Our vision to close the broadband gap, improve teacher training and boost accessibility in the classroom

Video for Our vision to close the broadband gap, improve teacher training and boost accessibility in the classroom

With the start of the new year, we’re excited to head to London for the annual Bett UK education technology show where we’ll preview a number of new products and updates coming for the 2020-2021 school year. We’ll bring you along to Bett too, from the booth every day of Bett live from London in: “What’s new in Edu: Live from Bett”.

Join Leslie Fisher, and see for the very first time, new devices, tools and training resources coming soon to ensure you and your students have your best year yet!

Video for Our vision to close the broadband gap, improve teacher training and boost accessibility in the classroom

 

Closing the broadband gap with new devices that connect to cellular service and Community Learning Centers

One of the biggest challenges in global education is a lack of access to the internet. Students who lack broadband access at home or school are deprived of the information they need to complete their assignments and keep up with their peers, creating educational inequality and disadvantages that can impact them throughout their lives. In the U.S., the FCC estimates 70 percent of teachers assign homework that requires broadband access, yet broadband is not available to nearly 25 million people, 19 million of whom live in rural areas. Even among those who do have a connection, our data shows that nearly 163 million Americans are not using the internet at broadband speeds.

We’ve been investing in solving this multi-faceted problem for years with programs like the Airband Initiative, which aims to expand broadband access to underserved rural areas around the world. Today, we’re continuing to build on this commitment to connect every student to the internet by introducing two new Connected PCs, built and priced especially for education – the JP.IK Turn T101 and Positivo Wise N1212S.

These new devices, which will ship this summer, are our most affordable Connected PCs yet, with all the capabilities of Windows and Office and can be used anywhere there is cellular service. These devices will save schools thousands of dollars in server infrastructure and startup time and help the more than 1.15 billion students in rural and emerging markets around the world connect to the internet for the first time or dramatically improve their current connection. The JP.IK Turn T101 starts at just $299 USD and the Wise N1212S will start at $575 USD, both powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c with twice the battery life and 25 percent better performance than competing platforms, and like our other Windows PCs boasting the newest Qualcomm Snapdragon chipsets, they will have blazing-fast cellular connectivity.

We’re also proud to collaborate with T-Mobile to kick off a pilot next month that offers select districts in rural and underserved areas in the U.S. a chance to test the newest Connected PCs. T-Mobile shares our vision to empower students and provide connectivity and educational equality through their EmpowerED™ 2.0 program – and will provide the pilot schools with SIM cards and free 4G LTE coverage plans to get their new PCs up and running. For the rest of the world, we’re excited to partner with Vodafone to provide education-specific cellular connectivity plans to customers using the newest Connected PCs in Vodafone and Vodacom markets in Europe and Africa. Through the Connected Education program, Vodafone endeavors to digitalize school infrastructure and accelerate adoption of fast, secure internet access to schools and students around the world. Together, we’re excited to learn how these new devices and alliances could reshape the education landscape and reduce the broadband gap.

These new devices mark a big milestone in bringing equitable educational opportunities to students around the world, but it’s just the beginning. We’re also thrilled to partner with JP.IK to bring their Community Learning Centers – solar-powered, pop-up schools – to more than 130 underserved areas around the world, giving students a truly connected digital learning experience.

Our most affordable Windows 10 devices get even better

No matter your needs or your location in the world, we have the perfect Windows 10 device for you and your students, starting at $219 USD. Today, we’re excited to announce that our portfolio is getting even better. Together with our partners at Acer, Dell, HP, Lenovo, JP.IK and Positivo we’re enhancing 14 of our most affordable Windows 10 devices so you get even more bang for your buck, including:

  • NEW! Faster performance. Seven of our new devices include the newest Intel processor, which will give you 46 percent more system performance than before. Students can have multiple web browser tabs open while working on documents and collaborating with classmates without missing a beat.

  • NEW! Safekeeping for pens. One of the biggest complaints we hear from educators is that – while they love the benefits of having students write directly on their device screens – pens get lost frequently. But great news! In addition to a number of devices that include ways to tether pens, the newest Acer TravelMate Spin B3 and Lenovo 300e also have a pen “garage” built into the device so it’s less likely to wander off.  

  • NEW! Introducing indicator lights to show student progress. Teachers, have you ever wished you could look at the classroom from your desk or podium and see which students are good to go on their devices? Now you can! Five of our newest devices will include a built-in LED indicator light on the back of the device that can be used to indicate whether a device is charged and connected to the internet. Simply look for the light!

