Tag Archives: education

Microsoft Teams in Office 365 Education updates rolling out, with more coming soon |

Over the course of debuting Microsoft Teams in Office 365 Education, we’ve been privileged to have educators from across the globe join us in creating technology to foster collaborative classrooms and improve student learning outcomes.

Whether it’s through events like Hack the Classroom, or message boards on the Microsoft Educator Community (MEC), or in conversations over social media with our product team members, we’ve been listening to your feedback and incorporating your ideas and diversity of needs into the Teams experience.

Today, we’re taking time to share the latest updates from that continuous feedback, and we’re eager to share the excitement around how teachers have discovered ways to transform their classrooms and workflows with Teams, the hub for teamwork in Office 365 Education. It’s clear that Teams saves valuable teacher time and fosters a more modern classroom experience, and we see it in conducting virtual PLC meetings with the meet-now feature, and organizing group projects via channels. Take a look at how Teams and OneNote came to the rescue for a teacher on their sick day.

Create an assignment with a OneNote page

Since the start of the 2017 school year, educators have created over 10,000,000 student notebooks using the OneNote Class Notebook app, either stand-alone or as part of Microsoft Teams. The number one piece of feedback we’ve heard is to integrate OneNote even more deeply inside of Teams.

Today, we’re starting to roll out the ability for teachers to create assignments and attach a page from OneNote to distribute and ultimately grade. When creating an assignment, simply select a page from Class Notebook in the file picker, then choose a destination for distributing the assignment page in the student notebooks. We’ve had our private beta customers trying out this capability – here is what Amy Vester, Lead Teacher from Omaha Public Schools has to say:

“Having the Class Notebook in the Assignment feature of Teams is FANTASTIC! This ties Teams together even better for teachers. Having the Class Notebook just a click away is so much more convenient for teachers and their students.”

 

Efficient grading support for OneNote pages

This also includes the time-saving ability for teachers to easily pull up OneNote page assignments in the quick grading view of the Assignments app in Teams.

Class Notebook Addin integration with Teams

We’re excited to be updating the OneNote Class Notebook Addin to support Teams integration, answering a top request from User Voice. This allows teachers to create Teams assignments, plus grading, all from within the OneNote Desktop app. Here’s a short training video demonstrating exactly how this works.

In the coming days, we will be rolling out version 2.0.0.0 of the Class Notebook Addin to get this capability, and bring the Teams integration to the OneNote Windows 10 app, OneNote Online, and iPad later in November.

Support for permissions in the Collaboration Space

We recently put out a blog post detailing how teachers can now add permissions to the Collaboration Space for OneNote Class Notebooks created in Teams. This capability was enabled last week.

Assignment notifications

With today’s announcement, we have started to roll out new assignment creation notifications for our Microsoft Teams education customers. After the update, once the Teacher creates a new assignment, all students in a class will get notified in the activity bell and a rich assignment card will be visible in the conversation stream, presented with due date and a link to the assignment details.

In addition, here are some other exciting cases that comes along with this change:

  • Collaboration around assignment: Teachers and students can now easily facilitate contextual and relevant collaboration around the specific assignment in a class.
  • Assignments search: Teachers and students can now easily search for assignments with specific key words from the assignment title, helping them save time. Below, you’ll see an example where a student uses “essay” as a keyword that shows up in the search bar for easy navigation.

Student new file submission

Students will now be able to initiate their work using Office apps right in context of the assignment submission flow, helping them save time. This addition will also be helpful for students who might not have access to Office apps at home and would like to get started on their assignments there.

Assignment full screen view

We visited many schools and learned from teachers and students that having a full screen view makes working on assignments more immersive. With this addition, students and teachers will now be able to easily switch into full screen view while working on their assignment, making it more productive and delightful. Below you’ll see is an example of a student expanding to full screen view while working on an assignment.

Coming soon: We will be launching the following features in the next few months, thanks to your feedback

Multiple class distribution

We value any teacher’s productivity and the invaluable time that they would like to spend with their students. This update will allow teachers managing multiple classes to easily distribute assignments at once, as opposed to sending to every single class individually today. Once it is distributed, teachers can always edit or delete the assignment in their respective class teams.

 

 

Assignments on iOS and Android

Today, schools using Microsoft Teams for education in the classroom can download mobile applications from the iOS and Android app stores. Students and teachers are using it to collaborate, ask questions in the conversations stream, and access files stored in the class.

