I had to redo every single link. Now of course this does not happen when you make links within Office365. What is more bewildering though is that if I change the name of the file in OneDrive, the link still works in Canvas



My Big Worries

These two issues represent a SERIOUS concern for me and my staff going forward with Office365 in terms of additional workload. We are approaching the end of the year and updating/transferring of courses - what is going to happen to all this work done with the LTI?


I don't understand why the links work in this way - is this also the same for those with the Google integration?


I am also really concerned that all this work is linked to my OneDrive account. If I leave the school then the account is closed. Are Microsoft and Canvas working on a solution to address this? Where is the Sharing feature?


Am I doing something wrong, is there a way this will work?