Modern classroom collaboration with Office 365 for Education

By Kirk Koenigsbauer as written on
At Microsoft, our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. We believe that education unlocks potential and that technology can play a decisive role in helping the students of today create the world of tomorrow. At our event in New York City earlier today, we announced a set of new strategic investments in education, including exciting new innovations in Office 365 for Education and a preview of Office in the Microsoft Store for Education.
New innovations in Office 365 for Education
With more than 100 million active users, Office 365 empowers individuals, teams and entire organizations to communicate and collaborate. Office 365 for Education builds on this foundation and adds education-specific innovations like the OneNote Class Notebook and Learning Tools—creating the most complete, intelligent and secure service for teaching and learning. It offers the broadest and deepest toolkit for content creation, personalized learning and modern classroom collaboration. And best of all, Office 365 for Education is free for students and teachers!
In March, we released Microsoft Teams, a chat-based workspace, as the newest addition to Office 365. And at our event earlier today, we introduced new classroom experiences in Teams—new features that make Teams in Office 365 for Education the digital hub for teachers and students. These new innovations are in limited preview today and will be broadly available this summer.

The new classroom experiences in Teams will help teachers manage their daily workflow more easily than ever before. Using Teams, they can quickly and efficiently create classes with automatically populated student rosters from their school information system; share files and teaching materials; make announcements; divide the class into project groups and monitor progress; create, distribute and grade quizzes; deliver personalized learning with OneNote Class Notebooks; and distribute, collect and grade assignments. And because Teams is a digital hub, students can work together anytime, anywhere, and on any device; teachers can connect with their peers and continue their own development in Professional Learning Communities (PLCs); and school administrators can communicate and collaborate with their entire staff.
Even more exciting, the new classroom experiences will also help prepare students for the future. Anthony Newbold, principal at Bear Creek Middle School in Fairburn, Georgia, is an early adopter of Teams and helped us demonstrate the value of these new capabilities for teachers and students at our event this morning. He observed, “These new features do more than just simplify routine tasks. They also help students develop the communication and collaboration skills they’ll need to be successful in the future.” Word, Excel and PowerPoint Online already allow students to co-author documents in real time. But the rich, persistent conversation experience in Teams takes classroom collaboration to a whole new level. This running class discussion allows everyone to read, contribute and learn at their own pace—in class or at home. And moderation controls allow a teacher to easily delete a message, mute a student or pause the conversation. Teams conversations can include just about anything students need to work together, including Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents; OneNote notebooks; and Planner for group projects. And with just one click, the text-based discussion springs to life with voice and video—making it the ultimate collaboration experience.


Teams gets even better with partners, and today, we’re announcing four new integrations from education tech leaders busuu, Canvas, Flipgrid and Kahoot!. From directly within Teams, teachers can now help students learn a language with the busuu quizbot; access all their information and tools in Canvas; add video discussions with Flipgrid; and easily create and share Kahoot! learning games. All four integrations will be available this summer, and we’re committed to bringing more partners on board before the beginning of the next school year.
A preview of Office in the Microsoft Store for Education
Also at our event earlier today, Terry Myerson introduced Windows 10 S, a new Windows experience streamlined for security, simplicity and superior performance in the classroom. We’re pleased to announce a preview of Office in the Microsoft Store for Education starting in June—so teachers and students can enjoy the power of the full-featured Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps on Windows 10 S devices.
This preview of Office contains the Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps you know and trust, now delivered and updated from the Microsoft Store for Education. There are some differences in the apps that are worth calling out. The apps delivered from the Store will use new Store-based install and update technology; the apps will only be available in 32-bit format; and while web add-ins are fully supported, Office COM add-ins aren’t supported on Windows 10 S. The preview period will allow us to make sure things are running smoothly before we make Office in the Microsoft Store for Education generally available later this calendar year, and the apps will automatically be updated by the Store at that time. Additionally, it’s important to note that OneNote is already available in the Store today and the Teams app will be available in the Store in the third quarter of 2017.
Schools can install the preview on devices using the Set Up School PCs app or Microsoft Intune for Education. The preview will also be available for consumers through the Windows Store and can be activated on a Windows 10 S device with an Office 365 subscription.
We live in exciting times, and the pace of change can be breathtaking. With our new investments in education, we’re empowering the students of today to create the world of tomorrow. The new classroom experiences in Teams will not only help teachers manage their daily workflow more easily than ever before, they’ll also help students develop the communication and collaboration skills they’ll need to be successful in the future. And Windows 10 S will open a new world of possibilities in education. Combined with the power of Teams, OneNote and the full-featured Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps delivered from the Store, this new Windows experience will offer an affordable and easy-to-manage learning platform—inspired by teachers and students and streamlined for performance and simplicity.