In the coming months we will be rolling out assignments to the Teams mobile app, where teachers and students will have easy access on the go. Students will be able to easily scroll through the list of assignments, turn in their work, and get notified on new assignments through their mobile app.  To the right you’ll find an example of a student view in which they can easily scroll through their list of assignments within a class.

Assignment List view

We’ve heard a lot of great feedback from various educators on the need for having both list and week view for assignments. In the coming months, students and teachers will get a quick and easy way to scroll through the list of assignments within a class, and a new way to toggle between the week and the list view. We will also add a new “go to today” capability for easy navigation.  Below is an example of a student viewing the list of assignments in a class.

FAQ

Q: How can a teacher delete any message in a class?

A: Once the IT Admin enables “Allow owners to delete all messages,” team owners will be able to delete any message posted by members in any team. The list of IT Admin control can be referenced here.

Q: How can IT Admins disable private chat for students?

A: IT Admins can toggle “Allow users to privately chat” for students to enable or disable private chat in their schools. The specific instructions on how to do this are here.

Q: What is the best IT Admin Support channel?

A: https://portal.office.com/adminportal/home#

We hope these Teams updates will continue to inspire how educators like you transform the classroom. As you continue to use Teams at your school, share your feedback, suggestions, and ideas! You can let us know of any functionality issues directly through the in-product feedback button, or you can send us your suggestions and ideas through User Voice – a feedback tool that our product team closely uses when continuing to update Teams. Finally, you can engage online and reach out on Twitter to @MicrosoftTeams, and you can follow @MicrosoftEDU for the latest updates on Microsoft Education.

Generation at risk of falling behind in tech skills unless computing education funding improves, report finds

A tenfold increase in computing education funding is needed or the UK risks seeing an entire generation fail to have the technology skills needed for the future, a new report has found.

The Royal Society study, which was co-funded by Microsoft, found that more than half of schools in England do not offer a GCSE in Computer Science, leaving many young people without critical experience in coding and programming.

It is estimated that around 85% of the jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t been invented yet, and these will require skills in areas such as robotics, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

In order to prepare the next generation for advances in technology, the Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of sciences, said more than £60 million needed to be injected into computing education over the next five years – a tenfold increase from current levels. This would give the area the same support as maths and physics.

School provision of GCSE Computing in 2015-16

Cindy Rose, Chief Executive of Microsoft UK, said: “Microsoft is dramatically scaling up its digital skills programme in the UK and we believe now is the time for the Government to do the same. The risk, if we don’t make these investments now, is that too many young people struggle to access new opportunities, and the UK loses its advantage in a world being transformed by technology.”

The report (below), which was also part-funded by Google and led by world-famous engineer Steve Furber, found that:

  • 54% of English schools do not offer Computer Science GCSE
  • 30% of English GCSE pupils attend a school that does not offer Computer Science GCSE – the equivalent of 175,000 pupils each year, almost a third of the total number in England
  • Bournemouth leads England with the highest uptake of Computer Science GCSE (23% of all pupils), with Kensington & Chelsea, Blackburn and City of London coming last
  • England meets only 68% of its recruitment target for entries into computing teacher training courses, lower than Physics and Classics
  • Only one-in-five Computer Science GCSE pupils is female

Only 11% of Key Stage 4 students took GCSE Computer Science (62,703 out of a total of 588,000) in 2017. The report also found that more than half of schools in England (2,703 out of a total of 5,135) do not offer Computer Science GCSE at all.

At local authority level, Bournemouth leads England with the highest uptake of GCSE Computer Science (23% of all pupils at Key Stage 4), followed by Central Bedfordshire (22%), Hartlepool (22%), Knowsley (20%) and Slough (20%). The City of London has the lowest uptake (4%) followed by Blackburn (5%), Kensington & Chelsea (5%), Carderdale (5%) and Rutland (5%).

The report also found that two-in-three schools in Hackney do not offer Computer Science at GCSE level, despite being located near the Silicon Roundabout, London’s tech hub. Nearby Islington only had six out of 14 schools offering the subject.

The Isles of Scilly (100%), Hartlepool (71%), Harrow (67%) and Bracknell Forest (67%) are the local authorities with the highest proportion of schools offering Computer Science GCSE, while Kensington & Chelsea (18%) sits at the bottom of the list, followed by Tower Hamlets (27%), Shropshire (27%), Rutland (29%) and Greenwich (29%).

The report, which was based on a survey, in-depth meetings with teachers and Government data, suggests that part of the problem with computing education is a lack of knowledge about the fast-paced technology sector among staff. One-in-four secondary school teachers surveyed took no professional development activities to enhance their knowledge of computing. The Government allocates just £1.2 million a year to training existing computing teachers, and the Royal Society called on the government to provide enough funding to train 8,000 secondary school computing teachers.