Check out these and our other great Windows 10 devices on our Windows Device Finder today!

 

Three Free New Tools to Make Teacher Training More Effective

Preparing students for the jobs of the future starts with training and retaining great educators today. Our new research – Staff of 2030: Future Ready Teaching – indicates only 38 percent of teachers believe their current training has equipped them to use digital technology for instruction, which is critical to their success as well as their students. As new Gen Z teachers are entering the workforce, it’s more important than ever for schools to offer a variety of training tools and build powerful professional development communities that help them thrive throughout the school year. We’ve got some great new (and totally free!) tools to help, including our new and improved Microsoft Educator Center with hundreds of great training resources available in more languages than ever before.

  • NEW! Conduct training and engage everyone in the audience using PowerPoint Live Presentations. Using PowerPoint for Web, which is part of Office 365 Education, you will soon be able to train teachers and engage every participant with the new live presentations feature. Schools can present slides and using a QR code or short link, viewers can join and follow along with live subtitles in more than 60 languages on their personal device, making it easy to present to a large group of teachers, students or parents who speak different languages. The feature also includes live reactions and a survey for participants that generates an email to the presenter with the aggregated audience feedback and corresponding recommendations, offering insights to improve future presentations and trainings.

 

  • NEW! Use Microsoft Stream to create training videos on web and mobile, including transcription in eight languages. Microsoft Stream, included in Office 365 Education, empowers organizations to teach and learn with video easily and securely. Coming soon to the Stream mobile app, video creation with the new Flipgrid camera integration makes it fun for anyone to personalize and share content in seconds. Stream will also soon support browser-based screen recording and editing, giving teachers and students new ways to create learning and training materials by recording and sharing screens, applications, or device camera feeds. Automatic captions and searchable transcripts now support eight languages, which allow learners to find information quickly. And to help improve learner focus, videos on Stream will soon support a voice enhance capability that removes background noise from videos recorded in classrooms and other noisy environments.

  • NEW! Unlock your students’ potential with Microsoft Teams Class Insights. Teaching is a team sport that requires students, teachers and parents to work together. That’s why we introduced capabilities like Class Insights in Microsoft Teams, to equip educators with more data on student performance and activity. We also made it possible for you to collaborate in safe and focused environments with Private Channels and added the Parent and Guardian Emails that summarize a student’s weekly progress and the week ahead. All these Teams improvements are designed to strengthen collaboration and engagement at your school.

 

And last, but certainly not least, we’re proud to be rolling out:

Free, built-in accessibility features in OneNote and Microsoft Edge to help every classroom be more inclusive

  • NEW! The new Microsoft Edge – secure, accessible and compatible with all your favorite websites and extensions! The web browser is the most used app in the classroom, so it’s crucial it has the built-in flexibility and accessibility to support every educator and learner. Now available for IT to download and deploy, the new Microsoft Edge web browser is designed to support inclusive classrooms with built-in tools allowing students to change text size, reading text aloud and even inking on PDFs right in the browser. Plus, we made Microsoft Edge even easier for users. Microsoft Edge is now powered by the same technology as Google Chrome to provide better compatibility for websites and extensions, allowing you to experience the web without using multiple browsers. You can even customize your web experience to access Office documents quickly when opening a new tab. Students and teachers working on shared computers can also sign into one or more profiles for quick access to their favorites, passwords, and more. Finally, the new Microsoft Edge browser has Microsoft security features and is simple to manage, with tools that make it easy for IT administrators to deploy and set district- or school-wide policies, as well as features to help protect students from phishing attempts and tracking.

  • NEW! OneNote Live Captions to help students’ focus, comprehension and retention. Recent studies have shown that students who use closed captions and interactive transcripts can maintain their focus and retain information better. You can already use captions and transcripts in many of our products like PowerPoint, Teams, Stream and Flipgrid, and now you can use captions inside OneNote as well! This month, we are rolling out a private preview of OneNote that allows students to connect OneNote to a Microsoft Translator session via a Join Code and receive the captions and translation stream. This allows captions from the educator speaking to flow directly into OneNote for reading, while still allowing the student to take notes. In addition, the student can pause the captions, highlight portions, and then have the entire transcription saved as a page into OneNote, features that will benefit all learners but especially those who may be hard of hearing or speak multiple languages.

And that’s just the beginning! Tune in throughout next week as we join education technology expert, Leslie Fisher in London to walk you through how to make this news you can use in the upcoming school year!

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