By Emeka Aginam
The introduction of a set of Microsoft educational products and services, is empowering students, teachers of today to create tomorrow’s world, Terry Myerson , the Executive Vice President, Windows and Devices Group of Microsoft has said.
The new educational tools he said include Windows experience called Windows 10 S; new experiences in Microsoft Teams for modern classroom collaboration; new features in Minecraft and mixed reality to spark creativity; a range of Windows 10 S PCs for K-12 classrooms; and the perfect Windows 10 S device for college students Surface Laptop.
“We believe technology can inspire creativity in today’s classrooms, where the makers of tomorrow reside. This next generation of creators embrace technology as their first language; learn by collaborating and communicating with anyone in the world; and create with touch, command with voice, and conceptualize in 3D”, Myerson said.
Preparing each of these creators for the jobs of tomorrow, he said is one of our biggest societal challenges and greatest opportunities.
Today, only 3% of college degrees in the US are in computer science and 65% of today’s students will have jobs that do not yet exist, he added.
In the classroom, he said that Windows is the leading education platform worldwide, as teachers choose it for rich creativity inspiring applications, like Autodesk SketchBook, Adobe Photoshop Elements, Minecraft, and the rich Office 365 not the mobile experience, which is coming soon to the Windows Store.
“ Teachers also choose Windows for rich peripheral support, including amazing new STEM lesson plans with Lego and Arduino boards, tools to enable accessibility, virtual reality headsets, interactive whiteboards, and more.
“To understand how we could do more, our teams traveled the world to talk with school administrators, teachers, and students using Windows in the classroom. Teachers were consistent—kids can get distracted easily and don’t always follow direction.
“They asked for their Windows to be more resilient to hundreds of different youthful kids interacting with each device during the school year, maintaining the same great battery life and fast login time on the first day of school as the last.
“ On the administrator front, I recall how Ricardo Garmendia from the Renton School District described how his department supports 850 classrooms with 11,000 Windows devices—he was overwhelmed with the ongoing setup of new devices, and management of the current devices in the classroom”, Myerson explained further.
According to him, Windows 10 S is inspired by students and teachers, streamlined for simplicity, security and superior performance. I believe it best reflects the soul of Windows.
With Windows 10 S, he informed that all the applications which teachers and students downloaded come from the Windows Store where they are first verified for security, and then locally they each run in a safe “container”, ensuring consistent performance of the system.
In the classroom, he said that this ensures fast login times and consistent performance, enabling everyone in the classroom to start learning quickly, and stay focused without distraction.
“Windows 10 S can run any browser in the Windows Store. And we have been focused on making Microsoft Edge great for the classroom, ensuring compatibility with the sites educators use, like Google Docs.
“New features in Microsoft Edge like the new Tab Preview Bar make it easy for students to research and manage school projects. With Windows Ink in Microsoft Edge, students can easily make notes directly on a web page and share them with a classmate.
“For Ricardo, and other school IT admins around the world, we also now have the Set Up School PC app in the Windows Store, enabling set up of entire classrooms of devices with customized experiences using a USB stick, in as little as 30 seconds per device.
“And with Microsoft Intune for Education – available today – we now have a complete end-to-end solution for teachers and schools to configure and manage all their student’s PCs”, he said.
According to him, “With Windows 10 S, we’ve ensured that a teacher or administrator who understands the risks of downloading any app from the Internet, can do so. At any time, they can go to the Windows Store and switch to Windows 10 Pro.
“This is a one-way switch, as when a user is running Windows 10 Pro they can install anything—but this is the magic of the open Windows platform, which we plan to always continue to make available alongside Windows 10 S”, he added
Inspired by teachers and students, Windows 10 S, according to him is a new Windows experience. I believe at its core, Windows 10 S is the soul of today’s Windows.
“Our goal with Windows 10 S is to develop the open vibrant partner-centric ecosystem we have today. Our partners, including Acer, ASUS, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Samsung, and Toshiba offer a range of new Windows 10 PCs for Education today – starting at $189.
“ In the coming months, these partners will offer a range of Windows 10 S devices—from powerful and affordable Windows Ink and touch PCs to beautiful premium devices.
“Word, Excel, and PowerPoint Online already allow students to co-author documents in real time. And new classroom experiences in Microsoft Teams take collaboration to a whole new level – and make Teams the digital hub for teachers and students.
“ Together with OneNote Class Notebooks and new assignment and quiz experiences, teachers can easily distribute content, grade work, personalize learning, and communicate with students, parents, and staff.
Teams also enables teachers to bring in rich and engaging content from the web, guest speakers, and solutions from education partners like busuu, Canvas, Flipgrid, and Kahoot!.
“And most importantly, Teams helps students develop the communication and collaboration skills they’ll need to be successful in the future. To learn more about the new classroom experiences in Teams, visit the Office Blog”, the Executive Vice President, Windows and Devices Group of Microsoft , said.
Introducing Code Builder for Minecraft: Education Edition
According to him, “What continues to amaze me about Minecraft is that a game that strikes such a deep connection with children has become such an important learning tool to teach teamwork, logical thinking, and problem-solving.
“ Minecraft is not just one of the most popular video games in history — it is also revolutionizing education, with schools in more than 100 countries using Minecraft: Education Edition to promote creativity and collaboration in the classroom.
“Today, we announced Code Builder for Minecraft: Education Edition, designed to inspire students to learn the basics and the power of coding by combining the open worlds of Minecraft with popular learn-to-code platforms such as Tynker, ScratchX and a new open source platform from Microsoft called MakeCode. Players can move around, build and create in Minecraft by writing code. To learn more about Code Builder for Minecraft: Education Edition”