Microsoft are gearing up their push into the technology in education, or EdTech, space. The drive is three-pronged and focused on low-cost Windows PCs, further development of existing tools such as OneNote that have an education focus as well as new EdTech software. New tools and OneNote features were demonstrated at this week’s Bett Education conference held in London.
New OneNote features include being able to ‘lock’ pages to read only after notes and corrections have been made to student work. This feature will be included in Microsoft Office software updates released in coming months.
Science, tech and maths teachers will also be able to take advantage of a new integration with the free Desmos online graphing calculator which will mean interactive calculators will be available within One Note. This will mean students can plot graphs and solve a greater variety of math problems using the Microsoft Office suite.
OneNote is a particularly popular tool with teachers in the UK due to the fact that it supports the Capita SIMS school information management system which is the system used by the majority of State-funded schools in the country.
In addition to new OneNote features, a new integration between Microsoft’s Stream video hosting and streaming service and PowerPoint was demonstrated at the Bett conference. Users will now be able to create and publish multimedia school projects in the chat-based classroom collaboration and management Office 365 app.
Eran Megiddo, corporate vice president of Education at Microsoft explained:
“A teacher can use PowerPoint to build immersive class content (that includes ink, animations, and audio/video narrations), add Microsoft Forms–based quizzes, publish it to their Stream channel as a video, and have it surface in their Teams class to distribute to their students. Furthermore, Stream will also add automatic captioning to the videos to make them accessible to all learners.”
Another EdTech development Microsoft is set to launch in February is one that will probably excite students themselves more. The company now owns Minecraft, the hugely popular game in which players create and explore virtual worlds. A new education focused Minecraft Chemistry Resource Pack will be released. Teachers and parents will be delighted at the opportunity for students to learn elements, compounds and other fundamentals of the science branch within a Minecraft environment. It will certainly make getting kids off of playing Minecraft and onto their homework a whole lot easier!