As classrooms moved from face-to-face to virtual environments, the learning needs of students also changed. Technology company Microsoft developed new tools and solutions designed to support the five key areas — student centricity, skills focus, social learning, safety, security — educators require to create a holistic learning environment.
In a study conducted in partnership with market research firm YouGov, Microsoft found 71% of K-12 educators “felt technology has helped them improve their instruction and expanded their teaching capacity.”
Recognizing the challenges teachers and students experience with the sudden shift to online learning, Microsoft designed and updated these solutions to meet these needs.
“Innovation will continue to transform learning experiences and stands to help prepare students for their futures,” said Larry Nelson, regional general manager, Education, Microsoft Asia.
The new tools and solutions Microsoft launched include Reading Progress, to enhance students reading skills remotely, and features like Group Assignments and third-party app integrations in Microsoft Teams that will empower educators and support students in their classroom experience. Other updates include the availability of Minecraft: Education Edition outside the classroom and the launch of Reflect, a Microsoft Teams app that provides teachers with capabilities that support their students’ well-being virtually.
Reading Progress is a free tool designed to support readers who are learning a new language or educators trying to raise students’ general comprehension. It can help teachers and students to visualize reading progress with a holistic view of data and insights, including accuracy rate and actionable feedback useful for guiding class progress. Reading Progress is free for all students and teachers using Microsoft Teams for Education, and is compliant with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
Microsoft Teams is also now equipped with group assignment tools that will enable teachers to organize their students into assignment groups so they can work together to create, collaborate, and submit the same work.
Microsoft is releasing new features to Minecraft: Education Edition, which will provide more opportunities for students to play and learn in the classroom and out.
Video fatigue and other virtual classroom challenges can affect the teachers’ and students’ mental health. Microsoft built Reflect, a free app in Microsoft Teams that is aimed at providing a way for educators to create regular check-ins with individual students or classes to share how they are feeling, and help learners better understand how their emotions may impact their learning.
To ensure students’ safety in digital and physical spaces, Microsoft is launching Supervised Chat in Teams. Available later this month, this feature allows designated educators to initiate chats with students while preventing students from starting new chats unless an appropriate educator is present — meaning students can engage in safe discussions.