Microsoft SharePoint: Online Collaboration Platform

Microsoft SharePoint: Online Collaboration Platform

Microsoft SharePoint is an online file storage, content sharing, and collaboration service available to all members of the Tufts community. SharePoint also integrates with other Microsoft services (e.g. Outlook, Teams, etc.) to make collaborating even more convenient.

SharePoint is designed around two things: working on projects with your team and sharing content with a broader group.

For both uses, you’ll store your files and content in a site, which is private by default but can be shared with other members of the Tufts community. There are two different types of SharePoint sites:

  1. You can have a team site is designed around working together on a small team, gathering all chat and email communication in a single location and storing all files and documents for team members to edit.
    • Note: If you are looking for an online collaboration space center for your team, you may want to start by using Microsoft Teams. When you create a team in Microsoft Teams, Microsoft automatically creates a corresponding SharePoint site.
  2. You can have a communication site centered around sharing finished content, such as posting news and events for your community to view.

Team sites showcase documents but communication sites prioritize being user friendly

For more details on when to use a team or communication site and the differences between them, expand the Team Site vs Communication Site: Details accordion below.

There is no limit to the number of sites you can create or be a member of:

  • Sites don’t overlap and have distinct permissions and content.
  • Each SharePoint site you own or are a part of is completely separate from all other sites.
  • When you create or upload documents, notebooks, and other content to SharePoint, you will choose what site you are part of that content should be created in or uploaded to.

SharePoint is accessed by your web browser and across Internet-enabled devices.

  1. Open an internet browser (e.g. Chrome or Firefox) and go to https://tuftscloud.sharepoint.com/_layouts/15/sharepoint.aspx
  2. A Microsoft login page will appear. Enter your Tufts email address (e.g. John.Jumbo@tufts.edu) and click Next.
    Type your Tufts email address
  3. In the Tufts login screen that appears, enter your Tufts username (e.g. jjumbo01) and password, then click Sign in. You may also be asked to complete DUO two-factor authentication.
    The normal Tufts login screen appears for Tufts credentials
  4. The Microsoft SharePoint start page will load in your browser.
    The start page lists all your sites
  1. Open an internet browser (e.g. Chrome or Firefox) and go to https://www.office.com/apps
  2. A Microsoft login page will appear. Enter your Tufts email address (e.g. John.Jumbo@tufts.edu) and click Next.
    Type your Tufts email address
  3. In the Tufts login screen that appears, enter your Tufts username (e.g. jjumbo01) and password, then click Sign in. You may also be asked to complete DUO two-factor authentication.
    The normal Tufts login screen appears for Tufts credentials
  4. The Microsoft Apps start page will load in your browser, listing all Microsoft Applications in alphabetical order. Click SharePoint.
    Applications are listed alphabetically
  5. The Microsoft SharePoint start page will load in your browser.
    The start page lists all your sites

There are two types of SharePoint sites you can create, which have different purposes:

  • A team site is designed for file storage and easy collaboration between team members to work on projects, edit files, and share information.
    • Example: A researcher on a small Jumbo project team might create a team site where their small research team can store and edit each others’ notebooks and documents.
    • Do you know you want a team site? Jump to Team Sites
  • A communication site is designed to share news or information out to a broad audience, such as university-wide resources, while only a small group of members can create and edit content. 
    • Example: A communications administrator might create a communications site called “Jumbo News and Upcoming Events” where the entire Tufts community can check for news and upcoming events.
    • Do you know you want a communication site? Jump to Communication Sites.

You can create and store content in either a team site or a communication site, but how you use them and how SharePoint designs them are very different. Each site you make will have a specific link that those with access to a site can use, usually starting with https://tuftscloud.sharepoint.com/sites/ and ending with your site name. By default, the link won’t work for anyone not on your team.

Distinctions

Team Site

Communication Site

By design, who can create, upload, edit, and view documents?

All team members that are part of the site.

If needed, you can grant explicit permissions for individuals outside of your team to view or edit specific documents.

A small number of team members can create, upload, and edit documents.

A much larger number of people can be invited to view the site contents.

Main purpose

When your team needs to work together collectively on a project

When you need to showcase or share content for others to view

When you create a site, what comes with it?

Everything a project team might need: Microsoft Planner board, Microsoft OneNote notebook, an email address for the group, shared calendar and mailbox, opportunity to connect with a Microsoft Team

Nothing – you only have the communication site.

Example Site Scenario

If you are a researcher on a small project team called Jumbo Training, create a team site where your team can store and edit all the notebooks and documents you are working on together.

A site for you to publish and showcase your finished research for the entire scientific community to view.

Sharing the Site

Your team members could bookmark this link to quickly jump to the site when they want to work on your project.

You would leave the default permissions so that the link won’t work for anyone outside of your team.

You could post the link on your school or department’s social media page.

You would set the link to be usable by anyone at Tufts to view your site.

For a detailed breakdown of team sites versus communication sites, see the Team Site vs Communication Site page in the Microsoft community documentation, or watch the YouTube video What is SharePoint and How Do I Use It?

OneDrive and SharePoint are both applications offered by Microsoft that are designed for you to store files, documents, and folders online. While they look very similar, the key difference is in what they’re used for. Usually, OneDrive is for documents that are primarily yours, and SharePoint is for documents you are going to share.

  • OneDrive, in essence, replaces the "My Documents" folder on your computer.
    • If you’re working on a file by yourself or drafting something you aren’t ready to share, you’ll save it in OneDrive.
    • Unless you specify otherwise, only you can view and edit your documents in OneDrive.
  • A SharePoint site is designed to hold documents that you will work on or share with other people. If you have a team working on a project together, where documents will be co-owned and edited by the team, not just you, you’ll want to use SharePoint.
    • All team members in a SharePoint site have access to all files in the site, including access to files you upload – you do not need to explicitly go through every single file you upload to SharePoint and invite the same person to each file. Just upload your files, and all members of the SharePoint site will be able to access them.
    • If you have documents you want a large number of people to view, such as finished department policies, you’ll want to host those documents in SharePoint.

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Distinction OneDrive SharePoint
What is it designed for? Your own documents – private or personal files, like the "My Documents" folder on your computer.

Documents designed to be shared, such as files that a team of people will all own and work on together, or finished department policies for the whole department to view.

Who can view or edit files you upload or create? Files you upload are private to just you unless you specify otherwise. All team members in a SharePoint site have access to all files in the site. Team members can access to files you upload or create, and you can access files your team uploads or creates.
Who can invite others to view or edit files you upload or create? By default, only you to can invite other people to view or edit a specific file or folder. By default, you or any team member can invite other people to view or edit a specific file or folder.
Which documents are stored from the Microsoft Teams application? Files shared in private chats are added to your OneDrive. Files shared in a Microsoft Team Team chat are stored in SharePoint for all team members to view and edit.

Tip: OneDrive and SharePoint have so many similarities because OneDrive is actually a SharePoint site that’s owned only by you.

For more information on SharePoint versus OneDrive, watch this video from jumpto365: Which tool when for files: SharePoint, OneDrive, or Microsoft Teams