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Microsoft 365 at RWTH Aachen University

May 13th, 2022 | by
Smartphone with Microsoft 365 Apps

Source: Eigene Darstellung

Meetings with colleagues, joint coffee breaks, self-organization during studies and exchange with fellow students – all of this would not have been so easy since spring 2020 at the latest without progressive digitization and continuous and flexible adaptation to the circumstances.

Whether in teaching, research, studying or everyday work – without the right tools, communication and collaboration between members of RWTH Aachen University is significantly more difficult in times of home office and distance learning.

From presence to online

Immediately after the changeover of operations at RWTH Aachen University from presence to online, the Microsoft (MS) Teams cloud platform was made available to employees for use as a web and desktop application for digital collaboration between colleagues in the form of chat, telephone and video conferences on 03.04.2020.

This was followed by the Microsoft 365 offer for all students at RWTH Aachen University on September 23, 2020. The Microsoft products contained therein were made available as web applications for voluntary and free use within the framework of studies for the creation of various contents, self-organization and communication.

Two groups, two tenants, one Microsoft 365 offer 

On 01.05.2021, the Microsoft Federal Contract 3.0 came into force – and with it, the previous licensing models for Microsoft applications were changed.
At RWTH Aachen University, a distinction is made between two groups of people: employees and students. Each of these groups has its own tenant – a closed area in which the groups of people can work among themselves: Employees the M365-Tenant and Students the Students-Tenant.

Communication and collaboration between the two groups is still possible to facilitate not only the exchange among students, but also between employees and students.
External parties have the opportunity to be invited as guests to a tenant and to work together with the members.

The Students-Tenant for students

Which applications are available?

In addition to the familiar Office applications Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint, students at RWTH Aachen University also have access to OneNote, OneDrive, SharePoint and Microsoft Teams, for example. Since the Microsoft license change in May 2021, these applications can now also be used locally as a desktop application on the computer in addition to the web version.

How can the offer be made use of?

As soon as the status “Student RWTH” is active in the Identity Management, you are entitled to use this offer. In order to do so, students first have to actively agree to the terms of use of RWTH Aachen University and to the transfer of personal data to Microsoft. Of course, this is done on a voluntary basis. This consent is given by checking the appropriate box in the IdM Selfservice. After 24 hours, the synchronization of the data is completed and a login is possible. Separate access data are not necessary at this point.

How do I log in?

The login to the corresponding application is done via “something@students.rwth-aachen.de” and not (!) via the RWTH e-mail address. The word “something” in the login name actually means that it is irrelevant what is entered before the “@”. What is important at this point is the correct domain “@students.rwth-aachen.de”.

This is followed by an automatic redirection to the RWTH Single Sign-On. After entering the personal access data, there is nothing to prevent you from successfully logging in and using the Microsoft 365 applications.

The M365-Tenant for employees

Which applications are available?

Just in time for the start of the summer semester 2022, the range of functions for employees, scholarship holders and members of Department 10 (FB10) has been expanded.
In addition to Microsoft Teams (telephone, video and chat function), OneNote and the Office applications Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint are now available for local use on official devices.

How can the offer be taken up?

A Microsoft account is automatically created for the authorized group of persons as soon as the corresponding status [employee RWTH, members of Department 10 (FB10) or scholarship holders] is available. This status is obtained from the Human Resources Department via the corresponding ConnectMe coupon. Important: The synchronization of the data can take up to 48 hours after redemption.

How to log in?

The login to the corresponding application is done via “something@m365.rwth-aachen.de” and not (!) via the RWTH or institute email address. The word “something” in the login name actually means that it is irrelevant what is entered before the “@”. What is important at this point is the correct domain “@m365.rwth-aachen.de”.

This is followed by an automatic forwarding to the RWTH Single Sign-On. After entering the personal access data, there is nothing to prevent you from successfully logging in and using the Microsoft 365 applications.

Student assistants

Student assistants are a special case in this construct: If they study at RWTH Aachen University, they have both the status “Student RWTH” and “Employee RWTH”. Students from other universities, such as the FH Aachen, who work at RWTH Aachen University, only have the status “Employee RWTH” and thus belong to the group of employees.

If the status “Employee RWTH” is not (yet) available, then the students have to contact the Human Resources Department so that the so-called ConnectMe coupon is issued. After redeeming the coupon and up to 48 hours of synchronization time, an account will automatically be created for you on the M365-Tenant (for employees).

Thus, student assistants will ultimately also have the opportunity to use the offerings from both tenants. However, separate use of the two Microsoft accounts is necessary for the respective purpose: For business activities, only the access via the M365 tenant has to be used.

Collaborative work via Microsoft Teams

Employees and students

Collaboration between employees and students (no student assistants!) via MS Teams requires a special invitation procedure. In this process, students from the Students-Tenant are invited directly to a team as guests of employees via the Microsoft account name (CloudID).

Guests in M365 and Students-Tenant

Guests (= RWTH external persons) can also be invited to a team for collaborative work – regardless of whether they are within the M365 tenant or the Students tenant. For this purpose, the e-mail address (no RWTH e-mail address!) of the guest is sufficient.

RWTH members in the external tenant

RWTH members have the possibility to be accepted into an external tenant in MS Teams (e.g. from cooperation partners or companies). Here, as well, a special procedure for the invitation is necessary. The employees and students are invited from the respective tenant directly via the Microsoft account name (CloudID) as guests of external persons to an external team.

Add-ins/Plug-ins

The installation of add-ins/plug-ins for the mentioned applications is currently not possible.

The scope of Microsoft Teams and the Office 365 applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook) as well as their add-ins is continuously assessed by the IT Center and RWTH Aachen University and checked for data protection compliance in each case.

Documentation and support

Detailed information and instructions about Microsoft 365 at RWTH Aachen University can be found in our documentation portal IT Center Help. Some questions and answers about M365 at RWTH Aachen University are already available in the FAQ section.

For the admins of the respective facilities and institutes of the RWTH Aachen, further documentation has been summarized in a handout.
At this point we refer to the RWTH circular (accessible from the RWTH network or via VPN) dated 07.04.2022 (only available in German).

For questions about the service and the registration process, the IT-ServiceDesk is available. Answers to the applications and their functions can also be found in the Microsoft documentation and forums.

 

Responsible for the content of this article is Nicole Kaminski.

 

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