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?

Are Computer Labs Necessary in Today’s Schools?

Are computer labs necessary in today’s schools?

According to Cengage author Mark Frydenberg, the answer is yes, but not in the traditional way.

As BizEd Magazine reports, in 2017, “students have their own laptops, so they no longer need a place to connect to the internet or write papers. Instead they need spaces where they can experiment with new technologies.

That’s why, in 2011, Frydenberg spearheaded the development of Bentley University’s Learning & Technology Sandbox, also known as “CIS Sandbox,” for the computer information systems department.

He tells BizEd, “When I was asked to take over the lab in 2010, I was reluctant because it wasn’t a place where I wanted to spend my time. But then I started thinking about what the future of computer learning could be.”

The Sandbox replaced the old computer lab, a traditional space with 40 computer stations, gray carpeting, gray furniture, and no windows, as described by BizEd. With the help of University funding, the space underwent a complete renovation, “replacing the computer stations with six U-shaped tables with monitors for group work, wall-mounted display monitors, and soft chairs for lounging.”

How is the CIS Sandbox used? Frydenberg says it provides IT tutoring, exposes students to new tech, and hosts speakers, workshops and other programming, and gives students a place to study and socialize.

It’s popular, too. The article notes that more than 3,000 students spend time at the Sandbox each semester, and the admissions office, who once said “every school as a computer lab, so no one’s going to come to Bentley because of that space,” has now put the Sandbox on the tour for prospective students.

“Our mission at the Sandbox is to create a space where students can explore technology in a social way,” Frydenberg tells EdBiz. “Giving them the ability to play with the next up-and-coming technological tools or program an app—it’s a pretty powerful thing.”

Tell us what you think – Is a Sandbox the computer lab of the future?

Microsoft Office Skills Rated Number Four on Most Required Skills List

A new white paper, Keys to the Future: Align Workforce Readiness Skills to Ensure Student Success, looks at the most widely desired skills in today’s workforce, and the skills and competencies that will be most in-demand by 2024. The research, conducted by International Data Corporation (IDC) and sponsored by Microsoft, reveals that the top 20 most required job skills include Microsoft Office, which lands at number 4, and Microsoft PowerPoint, landing at number 16.

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IDC analyzed 76.7 million job postings from 2015 to identify the 20 most commonly required skills for these positions, then examined the skills required for 70 positions that are expected to have above average growth and salary potential between 2016 and 2024 – these are called “high opportunity positions.”

This top 20 list represents skills that are most required across all occupations and are considered “cross-functional skills.” IDC categorized these skills into three overlapping buckets:

  • Communication, integration, and presentation skills
  • Entrepreneurialism and related skills
  • Microsoft, Microsoft Office and other software skills

These cross-functional skills suggest that students require “job readiness” and not “job training” for success, as educators should focus on skills with the broadest applicability.

Cengage creates learning experiences that build confidence and momentum toward the future students want. Learn more about our resources for Microsoft Office here.

New Save a Copy Feature for OneNote Class Notebooks

OneNote Save a copy 1

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An important new feature for OneNote Class Notebooks has just been announced: The Save a Copy feature allows students or instructors to copy content and save copies of  Class Notebooks to their own OneDrive accounts. This allows both students and instructors to archive school notes and to access content from Class Notebooks outside of school.

Microsoft has promised that this is just the initial roll out of the Save a Copy feature and in the near future, they will add the ability to choose any notebook type, not just Class Notebooks and roll out the Save a Copy feature to OneDrive for Business.

Microsoft Forms for Office 365 Education

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Microsoft announced the availability of Microsoft Forms for Office 365 Education customers. The Microsoft Forms app lets Office 365 Education users quickly and easily create and/or respond to custom surveys, quizzes, and questionnaires. Forms can be distributed via links, or embedded in web sites, blogs or learning management systems. Quizzes created in Microsoft Forms include automatic grading and in-quiz feedback functionality. Use the Summary View explore real-time analytics and grades.

Office 365 Education can get started at https://forms.office.com

Microsoft Office Proficiency is Still Top In-Demand Job Skill

IDC_TopSkills-879x630 Proficiency in Microsoft Office and PowerPoint are top in-demand job skills according to research

The IDC has released a new white paper entitled Keys to the Future: Align Workforce Readiness Skills to Ensure Student Success. The IDC’s research examined the most in-demand skills in today’s workforce, and the skills needed for tomorrow’s best jobs. Their findings concluded that proficiency in Microsoft Office is still near the top of the list.

Anthony Salcito, vice president of Worldwide Education as Microsoft says that, “while over the past three years we’ve seen the breadth of needed skills for jobs increase by 68 percent, we’ve also seen that communication skills, including proficiency in Microsoft Office and PowerPoint, remain vitally important for success in the workplace.”

At Cengage, we believe that mastering Microsoft Office skills is essential for success in the workforce. For more information and additional findings, check out the full article from the Microsoft blog.