Office 365 Education updates include preview of PLC Groups and more

Microsoft has announced plans to update Office 365 Education subscriptions with a number of new features, including a preview of PLC Groups to help teachers share work with each other.

In a blog post (opens in new tab), Microsoft explains what PLC (professional learning communities) Groups will bring to Office 365 Education:

Office 365 Education users who are faculty can now create PLC groups, similar to any other Office 365 group, and access shared conversation spaces, file space, OneNote notebooks and calendars. PLC groups also integrate directly with Microsoft Planner, released in general availability with Office 365 earlier this month.

Educators who want to sign up for the PLC Groups preview can do so at Microsoft's website (opens in new tab). Another new feature relates to, which lets users create an online portfolio of various Office documents and files that can be shared with others. Microsoft stated:

We heard from teachers about how some of their content is not quite ready to be shared outside of their school or district, many of which have Office 365 Education as a collaborative platform. Keeping things a little more private sometimes makes students and teachers feel safer about distributing their work. Because of this, today we are announcing the Organization Visibility feature—giving you more granular control over who can see your class content. With Organization Visibility, only people who sign in with an Office 365 work or school account from the same organization (i.e., school or district) can view your content.

More features have been added to Microsoft Forms, which allows teachers to quickly create quizzes and surveys that can be sent to parents and students:

The first is auto-grading, meaning teachers don't need to download an add-in or do any complicated workarounds to do grading. The second is real-time, personalized feedback, which allows teachers to provide feedback to students for each answer and question.

John Callaham
  • I'd love to be able to use these new educational features with my organization's Office 365 account, but they're not available for those of us with Enterprise or Non-Profit plans. There's also no supported way of switching your plan type, even if you're an educational institution, except deleting your account entirely and creating a new one. As there's no way to back up and restore Office 365 data, that means every mailbox, group, OneDrive file, SharePoint site, and Skype setting will have to be recreated manually. They recommend one week of downtime, which is basically impossible for any company.  I've asked a number of people at Microsoft about it and none of them can explain why there's no option to change an account type or make features available to other accounts. It's simply "not supported." As a result, it's no easier to implement Microsoft's Classroom tools than it would be for Google Apps for Education. It's extremely frustrating.
  • This mostly looks like OneNote and Groups, both available in the regular 365... they're just calling it something else. Edit: Also, you can change plan type easily.  You just change the plan type under subscriptions.  If you have questions, call support and they'll talk you through the steps in minutes.
  • No you can't. I've spoken to a number of tech people, their bosses, and my local Microsoft representative. There is no way to add Education licenses to a non-profit subscription, even if you remove the non-profit status. The official line is "backup all your data, delete your account, and create a new one." That's impossible since there is no backup tool. And even if there were, you'd be talking about days of downtime. It's not just OneNote and groups. There are new Forms that allow you to create quizzes or sheets to collect data. And there's the Classroom that allows you to track assignments and grade them in one dashboard. Using the OneNote plug-in without it generates LMS error messages with a number of features.
  • Perhaps contact Rajesh Jha and request this at the top?
  • I'd love to, but I can't seem to find contact info for him. His only social media presence is LinkedIn and his email is not accessible from there.