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Microsoft in Education: Whats new

In May of this year Microsoft unveiled their vision and development for Microsoft in Education at the Microsoft Education Event in new York City. Their vision is to not only move the classroom from physical to digital but to also to provide ‘more outcome-driven, personal learning paths for students’ as they stated in their education blog. They vowed to create an affordable and accessible learning platform.

‘Empowering the students of today to create the world of tomorrow’ – Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft.

So we are going to look at some of the new developments to Microsoft in Education.

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft teams is a digital hub for teachers, students and staff that brings together content, conversation and apps into one place. You can create classes within Microsoft Teams which can then connect with the schools information systems to populate the student rosters. In every class there is an integrated OneNote notebook which enables the teacher’s to create interactive and immersive lessons. Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Planner are all easily accessible through Microsoft Teams too. Distribute, collect and grade assignments within Microsoft Teams. You can create instant meetings as well as sending quick videos and face to face chat through the camera. Because teams is a digital hub, it can be used anywhere, on any device. Meaning students can work together at any time.

Windows 10 S

Windows 10 S is a new version of Windows. The S stands for ‘streamlined, secure and superior performance’. One of the most important things on Windows 10 S is its speed. Log in takes less than 30 seconds.They have got rid of the use of apps from any other third parties and you can now only use Windows apps meaning you can ensure you will have a faster experience. This also makes it a safer experience too as Microsoft have confirmed these apps to be secure. There will also now be many free apps available on the Windows store for education as well as a 1-year free subscription for Minecraft. You will get a modern PC experience with the Windows 10 S. We had a look at Windows 10 S in a little more detail in a previous article we wrote.


Intune for Education is an exciting development from Microsoft. This is a cloud based service that allows schools to manage their Windows 10 devices efficiently. With Intune you can easily manage policies, settings and apps on all of your classroom devices. Intune for education is tailored for schools. When purchased you will have the express setup dashboard where you configure your devices. This includes customised settings and options for which apps you would like. When the student goes to use the device it will be set up under these desired settings. If you have many devices for all of your students that you need to set up, Microsoft have thought of a great solution. Create your desired settings and apps on one device then insert a USB into that device. The information will download onto the USB. You then simply insert these into the other devices and your preferred settings and configurations will be applied to that device. You can do an entire classroom of devices in under an hour.

Story remix

Story remix is a video creator that will be coming into the Windows 10 Autumn Creator Update. It is created to inspire students and educators to create and tell stories using video, music and photos. It has a Story Editor so students can show their teacher the process of creating their video. You can easily add music, filters, text and transitions to your creations. You can put animated characters into your video enabling it to become mixed reality. Students can work collaboratively on projects seamlessly. This will be available on iOS, Android as well as Windows devices. You can work on Story Remix across your devices so if you start a story on your iPhone you can then finish it off on you Windows 10 PC.

Learning Tools – Immersive Reader

Learning tools for OneNote is transforming the way that students learn. One featured tool is Immersive Reader. Immersive Reader teaching students who struggle to read and write to really immerse them into the literature experience. Students who could only read a few words per minute are now achieving to read 20+ per minute. The tool shows the words of your part of text in a large font, it then has a voiceover which will read through the text out loud. You have the ability to change the background colour theme to what works best for you as well as changing the spacing between the text and the font type and size. The language can be changed and there is also the ability to choose ‘nouns’, ‘adjectives’ and ‘verbs’ which then highlights these in the paragraph of text. This enables the student to differentiate between them with colour coding. You can also choose ‘syllables’ and this will separate the text with dots to show you were the syllables are. Pretty much everything has the ability to be personalised making all of the reading experience just right for you.




Find out the latest ICT innovations with Microsoft Hack the Classroom

Tomorrow morning sees the exciting online event called ‘Hack the Classroom’. Microsoft are bringing together inspiring educators and thought leaders to share their very own secrets with you. This had been designed to inspire teachers and enable you to incorporate the new ideas and tools that you learn from this online event, into your classroom.

By attending this online event you will be able to gain access to professional development resources and tools in order to get your hackathon started! You will be able to take a glimpse into teachers who have already taken this on board and see how these small changes do really make a big impact. You will also be able to engage, interact and pose questions to the speakers and educators.

Lets take a brief look at the agenda for the day…

Interactive Maker Space

Jordan Shapiro, an education thought leader called, will be taking you on a tour of the live make space.

Glimpse into a classroom using OneNote

MIE Expert and elementary special education teacher Laura Pittman, takes a look at the learning tools within OneNote to show how her students reading and writing skills have been dramatically increased.

Thought Leader Keynote

John Kao shares with us his ideas on how to build a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship for students.

Glimpse into a Classroom using Minecraft

Patricia Romero will show you her journey of using Minecraft in her lesson, to then spreading this across her school and schools across Latin America.

Virtual Field Trip with Skype

Skype Master Teacher and MIE Expert, Dyane Smokorowski has used Skype to open the walls of her classroom and she will be taking you on a Virtual field trip.

Maker Space Panel

Listen to how other teachers from the Marker Space share what it was like ‘making’ for the first time. Get to see how they connect this to their curriculum.

So if you want to join #HackTheClassroom it takes place on September the 24th 2016 at 08:00AM – 10:00AM PST. That’s tomorrow! So go and register now and don’t miss out on a very innovative live event that will take your classroom to the next level!

Register here.



Minecraft: a learning aid for Education

Minecraft is a video game that essentially is a virtual land and the users can create their own worlds. These are made through the construction of blocks, done by mining for building resources. This game really stretch’s the user’s creativity.  As you may have already heard, Minecraft has taken a key role within classrooms throughout the world. Minecraft: Education Edition is an ‘open world game’ that can lend itself to the education curriculum. It contains many features that enable it to lend itself to the classroom.

Students can use their Office 365 Education accounts which enables them to have a simple sign-in. These accounts are secure and already have their information embedded. Minecraft lends itself so well to collaboration as up to 30 students can be actively working within one world, at one time. Teachers are even able to create an ‘non-player’ character. This character acts as a guide for the students, it will give instructions and provide information. A Chalkboard can be used within the games, they are there so that teachers can post learning goals and tasks. Links can even be added through the ‘non-player’ character as a point of reference. To document their development throughout the game, there is a camera option which will take screenshots.

There is a range of lessons for the educators which cater for age and lesson. You get objectives, questions, activities and learning criteria is each of these lessons. Here is an example of the lessons plans for each age groups.

Ages 5-9
Ages 10-13
Ages 14+
Creating a Virtual Community Preventing Urban Sprawl City Planning
Factors & Multiples Loss of Biodiversity Sustainable Living
Landmarks in The Community Ignoring Climate Change Solar Planning
Story Setting Fraction Stories Rube Goldberg MAchines
State History Deforestation Animal Farm
Area & Perimeter Storytelling

To start using Minecraft: education Edition you need to be signed up to Office 365 using the school or district email. You will then need your operating system to be either  Windows 10 or OS X EI Capitan. Then lastly, you just need to download and enjoy!

There is an early version which is available for free, however the full version will cost you between $1 and $5 per user, per year. The price will vary depending on the size of the school and qualification for volume licensing. If you want to find out more visit the official Minecraft: Education Edition website, or watch this video to see how pupils enjoy using Minecraft in the classroom.