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Creating Worlds of Tomorrow: Microsoft Update

Microsoft update
Written by Miguel Guhlin

Today’s Microsoft update shows that at least one tech company has been listening to educators. Learn what’s coming to your school in this blog.

“To predict the future, invent it,” said Alan Kay. The quote perfectly describes Microsoft’s successful May 2, 2017 event, Learn What’s Next , and some of the  innovative teaching and learning possibilities Microsoft has created. Let’s take a moment to quickly review what those updates are and how they approach creating worlds of tomorrow. You can also watch the event on demand and follow the buzz via the Twitter hashtag, #MicrosoftEDU.

Innovation #1 – $189 New Windows 10 Education PCs and Software

create worlds

Photo Credit: @Surface

Creating worlds of tomorrow involves new technologies, including 3D ways of looking at the real and virtual world. Microsoft announced a new version of Windows 10 known as Windows 10 S, where the S represents security, simplicity, and superior performance. Paired with an offer available for all schools, Windows 10 S is free for installation on current Windows Pro PCs. If you need apps that are not in the Windows Store, you can still get them if you have Windows Pro on your device. Microsoft Intune for Education, an easy way to manage Windows PCs, is also now available and will make it easier for district IT staff to manage the devices. Intune will sell for $30/license. Curious about the new Windows Surface laptop? Check out the specifications for the $189 Surface laptop.

But wait, there’s more! The free Microsoft Office 365 for Education now integrates Teams, Microsoft’s newest chat-based workspace, for use in Microsoft Classrooms via an incredible update. This will allow for greater and easier collaboration among students and staff.

Innovation #2 – Minecraft (MCEE) Adds a Coding Agent

Microsoft updateWish you had a digital assistant to help you build a virtual world? Now you do. Minecraft: Education Edition (also known as MCEE and in use in 100 countries) now has a mod known as Code Builder, which makes building and creating in the online virtual world as easy as drag and drop. In the on-screen demo, students use block coding strategies with Tynker (Scratch is also available) to direct the Agent, which appears on the screen as a robot. The robot can be programmed to build and create structures in virtual space. This is absolutely mind-blowing! Over 50 million instances of Minecraft Hour of Code have already highlighted how budding coders are learning to create and manipulate their virtual environment in real time. Now you’ll be able to combine Tynker and/or Javascript (for more advanced coders) with MCEE without having to leave the virtual world. Minecrafters simply type /code to connect to Tynker or Javascript. And all new Windows 10 education PCs now come with a free one-year subscription to MCEE. Both of these updates offer fantastic opportunities for schools, taking MCEE into the realm of coding to solve real-world problems.

Innovation #3 – Free STEM Projects and Lessons

Control a robotic finger made from a straw, stream data into MS Excel, and design a moving dragon. These are only three examples of newly available pop-up STEM experiences that will appear in May, along with summer programs, at select Microsoft stores. Add these to the existing library of content available via Creative Coding through Games and Apps (CCGA) and K-12 schools have access to an array of learning possibilities.

Innovation #4 – Windows Mixed Reality Brings 3D into Classrooms

create worlds

Image Source: 3D4medical.com

“Learning is an endless pursuit,” says Panos Panay (@panos_panay), Microsoft Surface engineer, as he lovingly describes engineers seeking to design new Surfacebooks and tablets. These words are echoed in every aspect of Mixed Reality, a new technology that models field trips to space and places students into a 3D reality. This is the power of mixed reality that merges physical and virtual worlds. See it in action via this video.  Mixed Reality works with any Windows 10 computer equipped with a built-in or external webcam. Even better, it is available at no cost.

Another incredible addition is 3D4Medical, which transforms medical learning using the Microsoft Surface laptop (available June 15 for $999; pre-order today). What’s more, Microsoft, 3D4Medical, and Pearson have combined to make a variety of other innovative courses available.

Innovation #5 – New Surface Laptop with 14.5-Hour Battery Life

One of the stunning announcements of the morning included demonstrations of the new Surface Laptop, available in multiple colors and boasting a 14.5-hour battery life (outperforming Apple’s Mac at 10 hours of life). This incredible device appears light, sleek, and powerful. It’s great for use anywhere and by anyone. It is available for purchase beginning today at a price point just shy of $1,000.

Microsoft update

Photo Credit: The Next Web

Implications for K-16

Wondering how these revelations impact K-16 education? While new technology is always exciting, Microsoft Intune brings new mobile device management tools to Windows 10 S devices, making them a solid option for cost-conscious education leaders. The free, albeit for one year, Minecraft:Education Edition with Code Builder, the no-cost Mixed Reality, and pop-up experience STEM lessons and curriculum make today’s update a visionary and breathtaking view of what’s possible tomorrow.

 

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About the author

Miguel Guhlin

Director of Professional Development at TCEA
A former director of technology, Miguel brings a unique perspective to TCEA’s professional development team. He specializes in Microsoft’s educational products and has extensive instructional technology experience. A prolific writer, Miguel blogs at Around the Corner and for TCEA’s TechNotes Blog. Miguel earned both his Master’s degree in Bicultural/Bilingual Studies with an ESL Concentration and his B.A. at University of Texas, San Antonio.

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