From Bett: New tools for the visually impaired , Immersive Reader for VR, and Microsoft Teams gets new classroom features

Microsoft announced a lot of interesting hardware news this morning at the Bett education conference, with a new Microsoft Classroom Pen and seven affordable Windows PCs for the classroom. The company also has several exciting announcements on the software front, including Microsoft Teams updates and new programs to empower inclusive learning.

First of all, Microsoft Teams is getting new education features this month, including the ability for teachers to create new assignments and see their list of upcoming assignments faster. The Microsoft Teams apps on iOS and Android will also allow teachers to grade Teams Assignments on mobile, and a new Grade Sync feature (now available in preview) makes it possible to send grades from Teams Assignments into a teacher’s Student Information Systems (SIS).

Microsoft Teams is also getting new integrations with Turnitin, a subscription-based service that helps teachers detect potential plagiarism. MakeCode, Microsoft’s online game development engine is also available in Teams to provide easy access to free computer science curricula.

Microsoft said today that it saw a 251% growth in usage of Teams in EDU last year, which is quite impressive. Flipgrid, a video-based social learning platform that Redmond acquired last year is also experiencing significant growth with more than 80,000 new teachers signing up every month. Microsoft is looking to increase usage with the launch of myFlipgrid.com, which will allow students to easily watch and share videos.

In addition to these Microsoft Teams updates, the company also made several technology announcements intended to personalize learning. First of all, the company will transfer the technology behind Code Jumper, a physical programming language created by Microsoft Research to the American Printing House for the Blind. Code Jumper has been designed to help visually impaired kids to learn code, and APH will make it available worldwide ove the next five years. “Together with APH, we believe Code Jumper can not only provide more students with the basic understanding of coding, but also provide important skills like computational thinking and resilience, which will have a positive impact in any career path a child might choose,” Microsoft said today.

Code Jumper can help visually impaired kids to learn code.

Lastly, Microsoft announced today Immersive Reader for VR, a new virtual reality experience designed to help anyone with ADHD, autism, dyslexia or visual impairments to focus while reading. The company has also teamed up with VictoryVR to provide schools free virtual reality curricula across when they purchase a Windows virtual reality headset. You can learn more about Microsoft’s latest education announcements during the various live sessions from the Bett conference this week. 

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