Tracking Office365 ProPlus Activation In Your School


I confess that I’m a bit of a reporting nerd when it comes to technology. I love to see a great dashboard of data revealing how my network is performing, where users are consuming content and what devices they are connecting. I’ve blogged previously about the rapid improvements in the Office365 Admin Reporting using PowerBI to give insights into consumption of the various components of Office365 in your organisation.

Further to this, I’ve recently had a number of conversations with school leaders and IT Managers who are interested in seeing how their users are downloading the Office365 ProPlus applications and what devices they are installing them on.

Getting Office365 ProPlus Download

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The portal will automatically detect if the user is on a Windows or MacOS device and provide the correct download package. The 32bit version of Office365 ProPlus is downloaded by default. Alternatively, they can use the browser based online version of the Office Apps as seen in the tiles above.

  • Students on Android or iOS tablets and smartphones can download and activate their apps from their respective app stores.
  • Students and faculty members then activate their copy of Office365 ProPlus when they first sign into it by entering their school email address and password.

Tracking Office365 ProPlus Usage

The following steps will show you how to get greater visibility into who is downloading the applications and what type of devices they are using them on. To do the following, you must be an administrator user of your Office365 Tenant.

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  • For this purpose, you’ll be looking to see just the Office365 ProPlus Activations so look for the tile in the reports that looks like this and click on it:

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  • The default view takes you to “Activations” i.e. the numbers of devices (computers, smart phones, tablets) Office365 has been activated on. Many people do not know that a single user can activate Office365 ProPlus on up to five computers (Windows and MacOS), 5 smartphones (Windows10 Phone, iOS and Android) and 5 Tablets (iOS and Android). For families with students in school with a ProPlus license this represents awesome value.
  • In my demo tenant above you can see some data with test users activating ProPlus on various devices and this can also be exported into Excel if you want to do further analysis or perhaps import into PowerBI and combine with other reports you may already have.
  • The final report within the Office Activations Reporting section is the “users” and looks like this:

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  • The purpose of the above report is to allow an O365 Administrator to get insights into how many of their users are actually downloading and activating Office365. In my demo tenant above there are not many activations which makes sense since most of the users are test accounts. Ideally, in most organisations this should be pretty close to 1:1 ratio of activations vs assigned licenses to ensure they are maximizing the value of their software.

Why Does This Matter?

Quite aside from being a data nerd and loving cool dashboards, the above reporting is important for schools to be monitoring and taking action on for a number of reasons. Whilst many schools do benefit from National or State level agreements to provide ProPlus for “free” to school students and faculty members, others such as Independent and International Schools typically need to be buying these licenses themselves.  To measure the Return On Investment (ROI), individual schools should be tracking this data and actively promoting the download links for students in ways such as including links in school newsletters or download banners on the school Intranet / Website.

Pedagogically, this is important as well. If the school is expecting students to be developing their digital literacy skills and submitting class and homework with the correct tools the school uses (OneNote, Word, Excel, PowerPoint etc), then being able to check whether students have actually downloaded and activated the applications is important. There may be legitimate barriers as to why this has not occurred such as bandwidth limitations at home or the students simply do not know the correct location to get started. Schools can do quite a bit to help their students and faculty members and the MSAU Education team have done a fantastic job collating resources such as email templates to students/parents, Office365 Training Resources and even fun O365 Octopus sticker templates at this link here:

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I particularly like the Octopus Stickers at a Primary School Level as this could be a fun incentive for students to download and activate Office365 ProPlus on their devices – once they have done this they receive a free sticker from the school to put on their device and help personalise it in a fun way:

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Office365 Octopus Sticker Templates could be used as a great giveaway incentive for younger students

Furthermore, because of the large number of devices students can install and activate Office365 ProPlus on, it really helps ensure equity of access to the tools for learning. Practically, this means it could be activated on the home desktop computer in the lounge so homework can be completed on that device. If the family only has a tablet at home and no desktop computer, the student can still activate the tools they need on that device as well. Importantly, this means the student’s learning can continue without the need for the family to purchase their own copy of Office365. This represents a real financial saving for families with students in schools where ProPlus downloads are available.

Finally, as a former K-12 ICT Director, it was important for me to know what sort of devices our students were using, both on the College network and at home. We could use a range of different tools to try and triangulate this data (wifi access data and firewall content reports were two common ways), but I found the Office365 Activation data incredibly useful to see the range of devices our students were working on. It can actually be useful in either confirming or dispelling “hunches” and help answer questions such as “do our students reallydo a lot of their school work on mobile devices?” An easy way to check would be to run the above report and filter on mobile / tablet activations. I encourage you to give it a go – you might be surprised by what you see!

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