The Royal Society also found that just 20% of GCSE Computer Science candidates were female, falling to 10% at A-level
The Royal Society also found that just 20% of GCSE Computer Science candidates were female, falling to 10% at A-level

“For pupils to thrive, we need knowledgeable, highly skilled teachers,” Furber said. “The report paints a bleak picture in England, which meets only 68% of its computing teacher recruitment targets and where, as a result, one-in-two schools doesn’t offer Computer Science at GCSE, a crucial stage of young people’s education.”

Teachers told the Royal Society they are most confident with parts of the computing curriculum inherited from previous Information and Communications Technology courses, and 44% feel more confident in delivering the earlier stages of the curriculum.

Computing teachers are also in short supply, with the government meeting only 68% of its recruitment target for entrants to computing teacher training courses in England between 2012 and 2017. In Scotland, the number of computer science teachers has fallen by 25% in the past 10 years. There is also a shortage of trainees with enough specialist knowledge to teach a technical subject. While there are 65 Physics and 93 Maths teacher conversion courses available, none exists for computing. The Royal Society is calling for government funding on top of the £60 million to set up conversion courses so there is no personal cost to teachers and schools.

Student uptake of GCSE Computing in 2015-16

Reinforcing previous reports on the gender divide in computing lessons, the Royal Society also found that just 20% of GCSE Computer Science candidates were female, falling to 10% at A-level. There is a similar picture in Scotland, with a 20% female uptake at National 5. Chinese pupils and those from other Asian backgrounds are significantly more likely than white pupils and black pupils to study GCSE Computer Science (12.7% vs 7.5%, 5.5% and 4.1% respectively).

“The rate at which technology is transforming the workplace means that we live in a world where many primary schoolchildren will work in technology-based roles that do not yet exist, so it is essential that future generations can apply digital skills with confidence,” Furber added.

“Overhauling the fragile state of our computing education will require an ambitious, multipronged approach. We need to invest significantly more to support and train 8,000 secondary school computing teachers to ensure pupils have the skills and knowledge needed for the future.”

Girls work in school lab, with laptop on table showing science website
The Royal Society wants support for Computer Science to be on a par with maths and physics

Microsoft President Brad Smith told the CBI Annual Conference earlier this week that technology skills were in demand in the UK, and companies and that people of all ages needed to acquire the right knowledge and experience.

“It’s clear that 90% of jobs will need new digital skills; and it’s clear that employees don’t have the skills that employers require,” he told hundreds of business leaders at the event in London.

“That starts with bringing new skills into schools, bringing new initiatives like Computing at School, a programme we have been proud to support. It’s a programme that does what needs to be done – create a new curriculum to teach a new subject and provide professional development.”

Microsoft has also launched a programme to teach digital skills to people across the UK, to ensure the country remains one of the global leaders in next-generation technologies.

Introducing Education Resources, a source of Open Educational Resources within Office 365 |

Today we are launching the pilot between Open Up Resources and Microsoft Education. Open Up Resources is a nonprofit working to develop the highest quality full-course OER curricula, Common Core aligned, and provided for free to promote instructional equity. This curriculum was developed by Illustrative Mathematics, and currently covers 6th – 8th Grade Math. Any teacher can now easily sign up to use the Open Up Resources curriculum. With today’s announcement, Microsoft Education is offering this curriculum through OneNote , Forms and custom dashboards. This solution is free and can be used by teachers and students on any platform and device. 

The Office 365 Education solution takes the Open Up Resources curriculum and assessments and puts together a free solution that pulls together content, assessments and analytics.

  • Content: Organize all your class materials, including Open Up Resources, into one digital notebook with OneNote Class Notebooks. Then, create more compelling, interactive content that you can easily collaborate on with students and colleagues.  
  • Assessments: Quickly create basic surveys, quizzes, questionnaires, registrations and more with Microsoft Forms. Teachers can view results as they are submitted, and data can be easily exported to Excel for grading or be viewed in dashboards.
  • Dashboards: Monitor and analyze a broad range of live data from content engagement through easy-to-use dashboards, interactive reports, and compelling data visualizations with custom Dashboards provided by Microsoft Education.

To see how these three pieces tie together, we’ve put together a short video

Using the custom OneNote Class Notebook to access and deliver the Open Up Resources curriculum:

  • Teachers can distribute the Illustrative Mathematics course materials on any device via OneNote.
  • Students can write, draw, collaborate and save their work automatically in a personal digital notebook.
  • Real-time collaboration can occur around the materials: teacher-to-class, teacher-to-student, and student-to-student.
  • OneNote Class Notebooks integrate seamlessly with common LMS and SIS platforms.

