As faculty and students head back to school, Microsoft would like to gift many of them with some useful tools. Microsoft believes, “With the right technology platform in place and training, teachers around the world are finding inspiring new ways to use personalized approaches to impart 21st-century skills.”
Perhaps that is why, this year, Microsoft will be offering eight new resources for teachers and students to take advantage of during the school year.
- The first and perhaps most important offering is the move of Office 365 Education to a single, free plan for all academic institutions. In addition to making it free, Microsoft is also making sure Office 365 Education is secure and compliant with each school’s compliance requirements. Beyond the cost, Microsoft has also worked on sign up process, making it easier for teachers and students to sign up for Office tools. Soon anyone with a valid school email address will be able to sign for free Office 365 Education benefits.
- The second resource is OneNote Class Notebook and Staff Notebooks opening up to global customers using Office 365 Education.
- Third, Microsoft and Skype or working to make virtual fields trips a commonly used tool in the classroom. Interested teachers can sign up for new Skype in the classroom field trips this year.
- Coming in at number four is Microsoft’s new interactive presentation software, Sway. The digital storytelling app recently joined the Office suite and has become an effective way for teachers and students to collaborate and produce work that lives on the web. From class projects to personal portfolios, teachers can help students utilize Sway as a new and easy to use expressive platform.
- The fifth tool in Microsoft’s back to school arsenal is the recently released Snip tool. Snip is a beefed up screen capturing tool that allows users to add sketches, voice notation and share them via website embeds or emails. Snip helps teachers and students quickly communicate and share information across devices and the Internet.
- The sixth tool according to Microsoft is more of a bundle of free options rather than a single solitary tool. Microsoft is promoting its Microsoft YouthSpark Hub offers a resources and programs to learn digital skills and computer science. Microsoft is also pushing its Microsoft Imagine tools and resources that will be offered at no cost to teachers. Another no-cost offering by Microsoft is Microsoft’s Virtual Academy that offers free computer science courses for students at all levels. For future coders, Microsoft is also encouraging the use of its new computer science curriculum offered through Creative Coding Through Games and Apps. Again, these are all free to teachers and students to take advantage of.
- We reported on tool number seven earlier this week. Microsoft has partnered with Angela Maiers and her company Choose2Matter Inc to provide teachers with a free customizable and interactive e-book through OneNote. Angela’s co-authored book Liberating Genius: The First 20 Days provides teachers a day-by-day lesson plan for the first 20 days of implementing Angela’s famous ‘Genius Hour’.
- The last tool happens to be Microsoft itself. The company will be developing more free training courses for educators that will be available online or at any local Microsoft Store.
Microsoft’s push for education is arguably becoming a focus as important as the enterprise has been for Microsoft, and that’s a good future for educators and students.