How Microsoft is modernizing the classroom with technology

Microsoft is a strong believer in empowering students to be independent through technology. Earlier this week, the Redmond-based company held a special education event at its flagship retail store to show what it and its partners are working on to help empower the children of tomorrow through their studies.

From accessibility programs, Minecraft virtual classrooms and HoloTours in Windows Mixed Reality, Microsoft enriching learning with the latest technology.

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Some school laptops, like the Dell Chromebook 11, come with lights to help students too shy or unable to raise their hands, but what about after the teacher calls on them? Snap + Core First is a symbol-based communication application designed to help those with speech and language disabilities express themselves in the classroom.

Part of Microsoft’s free Learning Tools, Immersive Reader can improve reading and writing for people regardless of their age or ability. The program can read text out loud, break it into syllables, and increase spacing between lines and letters for easier reading.

Microsoft Teams might seem simply like a Slack competitor for businesses at first blush, but it has also become an important tool for classrooms. The application can help drive collaborative classrooms, making team work on shared projects simpler, while giving students a space where they can all be heard no matter their ability to communicate.

OneNote is a powerful catch all tool for written notes, drawn diagrams and marking up papers. However, it’s made even better with all the collaborative features built into it, plus the ability to plug it directly into Microsoft Teams makes sharing the virtual classroom easy.

Like Audacity on steroids meets Office 365 or Google Drive, Sound Trap is a collaborative music making and sound mixing application made for everyone. Better yet, the software is all available on the web, so its platform agnostic; users on PCs, Macs or even Chromebooks can easily join add their own tracks, play with the synthesizer and add their touch to the music.

For everyone who went to school and remembers how terrible those algebra questions that asked you about ‘two trains leaving the station at different times,’ be jealous that there’s a better way now. Fluid Math adds a visual cue to equations, so you can really see which train arrive first and see the real impact numbers can have on life.

STEM is all the rage in schools and Microsoft is putting the curriculum to practical experiments. The Education Workshop is a collection of fun and practical experiments that has kids creating a controllable robotic hand, testing water quality and launching HotWheels cars through a loopy de loop. All the experiments are available for free online and are designed to be easy to construct from household items.

Programming can be tough to get into, but Microsoft MakeCode turns the process into a simple and visual plug and play interface. Once kids get the hang of programming robots or Arduino-controlled lights, they can switch the interface to JavaScript and really start learning how coding languages work.

Minecraft has proven to be a great educational tool already in its base form, but the Education Edition turns the experience into virtual classrooms. We got a short demo in which we created compounds from basic elements. Then we constructed a balloon by combining helium, latex and some twine to help some pigs fly.

Plugging directly into Minecraft: Education Edition, Code Connection lets you code scripts to automatically build structures in the game. Alternatively, students could give Agent Trials a try and program a robot to navigate through maze in Minecraft.

Go around the world and take a step back in time with HoloTour in Windows Mixed Reality. It’s one thing to read about the Roman Circus Maximus, but HoloTour lets you experience the scale of locations as if you’re right there. On top of that, the experiences blend together real-life 360 video with computer generated graphics for interactive experiences.

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