Useful feature on Office 365
Everyone has a different level of expertise and comfort with technology. Some people prefer pen and paper, while others keep up with multiple tech blogs to learn about new features. No matter how much someone might have used a technology, it’s easy to miss fun and useful features because people typically learn software as they need to adopt it and then stop exploring.
Monty Kaplan is one of the technologists at EdTech, and he is constantly demonstrating cool features that we never knew existed on software that we use every day. Most recently he presented the Office 365 People tool, another little-known feature on a well-known technology.
Office 365 is capable of syncing with your Outlook, Contacts, and Calendar. It is accessible via computer, smartphone, or tablet, and you can use it to share files or communicate through messaging, video, and voice calling. You can also learn about the structure of an institution and its people. Searching for a staff member in the People tool shows the structure and relationships of their department and its context within BU. People can add a photo of themselves, their role at BU, contact information, current projects, skills, and interests/hobbies. Some even post blog posts straight to their profile page.
The People tool is useful for learning more about a department’s structure, finding out if someone has skills that could be useful for a project, or learning a bit of background information about them before an interview or meeting. It helps people connect and understand how they can contribute to each others’ projects.
Students use Facebook all the time to connect with each other for academic purposes. The reason for its effectiveness is its universality – that almost every person has a profile picture and some basic information about them.
This People tool can be incredibly useful, but becomes more effective as more people input information into the system. The People tool takes the goals of Facebook and LinkedIn and unites them, but only requires minimal, basic information. It is not intended to include huge amounts of information or entail extensive time commitments to create a profile. Most faculty and staff are likely already in the BU system, and someone taking a few minutes to upload a profile picture and describe their role or skills can strengthen the information network on the university’s human assets.