          Open Up Resources content delivered in OneNote Class Notebooks

Last spring, both Buncombe County and Evergreen school districts engaged in a private pilot using the Open Up Resources materials in a OneNote Class Notebook. Here is what Stephanie Brucker, District Tech Coordinator from Buncombe County had to say:

 “The integration of the Open Up Mathematics resources into OneNote has allowed teachers in our district to truly integrate our one-to-one devices and mathematics in a powerful way to advance student learning. Utilizing OneNote and Illustrative Math together in the classroom has opened up a gateway to each student’s thoughts and ideas throughout the units. The collaboration of materials between OneNote and Open Up has actually increased the practice of mathematical discourse simultaneously with our digital initiative.”

Open Up Resources assessments have been integrated with Microsoft Forms. When a Class Notebook is created, the Forms are all automatically pre-installed into the Educators Forms library in Office 365 Education, ready to be distributed as assessments. Through assessments, delivered in Forms, benefits include:

  • Easy digital assessments
  • One-click assignment and efficient scoring
  • Support for differentiation through rapid, formative assessment insight.

Sample Open Up Resources assessments delivered in Microsoft Forms

For the pilot program, Microsoft Education has created custom dashboards that are tied to the Open Up Resources Class Notebooks and Forms data. =These dashboards will allow teachers to gain insights into the assessment data and trends.

  

Example analytics dashboard, pulling from the OneNote Class Notebook and Microsoft Forms assessment data

To help teachers and schools get up and running, we have put together Getting Started materials on the Microsoft Support site which includes instructions and support information.. 

If you or your district would like to participate in a pilot,

  • Go to the Open Up Resources site and sign up
  • Log in to the site
  • Request materials and check the box for “piloting Microsoft OneNote (see example below)

 “

We are excited for school districts to start piloting this new solution across Content (OneNote), Assessments (Forms) and Analytics.  Both OneNote and Forms are part of Office 365 for Education, which is free for teachers and students with a valid school email address.  

Twitter

Microsoft Education @MicrosoftEDU

Microsoft OneNote for Education @OneNoteEDU

Open Up Resources @OpenUpResources

Illustrative Mathematics @IllustrateMath

Minecraft: Education Edition brings The Oregon Trail Into The 21st Century | Minecraft: Education Edition

Minecraft Education partners with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Roald Dahl Estate, and Smithsonian to develop collaborative and engaging content.

Many adults today have engaged in learning through games – from designing history-themed board games to choose-your-own-adventure explorations. Educator practice and research over the past two decades documents the effectiveness of this approach. In the Level Up Learning study from Joan Ganz Cooney Center, nearly three quarters (71%) of teachers who use digital games reported that games have been effective in improving their students’ learning outcomes. Due to its open and immersive design, open world games like Minecraft can be utilized as a vehicle for storytelling, narration, and motivation in language arts and across the curriculum.

Educators and students in 115 countries have begun their journey with Minecraft: Education Edition. They tell us that using Minecraft to complement their existing curriculum has helped them improve student engagement, collaboration, and creative exploration. We have also seen App Smashing in education as ground-breaking educators find multiple products useful to integrate technology into existing instruction. So we asked ourselves, what would happen if we were to use Minecraft as an example of Game Smashing?

You’re about to begin a great adventure, traveling the Oregon Trail across the rugged landscape of North America.

It’s time to bring one of the most iconic games to life and reimagine it as a Minecraft world. Partnering with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Minecraft Education is proud to deliver The Oregon Trail Experience to educators and students around the world. Exclusively in Minecraft: Education Edition, classrooms can play through The Oregon Trail in Minecraft, from Independence, Missouri to the Oregon Coast.

We are delighted to partner with Minecraft Education, giving students a new way to experience one of the most popular educational games of all time, The Oregon Trail. Through the unique magic of Minecraft, students will be drawn to discover the wonders and challenges that pioneers encountered on this famous journey. -Caroline Fraser, SVP, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Over 15 learning experiences along the way enrich learning with activities in Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Visual Arts, and more and reach students regardless of grade level. Students can also add their own paths to the game and create their own 19th century communities along the journey.