Announcing Microsoft’s Imagine Cup 2016 World Champion!

Now in its 14th year, nothing embodies the spirit of student innovation at Microsoft more than Imagine Cup, the company’s global technology competition that aims to give young developers the opportunity to acquire new and critical technical, business and team-building skills.
Today, Team ENTy of Romania took their place as the 2016 Imagine Cup World Champion during a live broadcast and in front of hundreds of students in the Quincy Jones Performing Arts Center at Seattle’s Garfield High School.
Team ENTy’s project is an app for monitoring balance and posture. The team’s members include Flavia Oprea, Iulian-Razvan Matesica and Cristian Alexandrescu.
The final leg of the nearly year-long Imagine Cup journey began on Wednesday, when 35 teams from all over the globe competed in front of our judges for the top three spots in the Games, Innovation and World Citizenship categories. Team PH21 of Thailand in Games, Team ENTy of Romania in Innovation and Team AMANDA of Greece in World Citizenship each claimed their $50,000 category prize and then moved on to the Championship round to compete for the grand prize – the Imagine Cup crown and a private mentoring session with Satya.
Their innovations were judged by a trio of out-of-this world judges who helped to decide which of these incredible teams would be the Imagine Cup 2016 Champion, including special guest John Boyega, lead actor from Star Wars: The Force Awakens; Dr. Jennifer Tang, one-half of the duo that won the 2014 Imagine Cup Championship; and Kasey Champion, an accomplished software engineer and Computer Science Curriculum Developer at Microsoft.
During the Championship Show, it was exciting to see finalists’ reactions as they received words of encouragement and inspiration from the likes of Seattle Seahawks superstar quarterback Russell Wilson and hit recording artist and Garfield High alum Macklemore, both of whom congratulated the students on making it this far in the competition and wished them luck on their innovation journey.
During the final leg of their journey, Imagine Cup student finalists gained a number of valuable experiences – and inspired us every step of the way. They participated in a live hackathon and got to see first-hand just how powerful a few lines of code can be. The Garfield High gymnasium was transformed into a Robo World Cup Hackathon space where more than a 100 local high school students from the Boys & Girls Club and Garfield High joined Imagine Cup competitors. The hackathon, run by Microsoft Student Partners, helped students build and customize a robot kit using Windows 10 and Microsoft Azure, and tested their innovation in a World Cup style soccer style elimination tournament. The winners received an Xbox One, HP Spectre laptop and a World Cup trophy.
On behalf of Microsoft, I’d like to offer Team ENTy and all the students who dreamed big and worked so hard throughout this year’s Imagine Cup a hearty and well-deserved congratulations!
Games Category:
First Place, $50,000 prize: Team PH21 of Thailand, for its project Timelie, a stealth puzzle game.
Second Place, $10,000 prize: Team None Developers of Indonesia, for its project Froggy and the Pesticide, a game designed to raise environmental awareness.
Third Place, $5,000 prize: Team Tower Up of Brazil, for its project Sonho de Jequi, a runner game.
Innovation Category:
First Place, $50,000 prize: Team ENTy of Romania, which developed an app for monitoring balance and posture.
Second Place, $10,000 prize: Team Bit Masters of Sri Lanka, which developed a low-cost digital signage platform for advertising.
Third Place, $5,000 prize: Team HealthX of the United States, which developed a solution to help doctors and patients diagnose amblyopia.
World Citizenship Category:
First Place, $50,000 prize: Team AMANDA of Greece, which built an anti-bullying app that leverages virtual reality.
Second Place, $10,000 prize: Team Night’s Watch of Tunisia, which designed and built a smart prosthetic for individuals who have lost a limb.
Third Place, $5,000 prize: Team Insimu of Hungary, which designed a virtual reality app to improve the safe and correct medical diagnoses of patients.
Ability Award:
Microsoft Ability Boot Camp: Team BoneyCare of China, which designed an app to treat speech impairments such as stuttering.
Microsoft Student Partner of the year:
Lisa Wong of Canada, University of British Columbia



Can the Apple Watch Enhance Student Achievement?

