Microsoft is sending waves through the education industry this week after an exciting announcement at the annual Bett conference in London. Each year I have been able to watch Microsoft’s footprint in education evolve. From their devices to STEM solutions to productivity tools, and this year is no exception. Microsoft has taken today’s top #EdTech classroom trends and turned them into accessible applications for teachers and students.
The Device Price is Right
Let’s not beat around the bush. Chromebooks came into the market with an unbeatable price for schools and parents alike with their browser based OS. Yesterday’s announcement of new, powerful Windows 10/10S laptops starting at $189 will provide budgetary relief for those schools not wanting to compromise on Chromebooks or those looking to refresh older Windows devices. The newest 100e and 300e devices announced from Lenovo join an existing portfolio of clam-shell devices starting at $189 and 2-in-1 with pens starting at $299 available this year.
Bringing “Mixed Reality” to the Classroom
Reading through any #EdTech trending posts you’ll see that AR/VR is on course to be the biggest tech trend in education. As with many trends, schools are wow’d by the potential, but applying it in the everyday classroom requires content and curriculum. Microsoft is joining forces with the likes of Pearson and PBS to deliver applications and content designed specifically to bring this digital experience to the classroom. This offering of curriculum is expected to arrive in March and will work on both Microsoft’s VR systems, the HoloLense and Windows Mixed Reality VR Headset which starts at $299 for education customers.
Chemistry comes to Minecraft: Education Edition
Under a year ago the Coder Builder update to Minecraft was announced, which took students beyond basic computational thinking to develop real world coding skills. In this newest Chemistry update Microsoft creates an immersive experience for students to learn science through activities like building compounds and hands on experimentation. As with each update, Microsoft rolls out a line of lesson, teaching resources and worlds that will get you started right away.
I want to close with a quick update to a recent article I did speaking to Microsoft’s Learning Tools and the Immersive Reader. In February dictation will be added to learning tools as well as its expansion to its language capabilities make this even more valuable for students with learning differences. This update will expand to Word for Mac, iPhone, Outlook Desktop, OneNote iPad and OneNote for Mac. All of the Office 365 Education updates and the full list of announcements are available on Microsoft’s Windows Blog and be sure to follow me for more features on Microsoft in Education topics.