The versality of Minecraft in the classroom continues to be demonstrated across the curriculum as well. This past Spring, we partnered with the Roald Dahl Estate on Imaginormous, a writing competition for elementary and middle school students. The winner’s story, Fluffletopolis, was turned into a Minecraft build by our friends at ShapeScape. We look forward to educators and students using this world, and the lessons we created alongside the Roald Dahl Team, to empower our next generation of storytellers and creators.

If you’re interested in getting started with an introductory level experience, Minecraft Education is partnering with Smithsonian for their Museum Day LIVE event on Saturday, September 23rd. By collaborating, we can bring together the amazing resources Smithsonian has with immersive Minecraft extensions to the existing lesson plans. Minecraft Global Mentor Ben Kelly already experienced these extensions with his students.

In an era where personalized learning is the goal, the ‘Museum of Me’ Project can be used to help educators find common interests with their students and identify career and curriculum areas to benefit everyone’s learning path. -Ben Kelly, Global Minecraft Mentor

We hope that educators around the world can engage students in conversations and activities ranging from how materials used for buildings is transformed over time, the size of the cosmos, and help their own students build a ‘Museum of Me’. Be sure to download your free ticket from the Smithsonian site, and join in an incredible experience later this month.

In support of creating great learning experiences like The Oregon Trail, Fluffletopolis and Museum of Me, we continue to add features to Minecraft: Education Edition. Next month we will introduce three new features for students and educators alike. As always, we are incorporating other new features from other Minecraft versions like stained glass, crafting recipe book, ravines, parrots, and the most important Minecraft block, coarse dirt (if this doesn’t sound exciting to you, ask your students).

Using Minecraft Structure Blocks, students will be able to export Minecraft creations in 3d and view them in Remix 3D along with manipulating them in Paint 3D. Educators can review geometric creations, create cut-away Minecraft models of plant and animal cells, and design cathedrals as part of a unit on the Middle Ages.

With the new Minecraft: Education Edition Book & Quill, students can create their own combinations of images and writing, and export these for assessment and presentations.

Students can now program Non-Playable Characters (NPCs) in the game using basic logic to create custom artificial intelligence as part of their worlds.

Please share your experiences with your community and with us at @playcraftlearn and through our educator community site on education.minecraft.net.

Here’s a 3-minute guide to get started with Minecraft: Education Edition |

Minecraft: Education Edition is an open-world game that promotes creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving in an immersive environment where the only limit is your imagination. Over the last year, the Education Blog has shared how Minecraft can help your students learn to code with Code Builder, or how it might help them shed their shells and explore a virtual horizon together.

We want you to feel that creativity and spirit of discovery for yourself soon, so we’ve put together a 3-minute step-by-step video tutorial for introducing Minecraft: Education Edition into your classroom today. You’ll also catch some tips on how you can take advantage of our Minecraft: Education Edition website, which features tutorials, lesson plans and guidance from other educators.

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One more thing: Beyond our offer of a free trial, you can check out our Minecraft: Education Edition sign-up page to learn how you can receive a one-year, single-user subscription for Minecraft: Education Edition for each new Windows 10 device purchased for your K-12 school.

Transforming education to deliver on the sustainable development goals |

[See full details of the Education Transformation Framework here]

Providing inclusive and quality education for all students is both a goal and challenge for education institutions. Ensuring students acquire the skills they need is crucial if we want to ensure the next generation’s ability to stimulate future economic growth – together we have a shared interest to transform education today.

At Microsoft, we recognize that technology alone cannot develop the 21st century skills students will require in their futures. To help educators achieve their goals of sustainable development through transforming education, Microsoft is focused on improving environments that support students, educators and parents in fostering 21st century learning to produce better learning outcomes.

The scale of education transformation outstrips current capacity, yet technology can empower education systems to bridge this gap. Governments will need to drive holistic education transformation, harnessing appropriate technologies to cater to the needs of students, educators, and educational institutions. Ensuring students and educators have access to devices, connectivity, content, and training is essential to making this transformation.

This is why we are working closely with governments on the Leading Countries of the World program. This program brings together countries, regions, states and provinces from across the globe, who are highly impactful in how they use technology in education. Facilitated by Microsoft and supported by the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education (IITE), LCW has been established to share best practice with our education systems who wish to digitally transform their approaches too.

Download the brochure for Leading Countries of the World here [PDF link]. Systems who wish to join the partnership can contact lcw@microsoft.com.

The first step toward quality education is to build educator, leader, and school capacity. We support national and regional education decision makers in building out their strategic plans for change and making wise choices in technology investments. Microsoft has committed more than $750 million over 15 years in professional development for educators and school leaders. Our professional development tools, courses, and certification empower educators to take charge of their own learning and continuously build their skills – and earn globally benchmarked credentials. Trained educators can design and lead 21st century learning activities in their schools and lead change from the grassroots.

