Microsoft unveils new Teams features to support future of global education
Microsoft announced ‘Teams for Education’ features to engage and prepare students and teachers for new remote and hybrid learning formats in the upcoming school year. These include expanded audience view of up to 49 participants, custom backgrounds, class insights, and virtual breakout rooms, among other new features.
Surveying nearly 500 members of the Microsoft Education community, comprising teachers and institutional leaders from around the world, Microsoft found that there has been a strong uptake in the use of remote learning tools. 61% expect to begin the next school year in a hybrid learning environment—a mix of remote and in-person learning—and 87% said they expect to use technology more in physical classrooms.
Microsoft academic solutions is enabling learning and continuity schools in India.The British School in New Delhi moved to Microsoft Teams to enable its teachers and students interact and collaborate in remote learning scenarios. Others such as The Ardee School in New Friends Colony (NFC) had started with remote learning via Teams even before the schools were shut due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Moving to Teams has provided teachers new tools to engage with their students remotely. While some teachers are using Kahoot quizzes at the end of their classes, others are encouraging students to create and share content using Sway, Buncee and Paint 3D. To replicate the test environment, teachers are also sharing Microsoft Forms on Teams, which they need to fill and send back.
“Many teachers and faculty have been incorporating new tools into their lessons, often for the first time and students are experiencing new methods of learning, which will have an important, lasting impact on their future. With this transition, it has become clear that with the required physical distance between teachers and students, it’s more important than ever to help educators find ways to connect with students and keep them engaged, motivated, and safe in a digital world. It is inspiring to see how technology is helping educators and students maintain learning continuity,” said Manish Prakash, Country General Manager-Public Sector, Health and Education, Microsoft India.
New remote learning formats require educators to create compelling, engaging, and inclusive content to ensure strong student engagement. To support this, educators are turning to a central hub of digital tools for remote learning across different activities, while maintaining secure learning environments. In fact, over 150 million students, faculty, institutional leaders, and teachers have been actively using Microsoft Education products—with Teams for Education as that hub—to engage students in remote learning. The new ‘Teams for Education’ features are aimed at increasing student participation and giving educators’ new methods to keep students digitally engaged:
> Accommodate 49 participants at once on a single screen: Teams will be expanding its grid view to 7x7, accommodating up to 49 participants to boost student engagement, as well as social and emotional connection. Previews will be available later this month and available more widely later in the year.
> Virtual breakout rooms: Educators will be able to create virtual breakout sessions for students to meet and collaborate in small groups closer to the end of the year.
> Enhancing student participation: In ‘Teams for Education’, students can digitally Raise Their Hands during class meetings. Educators can also see Attendance Reports and, later in the year, view Class Insights, an intelligent data analytics breakdown on student engagement in class, rate of assignments turned in, activity metrics and grades, with a new trends view.
> Meeting Lobby: Maintaining student security and control over the classroom experience is critical. New meeting options in Teams prevent students from starting meetings unattended, allows educators to determine who can present in a meeting, and give educators the ability to ensure only assigned students can join a meeting.
> Customised images and personalised learning spaces: With people working, living, and learning in shared spaces at home, in addition to using background blur and pre-selected background images, students and teachers can customise their own images and as a result, personalise their own learning space.
> Partner integrations: ‘Teams for Education’ now also includes integrations with Kahoot, Prezi, GO1, Nearpod, Piazza, Gaggle, Moodle, Canvas, and others. Microsoft will continue to add partner integrations making it easier for schools and universities to use Teams.
Providing accessible and inclusive education for students
Microsoft has also built in Learning Tools like Immersive Reader into Microsoft Word, Microsoft Edge, Teams, OneNote, Flipgrid, and Minecraft: Education Edition to enable parents to support students across all reading levels or those who have difficulty reading or writing due to dyslexia or dysgraphia. Today, Immersive Reader is empowering over 23 million people with dyslexia and learning disabilities globally every month.
Creating accessible education is a key priority and core value to Microsoft’s approach for Education. New experiences like Microsoft Translator for Education, will empower educators to engage with students and their family members in their native languages as well as provide reading and literacy support via text and audio.