As another school year begins, Microsoft delights with summer updates and changes to its suite of learner-centered offerings, designed to help educators Hack the Classroom. Whether you are an Office 365 expert or just beginning your learning adventure with Microsoft Education tools, you will want to take a quick look at these powerful updates.

Did You Know? …that you can get Office 365 Online tools and 1 terabyte (TB) of cloud storage for free as an educator? This includes Word Online, PowerPoint Online, Excel Online, Outlook Online. Visit http://office.com/teachers to claim your free storage space and access. Or, if you prefer, pay $69.99/year—$6.99 per month–for Office 365 Personal. Not sure how to get started with Office 365? Check out these free online videos!

Classroom

Microsoft Classroom launched this summer, boasting a rich array of features present in existing learning management systems. This enables teachers and students to take advantage of Office 365 tools in the context of MS Classroom. Some of its main features include Assignment tracking, class calendar of assignments, placement of assignment dates in student calendars, group conversations, co-teacher support, and much more. Be sure to read this Classroom Smackdown blog entry. School Data Sync makes it easy to provision classroom rosters in MS Classroom, eliminating the need for teachers to enroll students by hand.

OneNote

Watch Become a OneNote Ninja! to get an overview of OneNote features in education. OneNote makes it child’s play to include typing, digital ink, embed videos, record audio and capture web content using the OneNote Clipper add-on available for most browsers. Staff and Class Notebook make it possible for learners regardless of their role to collaborate, share, and enjoy one on one teacher-student academic exchanges. And, teachers can provide handwritten, typed, audio, video feedback to students directly on their work (which can also be handwritten, typed, include recorded audio or video). Updates to OneNote and other tools like Staff Notebook, Class Notebook, Learning Tools add-in for accessibility

  • Learning Tools for OneNote (Source) recently enhanced accessibility features.
  • OneNote Class Notebook enhancements added a host of new features are accessible that make it easy to rename student sections, distribute new sections to all students in class, lock/unlock the built-in Collaboration Space in Class Notebook.
  • OneNote Class Notebook (watch this video) enjoys integration with over 30 Learning Management Systems. OneNote Class Notebook connects to more than just MS Classroom! In addition to MS Classroom, Class Notebook integrates with tools like Google Classroom, Edmodo (watch this introductory video series on Edmodo and Microsoft tools by TCEA member Rachelle Wooten (@rwootenits)), Schoology, Canvas, and many more! Grade something in OneNote Class Notebook and it appears in the learning management system you have connected.
  • Automate Staff Notebook creation. Staff Notebook provides a collaboration space for a digital campus/district faculty. It can also serve as a way to model collaborative OneNote use for teachers, as evidenced in this story. Staff Notebook now has a utility to create staff notebooks for a school or district. This facilitates the Technology Department’s job. Find out more.
  • The OneNote Importer Tool is now available for both Windows and Mac. Whether you are on Windows or Mac, migrate those notes on Windows or Mac computers. Over 71 million Evernote pages have been imported into OneNote for Windows; now, that functionality is available on Mac (Source).
  • In OneNote, you can also easily insert media from sites like Office Mix, Vimeo, YouTube, as well as MS Sway creations and Microsoft Forms. Also, a variety of digital ink effects, such as rainbow, galaxy, gold and silver are available, and digital ink for Mac is now available.

Microsoft Forms

In June, Microsoft introduced Microsoft Forms for formative assessments and surveys (Source). Forms can be used to quickly assess students on any given topic, and features built-in quiz features. Once the quiz or survey is complete, the teacher can send a link or QR code, as well as embed the quiz or survey in a web page. To embed a form in OneNote, simply paste in the web address (URL) into a page and the Form will magically appear. Microsoft Forms also features real-time feedback in Forms, but data can be analyzed in Microsoft Excel as well. Forms, as colleague John Bimmerle (@J_Bimmerle) points out, also includes branching. Schools that subscribe to Office 365 Education or Office Education E5 will see Microsoft Forms. What’s more, all Forms data is stored on servers located in the United States for safe-keeping!

More Marvelous Microsoft Mentions

Other Office 365 tools have also been enhanced to empower K-16 learners. Consider these enhancements:

  • Docs.com provides a great space to share and track what you’re creating in your classroom. You are now able to publish your documents, spreadsheets, and presentation. Once published, you can track access analytics for free. Find out more.
  • Sway, an alternative, mobile-friendly and responsive web design presentation tool, recently added an Accessibility Checker.
  • Edge Internet Browser now supports extensions, such as the Office Online extension (e.g. Chrome or Edge). This extension provides direct access to your Office files and enables you to create and open Word, Excel, Powerpoint, OneNote, and Sway documents right from the browser.
  • Powerpoint now has an automatic navigation link creation tool known as Zoom, as well as a new text highlighter tool.
  • Powerpoint and Excel now take advantage of shape recognition, converting drawings into shapes.
  • Word now features Researcher, a tool that helpsp you find relevant quotes, citable sources and images without leaving the app.

And, of course, boost your curriculum and lessons with Office 365 lessons available at the Microsoft Educator Community (http://education.microsoft.com). The future is bright, and options exist. Why not explore?


Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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