At a May 2nd event held in New York City, Microsoft announced that it plans to offer a more education-focused Office 365 free of charge to teachers and students worldwide.
The event was set up primarily to discuss Windows 10 and its use in classrooms, and saw the unveiling of Windows 10 S, but the announcement on Office 365 will have piqued the attention of those in the education sector, as will the news that Microsoft Teams is to be kitted out with some school-friendly features and Microsoft seeks to lock horns with the likes of Google and Apple once more in providing classroom tech solutions.
While many of us will have grown up using Microsoft applications like Word, Publisher and Excel in school, recent years have seen Office develop further education-focused uses. These include the 2003 introduction of OneNote (which can gather handwritten or typed notes) and an increased focus on using PowerPoint, both as a presenting tool and as a way for students to learn to develop presentations of their own.
With Windows 10 S to be focused on running applications downloaded from the Windows Store, the Office 365 suite will soon be added to the Store, making it available on this latest version of Microsoft’s operating system.
Teams, a chat-based tool implemented to Office 365 last year, is set to be given some tweaks that will make it of greater use in educational environments. These will focus particularly on teacher-to-student communication, with teachers able to communicate with students via text either on an individual or group basis, but Teams also allows students to collaborate with one another should they be working on a group project.
Video calling is another feature of Teams that is likely to be of use to the education sector, and again, this can be conducted either one-to-one or through a group, and with or without teacher participation. Should a teacher wish to do so, he or she can delete or mute any unsuitable or inappropriate messages during a video calling session.
At the event, a Georgia-based headteacher gave a demonstrate of how the Office suite can be used in education to give notetaking and revision more of a real-time feel. He showed that students are able to see their notes appear on a screen in the order they were made, allowing for a more intuitive way to review notes at the end of the lesson than would be the case with a basic, static page.
Lastly, in a further attempt to reach out to young users in full-time education, Teams is to become equipped with gifs and emojis so that it can be used in a more diverse and expressive way than simple words-on-the-screen would allow for.
At WM Reply, we’re always excited to hear of technology becoming more freely available to schools and other young people’s organisations so that more of tomorrow’s adults can grow up au fait with cutting-edge software solutions. To learn more about the services we offer, such as Office 365 and Sharepoint, why not get in touch today?