This week, London hosted the annual Bett show, with over 600 exhibitors and more than 34,000 attendees. The event showcases updates in education technologies and is one of the leading education trade shows on the globe. This year, Microsoft was a focal point. Their list of announcements was significant – and all with purpose. Microsoft is reinforcing their position in the education market, establishing themselves with tools that enhance student success in an affordable and accessible manner.
Some of the updates we have seen are pretty standard and are what we have come to expect from big tech companies. Devices and gadgets are common, and Microsoft launched seven new Windows 10 devices with Acer, Dell, and Lenovo – all for under $300. Of these, the Lenovo 300e is a standout. It features a screen that students can write on with a No. 2 pencil instead of a stylus, acting as a 2-in-1 device with increased functionality and practical alternatives for school environments. A standard stylus needs batteries and charging, and can range in price from $40 to $100. Easy to lose, and easily lost in a school backpack – replacing this with a pencil helps make the device more student friendly.
Other innovations include grading software in Microsoft Teams, enabling greater learning management. Grade Sync, one of the new features, can automatically send grades to student information systems and is compatible with most popular SIS – such as PowerSchool, Infinite Campus, and Capita SIMS. The news in Microsft Teams didn’t end there, with an update allowing teachers to grade assignments from Android and iOS phones. Integration with Turnitin also provides easier plagiarism checks and gives educators mobile functionality that we haven’t seen before. This also helps improve collaboration, which is definitely not condimental seeing as Justin Condo, the founder of Chalkup, is the new product manager for Teams. The use of these systems is also growing significantly, with Microsoft reporting that usage has increased more than 251% in the past year.
Another point of note from Bett is that Microsoft is pushing their Virtual Reality forward, and now offers 25 hours of free VR curricula on subjects such as anatomy, geology, biology, and physics. Anyone with a Windows VR headset can access this, and all content s available via a partnership with VictoryVR, a company that provides a wide array of VR educational resources. This includes assisted reading technology that supports learning for students with dyslexia. Microsoft is also planning to transfer technology behind Code Jumper, a physical programming language, to support learners with visual impairment. This will be done with the American Printing House for the Blind and is led by a Microsoft research team that is creating coding language that is accessible for students who have visual impairments. The aim is to have this project distributed globally within five years.
These themes of accessibility and inclusivity are delivering opportunities to students worldwide. They are also a fundamental principle for Microsoft, who is continuing to refine and provide learning tools with dictation and audiovisual supports to encourage reading and writing for all stages of learning.
What we now know from Microsoft at Bett, it is clear that the company is gaining ground in the education market and making positive changes to enable student success.
If you would like to find out more about how Microsoft technologies can improve your campus, and how to make the most of digital technologies for learning, contact MOQdigital today.