Three young female students sitting with Windows devices open on an outside basketball court.

We recently announced the many educators, school leaders, and schools that are leading digital transformation in education through our Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert and Microsoft Showcase Schools programs. Through these programs, a growing community of more than 500 pioneering schools and more than 150,000 educators worldwide are participating in the Educator community. These extraordinary schools and educators demonstrate how powerful quality learning experiences can be when enabled by 1:1 Windows devices for students and Office 365 for collaboration. These creative schools mentor others as they evolve their approaches.

Literacy and numeracy targets can be achieved by equipping students with tools to support learning. Through offering students Office 365 for Education on up to five devices at no cost, we can boost student and educator productivity and collaboration throughout the teaching and learning process.

With education apps, we create experiences that unlock students and teachers to explore, experiment and express ideas in ways that deepen understanding and connection. Apps like Microsoft Math help students in South Africa and South East Asia demonstrate that appropriate apps, accessed through mobile devices, can raise student achievement. The Lit4Life.net platform empowers any educator or student to create and publish their own e-book using the Chekhov Story Author app. This is a vital tool to easily generate digital content for teaching and learning, and to improve literacy skills.

Vocational skills for employability are also critically important, to prepare students for their future working lives. Digital literacy and computational thinking can be built from the earliest stage with tools like Code Builder for Minecraft: Education Edition, which introduce students to coding. Through YouthSpark and Microsoft Imagine Academy, we support students through industry-recognized technology education, skills, and certifications they need to succeed in their future careers. In addition, the Microsoft Imagine program offers hundreds of free online technical skills courses for students.

The sustainable development goal targets are an inspiring challenge to galvanize the education sector into action. At Microsoft, we are proud to partner with national Ministries of Education, non-governmental organizations, and international organizations like UNESCO to transform education. We want to deepen and enrich our partnerships in education to help meet this challenge and make a real difference to students across the world.

Learn more about Microsoft Education and find resources to empower your schools and educators:

For more information, contact LWC@microsoft.com.

Bridging the gap through digital literacy – Asia News Center

“Providing access to quality education is a great way to build a society with inclusive growth. Governments and the private sector can play their role by trying harder to help those who do not have access or cannot afford it,” she says.

Reskilling is already a top agenda item for many countries in Asia. In Singapore, for example, Microsoft and LinkedIn, along with the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and public agencies, are collaborating on a study to identify the skills gap in the local workforce through big data and analytics. This is aimed at addressing the expected rise in the mismatch between skills and jobs amid digital disruptions across various industries.

The importance of digital literacy for the workplace of tomorrow is also increasingly being recognized across Asia. Many countries have partnered with Microsoft under its global YouthSpark program, which encourages youths to learn computer science and empower them to achieve more in the digital economy.

For example, for juvenile prison inmates in Malaysia, picking up coding is a chance at a fresh start. “Students who pass get a certificate. By giving digital literacy and skills training, this public-private sector collaboration helps former delinquents to increase their chances of successfully reintegrating into society and start life anew,” shares Tuminez.

In Vietnam, disadvantaged youths in fishing villages along coastal areas can now get easier access to learning facilities through a project called the Enabling Boat. A vessel functions as a mobile classroom providing underserved communities with access to resources and training related to ICT and computer science, as well as environmental conservation. The project aims to help them adapt to the digital economy and improve their livelihoods.

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Over in Japan, Microsoft partners with a non-profit organization called iLeap to provide training in leadership and digital skills in the U.S. for visiting groups of less privileged youth. They then get the chance to give back by working at NGOs at home and making use of their new technology skills.

“When we look at the incredible transformation that digital technologies are driving in our economies and societies, we should not ignore the disruption these technologies also bring and the skills that everyone, especially youths, require for future jobs,” says Tuminez.

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Globally, Microsoft supports the United Nation’s Sustainable Developmental Goals which aims to tackle some of the toughest problems worldwide by 2030, particularly in the areas of government, public safety, jobs, gender equality, national security, health, education and building next-generation cities. This is particularly critical for Asia, where these challenges are compounded by factors such as rapid urbanization and declining productivity.

Technology can play a key role in solving these issues, but governments must first develop strategies and well-defined policies. Then they can invest smartly, especially in education. “While technology can help, it is just a tool. Teachers need training to properly optimize technology for learning – because they are the single most critical factor. If they are afraid of technology, then their students lose out,” says Tuminez. “So much more can be accomplished in education when governments understand how technology can empower students, parents, teachers, and administrators. The results will speak for themselves, as we have already seen in many places.”

