Microsoft Announces New Teams, Minecraft, and Surface Laptop

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella opened the company’s Education-focused event today by asking, “How can technology create opportunity for all?”

Believing that technology should help, not hinder, a teacher’s work in the classroom, Microsoft is releasing Windows 10 s this Summer in time for the new school year.

Microsoft said that the students entering school today is the first generation who speaks technology as their first language, and learns primarily by collaborating. An estimated 65% of students in school today, will have jobs that do not yet exist – STEM curriculum will set these students up for success in the future.

This new version of Windows will feature more security and faster load times, it’s streamlined for consistency, and provides superior performance.

Changes are coming to Teams too, designed specifically for education, and includes classroom chats (with emojis and gifs – FINALLY! I’ve been waiting!!! Outlook, where you at?), assignment submissions and more. Teachers will have special moderating and facilitating controls for “teachable moments”.

Windows 10 s will come with a free subscription to Minecraft Education Edition, free Windows 10 S for all schools on current Windows Pro PCs, and free Microsoft Office 365 for Education with Microsoft Teams.

Microsoft believes in Learning by Doing. Minecraft has over 100 million players worldwide. Microsoft gave an example of using Minecraft in the classroom from a teacher in the UK, who asked his students to create a livable habitat on Mars. Using math to manage their resources and figuring out how to grow food, students learned to code and used critical thinking skills to complete the project.

Microsoft also released their new Surface Laptop (with Windows 10 s), touting that this is the laptop that will last a student throughout their entire education. The product looks super sleek and nice, and I’d like one for myself.  I’m not a techy person, but Microsoft said that in designing this product, they wanted it to be more personal, and not design just another piece of equipment, and honestly, I got that sense from this Laptop.

Did anyone else watch the livestream this morning? What do you think of Microsoft announcements? Will Windows 10 S have an impact on the use of iPads and Google?

 

Does Academia Know What Technology Employers are Looking For?

It started two years ago. I stopped using my laptop or tablet at home, and only used my phone to Google, shop, scroll through Instagram, or check email as I’d wind down at night. Now, I still use my phone, but I mostly rely on Siri to do my Googling for me.

Now, with Google Assistant, Cortana, and Alexa, the talk-to-tech trend is taking off – it’s easier and faster than finding your phone, unlocking it, opening an App, or tapping any keys.

Now that Amazon allows programmers to connect existing services to Alexa, the cloud-based voice service that powers the Echo, every-day programmers can build entirely new voice-powered experiences, called Skills, with “just a few lines of code,” for free. Voila! Alexa now opens and uses Apps for us!

Alexa is taking over home appliances, too.  Appliance makers LG, Whirlpool, GE, and Samsung introduced products, like a vacuum, that starts by issuing a command to an Echo. LG’s forthcoming Smart InstaView Door-in-Door refrigerator will connect to Alexa, so users can ask her to pull up recipes on a touchscreen, or order food.

It’s still the early days with voice command services, but what does this mean for education? I think it means Computer Science & Programming education is more important than ever. STEM job growth will surpass all other jobs at 18.7% between 2010 and 2020, leading to 1.1 million computing jobs by 2024.

Does the academic community know what technology employers are looking for? Last week’s post discussed the relevancy of the computer lab in today’s schools – Cengage author Mark Frydenberg shared his Sandbox mission – should more schools get onboard?