Each year at Microsoft Ignite—one of our largest and most popular events—we focus on sharing our most innovative updates with the world. The overarching theme for this year’s Microsoft Ignite event was how we are working to empower our customers, partners, and developers so that they can thrive in this exciting era of AI. 

We believe today's AI innovations will power a paradigm shift as big as mobile, cloud, web, or PC. That's why we were excited to announce more than 100 new updates across every facet of the Microsoft technology portfolio—many of which will have a direct impact on education in the coming weeks, months and years. Industry experts highlighted everything from game-changing generative AI that can help save time and transform learning to new cybersecurity features that will help keep schools safe from the latest cyberattacks. 

“With Microsoft Copilot I was able to near-instantly create an entire quarter-long, project-based learning assignment for fourth through eighth grades and simultaneously assign each of the Kansas standards that I had requested for every core subject.” – Olivia Sumner, fourth through sixth grade teacher, Wichita Public Schools, U.S.

At first glance, many of these announcements may seem like science fiction, but the era of AI is bringing about these and many other transformational changes to education which will help personalize learning for students of various abilities and better prepare them for the future of work. 

A new era of AI has arrived

AI was everywhere in this year’s Ignite sessions including Satya Nadella’s opening keynote and over 100 sessions! Copilot was one of the standout product innovations from Microsoft this year and we’re excited about its potential in education. According to latest Work Trend Index research report, 70% of Copilot for Microsoft 365’s earliest users say that using generative AI at work has made them more productive, with 68% saying it improved the quality of their work and 77% saying that they didn’t want to give it up.  

  • Copilot with commercial data protection for faculty (formerly Bing Chat Enterprise) launched earlier this year powered by world-class GPT-4 model to save educators and staff time and unlock creativity. Educators in Wichita Public Schools are leveraging the power of AI in Copilot to save valuable hours during lesson planning and to personalize learning content for students of various abilities. Check out our AI for education hub to learn how AI can support personalized learning, automate daily tasks, and provide insights for data-driven decision making.   
  • Copilot in Windows is the next step toward making Windows the destination for the best AI experiences. It empowers you to create faster and makes once complicated tasks simpler by using the power of AI to lessen cognitive load. Microsoft has made accessing the power of Copilot seamless as it’s always right there on the taskbar or with the Win+C keyboard shortcut providing assistance alongside other apps. These features are available in preview on the latest Windows devices—in the classroom, lecture hall or at home.  
  • Microsoft Copilot Studio announced at Ignite, is a low-code tool to customize Copilot for Microsoft 365 or build your own copilot experiences with Azure AI Studio. It brings together a set of powerful conversational capabilities including custom GPTs and generative AI plugins. IT can customize Copilot for Microsoft 365 with your own workloads—build, test, and publish standalone copilots and custom GPTs and manage and secure your customizations.  
  • Microsoft has demonstrated its commitment to Responsible AI practices. In partnership with Code.org, this week we announced Minecraft Hour of Code: Generation AI. With resources to help educators run Hour of Code events in their schools and teach computer science, Hour of Code encourages all students to explore coding and responsible AI in the fun and engaging Minecraft world.  
  • We announced numerous updates to Azure, including Microsoft Copilot for Azure—an AI companion for IT that simplifies day-to-day IT administration and helps IT teams unlock untapped Azure functionality.

  • Another announcement, Azure AI Studio, is a unified platform to help organizations more easily explore, build, test and deploy AI apps. Finally, Azure OpenAI Service allows you to build your own Copilot and generative AI applications. To see how these developments are being used in education, read how a young inventor in UAE is building an AI Tutor with Microsoft’s AI capabilities including Azure OpenAI Service. 

  • Learning Accelerators are AI-powered learning tools seamlessly integrated in Microsoft 365 Education to give individual students more opportunities to learn, practice, and receive specific coaching. Speaker Coach is a Learning Accelerator utilizing AI to give real-time pointers on pacing, pitch and filler words. Reading Progress leverages the power of Azure OpenAI Service to create personalized reading passages based on words or phonics rules that a class or specific student found most challenging. 

 Microsoft AI innovations are transforming how educators teach and students learn.

Unified and evolved cybersecurity tools

At Ignite, we also demonstrated our commitment to helping all organizations–including schools—keep their users and data secure. Considering more than 80% of malware attacks target the education sector, world-class cybersecurity solutions from Microsoft ensure that schools, districts, and ministries of education have the products and resources they need to establish and maintain a strong security posture. Microsoft technologies are built on trust. Moreover, we believe a school’s data is a school’s data—protected by the most comprehensive enterprise compliance and security controls—and is not used to train foundation AI models.   

  • The future of security means both leveraging security tools built with AI and building features that help protect AI. At Ignite, Microsoft announced the next major step in this industry-defining vision: combining the power of leading solutions in security information and event management (SIEM), extended detection and response (XDR), and generative AI for security into the first unified security operations platform.  
  • All of the Microsoft 365 Education plans offer built-in management and cybersecurity tools to help protect against threats. Microsoft 365 A5 plan allows you to integrate more advanced cybersecurity measures that make it easy to guard, manage, and maximize learning and productivity for students, educators, and staff. Connect with an expert to find out which plan has the right protections for your institution. 
  • Effective cybersecurity starts with knowledgeable leadership and educators. Enroll in the Protecting our Future course for leaders or the Building Cybersecurity Resilience course for educators on the Microsoft Learn Educator Center to implement CISA-recommended cybersecurity practices that foster awareness and preparedness, safeguard schools, and counter cyber threats effectively. 
  • Students can continue learning with the Minecraft Education Cyber Collection. The collection contains resources for learners from first grade through high school and is aligned to both Cyber.org and CSTA standards, meeting the needs of most school systems for cybersecurity education. 

Thrive in a changing world

The ways in which our tools are helping to prepare the workforce of tomorrow took center stage at Ignite, where we introduced a host of updates, ranging from improvements in the Microsoft Cloud to enhancements in the essential learning and creation tools used by schools every day. 

 Microsoft Teams and our latest AI tools can help educators, students, and leaders thrive.

  • Microsoft Teams enables effective collaboration and communication for more than 320 million users around the world and we’ve seen some amazing use cases in education. At Ignite, Microsoft has announced numerous AI-powered improvements to Microsoft Teams. As part of our continued efforts to provide updates and upgrades to the Microsoft Teams experience, the Teams for Education app has been re-designed on a foundation of speed, performance, and flexibility, and has now launched as the next evolution of Microsoft Teams—new Microsoft Teams for Education. To utilize these improvements, we recommend upgrading to new Teams as soon as possible.  
  • In this new era of AI, we are redefining cloud infrastructure, from silicon to systems, to prepare for AI in every school and business, and in every app. Updates to Microsoft Azure mean that IT admins can use tools like Azure AI Studio to create low-code AI services to create innovative solutions in schools. 
  • Microsoft Fabric revolutionizes data analytics for education, offering an integrated platform for streamlined processes and enhanced collaboration. With Microsoft Fabric, we are excited to explore unique education use cases to optimize student outcomes, modernize data management, and facilitate secure cross-campus research. 

If you weren’t able to attend live sessions, you can still watch many of them on-demand at Microsoft Ignite. You can also learn more about how Microsoft is bringing these exciting announcements to the classroom and the lecture hall at Microsoft Education or by signing up for a free online AI course using the Microsoft Learn Educator Center