“Digital literacy is critical for everyone to participate meaningfully in the 4th Industrial Revolution, as new skills are needed to match the rapid pace of technological change in the digital economy,” she explains. “Relearning and upskilling will be the norm from now on.”

Google Chrome Enterprise adds management options

Chromebooks have found success in the education market and now Google is aiming to bring the Chrome OS to the enterprise with a suite of new features and security options.

Google Chrome Enterprise offers many of the same benefits as consumer Chrome OS, like automatic updates, but adds options such as 24/7 support from Google, management tools for the Google Play Store and Chrome extensions, and a new partnership with VMware allowing the use of VMware Workspace ONE as “the first third-party solution provider to manage Chrome devices.”

Sharon Vardi, CMO at Prevoty, the application security company based in Los Angeles, said Google Chrome Enterprise opening up to enterprise mobility management (EMM) partners was a big step.

“Up until now, only Google and a few other cloud services were able to design, implement and apply configuration and security policies for these devices and none were really enterprise ready,” Vardi told SearchSecurity. “Now with both the Active Directory integration and VMware integration, policing these devices becomes a much easier task whether they are owned by the enterprise or if they are personal devices that employees bring to the office and add to the network.”

Craig Young, computer security researcher for Tripwire’s Vulnerability and Exposures Research Team, said Google Chrome Enterprise could be a good option for “certain organizations looking for a locked down yet enterprise friendly computing platform.” 

“Chrome OS itself is based around Gentoo Linux and benefits heavily from Google’s heavy investments in security. Google has generally been on the cutting edge of vulnerability research particularly related to identifying memory safety issues, and I think they have done a lot of work to harden all components of Chrome OS,” Young told SearchSecurity. “Chrome OS is also backed by a standing bounty of $100K for anyone who can demonstrate an exploit chain yielding a persistent device compromise. Google also enables researchers with grants to perform security research as well as provides Google scale computing resources.”

In addition to the security of Google Chrome Enterprise, Vardi said the Active Directory integration should sway some IT staff.

“The one big problem this does solve that also ties into security is IT fragmentation in the enterprise with devices on the network that the enterprise has no control over and cannot be controlled via traditional CMDBs [configuration management databases] or EDR [enterprise data replication] solutions,” Vardi said. “With the announcement of their Active Directory integration for identity and access management of Chrome OS devices [this] is a big step forward to allowing these types of devices to be accepted on enterprise networks.”

Google Chrome Enterprise with Android apps

Although Google said not all Chromebooks will support the Play Store, even with a Chrome Enterprise license, the addition of Android apps to Chrome OS has been somewhat controversial. Some have said the addition of Android apps extends the functionality of Chrome OS, while others claim it could hurt Chrome’s appeal as a “thin client”.

Young said Chrome OS had also suffered from risks of “abuse from third-party content,” especially given security issues surrounding Chrome extensions, which Young said “can be extremely dangerous given their ability to read from and inject content into arbitrary web sessions.” 

“It looks like Chrome Enterprise could make strides to alleviate this concern for network administrators by providing managed Play Store and extensions,” Young said. “I’m not sure exactly what this will look like in practice, but my hope would be that an organization could configure their Chrome Enterprise stores to automatically install certain apps and deploy specific settings as well as also give users the ability to select and install pre-approved third-party content.”

Ultimately, Young said, Google Chrome Enterprise “could be a really ideal environment for an organization like a hospital where staff members currently use laptops, ultrabooks, or tablets to input data into clinical web or desktop applications. In addition to security benefits, Chromebooks can provide benefits in terms of operating expense and mobility.”

Humanitarian company uses Dynamics 365 for Talent for quicker deployment

Whether it’s responding to a natural disaster or helping a developing country improve its education system or water quality, international development company Chemonics needs to build out specialized business processes on the fly. That’s how it keeps more than 60 humanitarian projects around the world moving, despite each one having its own technological needs that are dependent on size, scope and location.

Roughly three years ago, the Washington, D.C.-based company began looking at business applications that could simplify the HR process of finding and hiring the necessary talent needed for their distinct projects, ultimately settling on Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 last October. But Chemonics was still longing for more HR capabilities, like onboarding and contract management, and it was looking at third-party tools to help fill the holes when Microsoft told them about a new feature coming down the line: Dynamics 365 for Talent.

The new Dynamics 365 feature, which was made generally available on Aug. 1, helps streamline routine tasks and automates staffing processes.

