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Understanding the Basics of Office 365
  • Post type:
  • Knowledge
  • Posted by:
  • Sarah Chao
  • Published on:
  • 7/17/2017
  • Suitable for:
  • Students; Teachers; Staff
  • Level of difficulty:
  • Basic
  • Office tool:
  • General Usage; OneDrive; Word; PowerPoint; Excel; OneNote
Last modified: 9/21/2018 4:47 PM by Sarah Chao

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​"Office 365 let you access, collaborate with others and work on your documents anywhere​"​​​​​ is the main takeaway of this post about this service. You are no longer bound to the workstation at your desk, and can take your work on the go. 

Office 365 is a subscription-based service that gives you access to Microsoft Office tools as well a number of additional applications, even when you do not have the necessary tools installed on your device.​​ ​Employees and students of the district are provided free access to Office 365, as part of the licensing agreement between Microsoft and the Vancouver School Board.​​

Logging Into Office 365 

This post is going to introduce you to the essential tools that you can start gettin​g familiar with, after you log into​ Office 36​5 (see the step-by-step instructions​) with your V​​SB email​ and arrive on the Office 365 landing page​.

The number of tools available varies with different level of users, but you will definitely have the essentials like Outlook​, OneDrive, OneNote and the Office tools ​​ from your Office 365 landing page.


Getting back to the Office 365 landing page

​Whenever you want to get back to this​ landing page, you can either:

  • Click on the​​ Vancouver School Board logo in the top ribbon

  • Click on the "waffle icon" and then select "Office ​365  " from the Quick App Launcher


Quick ​​app launcher to other tools

​Other than getting back to the Office 365 landing page​, you can also quickly get to other tools by clicking on the "waffle icon" (also known as the app launcher) in the upper left corner anywhere when you are in Office 365.


  1. The "waffle icon" can be accessed anywhere
  2. The "  ​​​ icon" will let you open the tool in a new tab 
  3. If you don't see an app, click o​n "All apps" to find it

​Tools indication & Search

​ Next to the VSN logo in the top blue ribbon, it always gives indication as to which tool space you are currently at. When searching in that tool space is available, you will also see it in the upper left corner underneath the "waffle icon". For example, the following screenshot indicates that you can​ search for anything in the OneDrive space.​​​


​​Starting from August 20​17, you can also access your Outlook email from logging into Office 365. With this latest updates, it allows you to quickly reply to email and work on documents all in the same place. For more information regarding this service, please check out the details around VSB email changes.


With nowadays technology, working while on-the-go and with others, OneDrive​ in Office 365 (comes with 1TB of storage) fits the needs to:​

  1. Access work files that are normally stored on shared drive, which you cannot access outside of the VSB network
  2. Send large files, that are too ​large to attach to emails
  3. Share a number of files or folders with people, without multiple emails​
If you have ever used any other cloud storage services (ex. Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.), the shift over to OneDrive will make sense because:
  • It can replace your H:Drive and allow you access to your work files anywhere

  • Searching for keyword in file names as well as files content is possible

  • ​​You can more securely share documents with other VSB staff and control access permission anytime

  • Monitor the activity of a file during collaborations

  • Sharing large number of files will be a breeze

  • ​​OneDrive app is available for Androids as well as iPhones

To see OneDrive in action, you can start by creating a file and sharing it​ with a colleague. Similarly, you can also create a folder that has multiple files and then share it​​ with the same steps.


OneNote is a great tool for taking​ notes during presentations or meetings. It has "sections" and "pages" for you to easily organize your notes without having to create multiple files. It is also very suitable for brainstorming ideas and discussions with your peers. To​ access any of your existing OneNote, you can simply​​ click on the tile from the home page after logging into Office 365. However, you must go to where you want your file to be stored first before creating a new OneNote file. ​ 

​Office Tools

​These are your typical Word, PowerPoint and Excel that you are already very familiar with when it comes to the desktop experience, except now you can also use them in the browser as long as you have an internet connection

The main benefits of creating your files and working in Office 365 are:

  • You are no longer confined to just working on computers
  • Content and file names are both searchable
  • Great for getting started on files or making quick edits to files
  • No need to email files back and forth, ​as edits are updated live for everyone

Please note that there are missing functions when working with the online Office tools, but the great thing is that you can have the option to work on the file on the desktop too.​

​Th​e table below compares their similarities and differences:

Via Microsoft Office
Via Office 365 in the browser​
Creation & Access
​Only on computers/laptops with Office installed
​Any device with access to internet
File Location
No default location of the new file, user can select where to save the file on their computers/laptops
​Default location ​of new file if created from the Word/PowerPoint/Excel app tile is into your OneDrive
​Saving & Editing
Edits on file need to be manually saved from time to time when working**;
You must edit on devices that have Office installed
​Edits on the file are automatically saved as you are working in the browser;
You can edit on any devices with access to internet
​Attach the document to an email;
Put the file in a USB;
Print out a hard copy 
​Send a "Share" link;
Control​ the number of users who have access to the file
Other users must have Microsoft Office installed on their computers/laptops in order to edit the file; One person might need to consolidate all the edits and then email the versions back and forth
​Users who you've shared the link with can edit the file directly in the browser, regardless of whether they have Microsoft Office installed on their device; No need to email different versions of the file back and forth

**Only with Office 2016 downloaded from Office 365, "AutoSave" is available.​

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