A research team from Penn State University will try to find out how student learning can be enhanced by applying what's known about self-regulation and learning strategies.
by Jessica Hughes
We know wearable technology gets people moving by quantifying steps and calories burned. What's unknown, however, is whether -- or how -- wearable technology can influence other areas of behavior, like self-regulated learning.
One Penn State University faculty member is teaming with technology staff to seek answers, and to pursue wearable technology as a learning tool. The university's research team will be applying what's known about self-regulation and learning strategies to test how student achievement can be enhanced with the Apple Watch and comparing its use across other technology formats.
"The thing with wearables is that these are highly personal devices, even more personal than your smartphone," said Ben Brautigam, manager of advanced learning projects for Teaching and Learning with Technology (TLT) at Penn State University. "We can take this customized point of view to provide recommendations to students to enrich certain aspects of their learning."
The research is targeting self-regulated learning, or learning that students monitor and control through their knowledge, self-awareness skills, strategies and motivation. These are powerful tools that can change student academic achievement, according to Rayne Sperling, a self-regulation researcher and associate professor of educational psychology at Penn State.
Sperling is heading up the research, and wants to help students not only track their learning progress and remind them to study, but also present course-tailored strategies and content via mini quizzes to elevate student learning.
"I'm really excited about it because I think that there's some versatility here that we haven't seen before in this type of application," said Sperling, who is also director of undergraduate and graduate studies in educational psychology, counseling and special education.
Although there is uncharted territory, like the FitBit, the university's TLT unit plans to push data points together in interesting ways for dashboard visualizations that help students reflect on their learning progress, said Bart Pursel, who coordinates faculty programs within TLT, one of which is its fellows program.
Sperling's research joined forces with TLT when this spring she was chosen as one of five TLT Fellows. The program brings together technology staff with faculty to pursue cutting-edge technology projects, and then bring successful tech efforts to the larger Penn State community.
But even before the large-scale research begins, Sperling is planning how best to design and conduct the research, and is pinning down the right learning prompts to help students in regulating their learning.
"One way that prompts can support students’ awareness of their own learning is through modeling the types of questions students should ask themselves," Sperling explained. "Further, our scaffolds can prompt awareness of whether [the student] understands content and will also provide strategy suggestions."
The strategies Sperling will use are backed by research that prove they facilitate learning. One example is giving students in a calculus course who are studying related weight problems a specific prompt, such as a drawing strategy, and describing how it works and the best way to employ it, she said.
In addition to piloting these concepts, this summer Sperling is surveying students' existing self-regulation strategies and experimenting with the amount of learning support needed to enhance their learning.
The final scaffolds will be presented in a large-scale study to student volunteers in fall STEM courses so the team can look across technology formats and students to see what effects the formats have on self-regulated learning and student achievement, and when.
"My guess is that depending on the nature of the type of prompt or type of scaffold that we're providing for them, it's going to vary what sort of medium is going to best reach students," Sperling said.
Another important foundational issue is conducting design experiments to gauge how best to present the learning supports and to receive student feedback. With the Apple Watch, Brautigam said, there is a lot of flexibility; for instance, students can respond to prompts simply with a "yes" or "no" button, using sliders or meters to gauge their responses, or by replying with a voice message. Even if students dismiss a prompt, this still gives the research team information, he said.
"We're trying to find the simplest way possible to get a lot of information," said Brautigam.
Ideally these prompts will be managed in one place, but delivered across various formats including the Apple Watch, smartphones and the university's Web-based learning management system, as well as other wearable devices in the future, he said.
Meanwhile, Sperling's work is an extension of Brautigam's, who manages TLT's advanced learning projects group, which designs and develops new technologies and has experience building applications on Apple devices.
The self-regulation research also builds upon earlier learning analytics research conducted by TLT with input by Sperling. During that study, students tracked their individual progress and compared it to classmates' progress and behaviors, and saw behaviors correlated to higher achievement, such as regularly signing onto the university's course management system.
The new study will culminate in the ability to make predictions about which types of students are best able to use which types of technologies, and also how the tools are supporting their academic achievements, said Sperling.
Up until now, much of the academic research has been limited to other technology devices, like phones, where students were asked for motivational feedback and didn't receive specific learning tips or scaffolds, like Sperling plans to use.
In the end, the success of wearable-technology-mediated learning on a larger scale may depend on the adoption rate of the technology across the student body. But if it's anything like the iPhone, there may be something to it.
"If it does become prevalent, I think we'll have a leg up here," Brautigam said, "because we've been sort of investing in this and exploring this since the inception."
For Sperling, it will be interesting to check back on her research a year from now, she said. "It's possible that some really little prompt could change the way that [students] engage with the academic content."

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