Office 365 Groups


Office 365 supports user-created groups which provide collaboration tools for multiple users, such as file storage space and a group e-mail distribution list.  This information is intended to introduce basic aspects of creating these groups, adding members and file sharing basics.

This is an article that addresses in part HOW data sharing is accomplished, but does not emphasize the restrictions regarding WHO college data may be shared with, WHAT data may be shared, or WHY and WHEN sharing may take place.  

Inportant Note: There are both Public and Private Groups. Information about configuring these types are described below. Make sure you do not create a Public Group if you will be sharing sensitive, private or confidential college information.   

How To: Create an Office 365 Group

  1. Login to your BC Email  Bellevue College Email

  2. Once you are connected, click on the apps launcher graphic that looks like a waffle in the application’s title bar (Image 1[color may vary]). App Launcher / waffle icon Image 1

  3. This opens up access to all of the built-in applications to which you have access in O365.

  4. Click on the icon labeled People 

  5. In the left side navigation pane of the screen is a down-pointing arrow labeled Groups

  6. Clicking on the arrow displays: all groups you are already a member of, a right-pointing arrow labeled Discover which will allow you to explore all groups that already exist for the college, and a plus sign labeled Create.

  7. Click on the plus sign + next to Groups to create a new Group OR look on toolbar to create New Group

    • There are currently two types of O365 groups that can be created: a Standard group or a Professional Learning Community (PLC) group. The PLC group is a very specialized kind of group for a specific purpose which will not be addressed at this time.

  8. Click on Next under a Standard group 

The form for creating the group allows you to:

  1. Choose a name for the group – Name it something unique that makes sense for its purpose. Naming a group with a generic name or a name that other groups may use will make it more difficult for users to find if searching for your group.

  2. Add a description of the group – This is also used to help users identify the purpose for the group.

  3. Important: Identify the level of privacy the group should have – This is a key decision that is affected by the purpose of the group. Because the default level of privacy built into O365 is that groups are PUBLIC, you must always remember to make a purposeful decision to change it to PRIVATE if necessary.

    • You may make the group Public if you are not intending to store or share any sensitive or confidential college data within the file section of the group or communicate such information with any members of the group.

      • In addition to assigned group members, the contents contained within Public groups are also visible to any user who can access the college’s O365 groups, which includes all students and all non-employee visitors who may have been given permission to O365.

      • Public groups are generally used to collaborate with others in non-sensitive ways, such as classroom exercises, generic office matters, etc.

    • You must make the group Private in all situations where:

      • Protected college data, such as FERPA related or HIPAA-related data will be stored within the group structure, or

      • Protected data is included in messages to group members, or

      • In all cases where you are collaborating and sharing any college data with any user who is not a holder of a Bellevue College login/e-mail account, no matter how sensitive or not the college data accessible through the group may or may not be.

    • When a Private group has been created, it is still possible for the group owner and members to share group files and folders with individuals who are not members of the group, but such sharing can be very controlled and deliberate.

One of the most powerful features of O365 groups is the capability of adding as members and collaborating with external BC partners, but the creator of a group that shares group files or group access with an external partner is still responsible at all times for the security of college information and data.

In some cases, a college Data Sharing Agreement (DSA), a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), or legally-binding contract must be in place before external users may be added to O365 groups which have access or potential access to sensitive and confidential college information.

  1. Choose the language for group-related notifications – Generally this will be the default language.

Once the form is satisfactorily complete, click on Create at the top-left of the form to create the group

How To: Add members

Once an O365 group has been created, the group owner will be prompted to add members to the group.

  1. Typing within the Add Members dialog box will bring up lists of BC users or your personal contacts who match what is typed

    • Members are added one at a time to a list below the dialog box by clicking on them or can be removed from that list by clicking on the X next to their name.

    • If you are adding an external user to the group that is not already in your contacts, you must type the full e-mail address of the individual. O365 will identify the address as belonging to a guest and will warn you that guests will have the same access to group contact as any other member.

      • Creators of groups are responsible for updating the group membership and should especially remember to remove permissions for external members once they are no longer required to have access.

  2. After identifying each new member, click on Add at the top-left of the form to finish the process of adding them to the group

  3. Group members automatically can view and create group conversations, copy and edit files, and access calendar items

  4. All group members also have access to the Microsoft Planner application and the Microsoft Notebook application associated with the group

How To: Share a file

Though group members automatically have access, files stored in O365 group folders can also be shared with any individual college O365 user or group who is not already a member of the group (they will have to sign in to access the file):

  1. In the group’s file list, right-click a document, and then select either Share or Get a link

    • When the Invite people tab is selected:

      • Enter the name or email address of the individual.

      • Choose whether the user Can edit the document or Can view the document from the drop-down list

      • Add a message, if desired

      • Uncheck the Send an email invitation checkbox if you do not want to send an email to the user to let them know the document has been shared. Otherwise, keep it checked.

      • Click on the Share button

    • When the Get a link tab is selected:

      • Choose from the drop-down list:

        • Edit link – Bellevue College account required – college account holders can edit, copy, or download the document.

        • View link – Bellevue College account required – college account holders can only view, copy, or download the document, but not edit it.

      • Click on the Create button to generate a link that can be shared via e-mail. Recipients who are college account holders will be able to click on the link to access the file.

        • Restricted link – Only specific people can open this link – also produces a link that can be shared in an e-mail. When a user clicks on the link, they must request access to the file. When they do, an e-mail message is automatically sent to the group owner, who can Accept or Decline the request.

        • This allows the group owner to only allow specific BC account holders access to the file and to control that access.

How To: Share a folder

If group files have been organized into folders, they can be shared as well, following essentially the same process as sharing files (above):

  1. In the file list, right-click a folder, or select a folder, and then select Share

  2. Invite people by typing their names or EMail addresses

  3. Choose whether you wish to Share everything in this folder, even items with unique permissions or not

  4. Choose whether to Send an email invitation to each invitee or not

  5. Select Share.

If you have chosen to do so, the people you share with get an email with a link to your folder. Otherwise their permissions will be configured, but not accessible to them unless your group is a public group or you send them a separate link.

Print Article


Article ID: 24374
Tue 2/7/17 10:40 AM
Mon 5/11/20 11:48 AM