Recently, a couple of people reached out to me asking about my engagement in the Microsoft 365 portion of the Microsoft stack of products. They asked how I went about learning the platform and, in particular, what I did to get started.

The common theme was that there is so much to learn, where does one even begin!? It's a fair statement - there IS a lot of ground to cover!

I decided this would make an interesting blog entry for anyone who might be wondering the same thing. But be warned, this is not an exhaustive list. That said, I do hope this provides a foundation or starting point for those who have an interested in exploring all that the platform has to offer.

First, let's ensure we're on the same page. Microsoft 365 contains a significant breadth of tools and services. It now encompasses Office 365, and essentially focusses on the business application productivity of users (but don't be confused - there is a "home" offering for Microsoft 365 as well!).

For the purposes of this article, the context is that of a business use case. Those who asked the question of me initially were asking because they believed there were various applications to their respective company, hence their desire to learn more.

How to Start Learning Microsoft 365 Tools

1. Research

Look up the various license offerings and the products that come with it. For me, a huge part of understanding the options was digging into products like SharePoint, Teams, and OneDrive. Just honing in on those alone provides plenty to explore.

I opted to document what each tool was for, and did some research into use case examples from users around the world (look at LinkedIn or Twitter for insights into real world examples). From there, I started to understand how people were using each tool.

2. Start a Trial

You can get a free trial of the applications here.

3. Make a List (Good luck keeping it short!)

For each tool, I started with the basics by reviewing Microsoft documentation. I also looked up various learning paths from Microsoft Learn. This helped me expand my understanding of the various features of each tool.

4. Learn From Others

I had the good fortune of a colleague who had extensive experience in several of the tools. He took a significant amount of time to share his knowledge and structure some demos and tutorials. His insights helped me get familiar with some of the basics and then the more advanced features of Microsoft tools.

5. Be Intentional

I carved out very specific times with specific topics to focus on for my 'learning journey'. This helped me stay focused, and I tracked my progression through a simple OneNote notebook (where I also kept notes of what I'd been learning!).

How to Get Started in Your Learning Journey

I found it challenging at first to lay out what I needed to learn - after all, we don't know what we don't know! I hope the following list can provide some direction with respect to where you might want to get started.

For each one, consider the five W's (what, why, when, where, who) and of course the H (how!). A question for each:

  1. What is intent of the feature?
  2. Why would this be used?
  3. When might this be used?
  4. Where is it found?
  5. Who would use it?
  6. How is it used?

(You may have others, this is just to get your thoughts flowing!)

SharePoint

  • General Overview (what even IS SharePoint?!)
  • Sites
  • Pages
  • Lists
  • Document Libraries
  • Webparts
  • Security

Teams

  • General Overview
  • Teams
  • Channels
  • Chat & Interactions
  • Document Management
  • Apps & Integrations

Microsoft Forms

  • General Overview
  • Types of questions
  • Branching
  • Form Settings

Other Questions You Might Explore

As you can see, there is a TON to learn.

The common theme to my sentiment here is to be organized and intentional in your approach to learning. Looking for tips on how to do just that? Check out this article which touches on some tips for keeping up with application evolution and contains some suggestions on how to do so in an organized way.

I hope this provides some insight into how to approach learning some of these exceptional tools. Happy learning!