Office 365 is building integration into educational open source software

Kareem Anderson

Image Credit: Office Mix

After a few decades behind the iron wall of anti-open source sentiments, it would appear Microsoft is finally open (all pun intended) to the benefits and extended possibilities open source implementations have to offer. Last Friday at Microsoft’s Open Tech, the Office team announced a handful of open source integrations. Among the new integrations were Open edX and Office 365, and an update to the open source Moodle integration with Office 365.

Today, the Office team is going into further detail on their blog about how those integrations fit into Microsoft’s broader trend of more openness and interoperability.

Whether you’re a fourth grader at your local elementary school, a forty-year-old working on an evening MBA, or a fourth year associate enrolled in training at your company, there’s a good chance that you use a popular LMS (Learning Management System) or MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) platform such as Moodle, Open edX or others for submitting homework and managing your education. There’s also a good chance that you use Microsoft Office 365—the world’s leading productivity suite—for creating content and collaborating with others.

Image Credit: edX

With regards to the Office Teams new integrations, single sign-on (SSO) is what will help instructors and students navigate between Office and the new integrations without a login request each time. Using Log in with Office 365, users become authenticated in a singular experience for Moodle or Open edX while still retaining full access to Office 365 documents and services. The Office team is further streamlining their process by allowing teachers and students the option to put Moodle or Open edX into the My Apps launcher in Office 365. With this addition, users LMS or MOOC is now just a click away when working within Office 365.

The use of SSO is backed by Azure Active Directory and uses the OAuth2 standard as well as OpenID Connect (OIDC). The Office team went a step further and enabled a variety integrations with Calendar and OneNote into both Open edX and Moodle. Using the Calendar API as well as the OneNote API, students can now choose to synchronize their calendars with Outlook to Moodle’s course schedules seamlessly. The integration results in real-time updates and notifications on class scheduling if need be.

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While the Office team continues to find many benefits using open source, they also wanted to contribute to the open source effort. According to the team, “OIDC support has been implemented for Moodle and Open edX in a manner that allows use by any OIDC provider—not just Office 365 and Azure AD. We’ve done the same for OEmbed support, so you can use the new OEmbed plugin for Moodle to embed an Office Mix, or to embed any other OEmbed source such as YouTube, Slideshare, and many others.”

For those interested, the Moodle plugins have been available since January for Office 365. The plugins include SSO, OneNote submissions and feedback, OneDrive integration, Outlook calendar sync and Office Mix (OEmbed) integrations. As for Open edX, integrations should become available in early July. With the release of Open edX “Cypres”, users will find integrations that include SSO and OneDrive integration.