“Essentially, we build a brand-new company of anywhere from 15 to 20 people, to 400 to 500 people,” said Eric Reading, executive vice president at Chemonics. “Our business process and the way we organize ourselves needs to be very flexible and oriented around the rapidly changing nature of the geographic and organizational layouts of our company.”

‘We can work in real time’

Founded in 1975, Chemonics has done humanitarian work all over the globe, including current projects in Afghanistan helping with sustainable agriculture and literacy, policy reform in Jordan and health services in Angola, as well as dozens more. The process calls for a local office to be set up in the corresponding region, with recruiting and hiring of talent both worldwide and local to that region.

“We have roughly 4,500 staff around the world, with the smallest office being a half dozen staff and the largest around 400 people,” Reading said. “It’s a pretty dramatic range of scale we have to work in. A lot of those systems and processes we used were designed during a time when we used telex machines. Things were manual or with little automation due to the geographic separation.”

The growth of cloud hosting allowed Chemonics to think more modernly about its technology, as internet infrastructure can be spotty in some of the developing nations in which it works.

It took us to a place where it was possible to have our whole global organization operating on a single framework for IT and business process.
Eric Readingexecutive vice president, Chemonics

“It took us to a place where it was possible to have our whole global organization operating on a single framework for IT and business process,” Reading said. “We can work in real time and collaborate.”

Chemonics researched roughly a dozen different software providers, ultimately narrowing the list to four, then to two — Oracle and Dynamics 365 — before settling on Dynamics for its UI consistency, simplicity and licensing structure.

“The consistency of experience across different parts of the interface was valuable,” Reading said. “There are a lot of elements of business that have to be done a certain way because we’re a government contractor and work on programs that need to comply in a lot of different legal departments. It allowed us to do more at a deeper level without having to completely customize everything.”

And while Chemonics’ first iteration of Dynamics helped with collaboration and consistency among its global projects, it still left some features to be desired in the HR department.

“At the time, there was an incompleteness of the HR offering, and it didn’t satisfy our needs in that area,” Reading said. “We were evaluating options on what do we append in to get that resource functionality. We talked with Microsoft about it, and they asked us to give them a little bit of time to see what was coming down the road.”

Reading said Chemonics was one of the first Microsoft customers to set up Dynamics 365 for Talent for a project in the Dominican Republic.

“After [implementing Dynamics 365 for Talent], we stood up the Dominican Republic office in a 21-day period,” Reading said, adding that the typical goal is 60 days.

A screenshot showing the different steps of the onboarding process at Chemonics through Dynamics 365 for Talent. The new feature was generally released on Aug. 1.
A screenshot showing the different steps of the onboarding process at Chemonics through Dynamics 365 for Talent. The new feature was generally released on Aug. 1.

Integrating with LinkedIn

Dynamics 365 for Talent was one of two major upgrades that Microsoft brought to its business application earlier this year, with the other being bringing together LinkedIn Sales Navigator and Dynamics 365 for Sales, which allows Dynamics customers to mine LinkedIn’s 500 million members for additional sales leads.

Integrating LinkedIn’s vast amount of professional data into Dynamics also helps with the hiring process that Chemonics needed.

“The new offerings focus on the hiring process, the employee onboarding process and the underlying core needs of HR,” said Mike Ehrenberg, chief strategist for Microsoft. “We’ve had these abilities before, but it’s much more modern and richer now.”

Reading said Chemonics uses LinkedIn as one of the first places to find specialized and specific talent.

“We may need to find an expert in methodology of literacy that can work in a particular language,” Reading said. “Finding that specialized skill set and being able to link it from LinkedIn to the Talent offering is exciting.”

Prior to Dynamics 365 for Talent, the hiring process for Chemonics’ different projects was manual — and the results varied.

“We often had lots of one-page Word documents that may or may not get reused,” Reading said. “We’d have checklists and other manual management work that had a fair level of inconsistency with it.”

Licensing easy to work with

The final aspect that drew Chemonics toward Dynamics 365 was the malleable licensing Microsoft offered, with both an overarching license for management and administrators and a team member license for employees with a simpler routine.

“Our organization doesn’t break down neatly among traditional roles,” Reading said. “The licensing made it easier to manage the process and much more competitive on a pricing standpoint.”

The full use of Dynamics 365 cost $210 per user, per month, with team members’ licenses costing $8 per user, per month to execute basic processes and shared knowledge. There’s also an operations activity license for $50 per user, per month and an operations devices license for $75 per user, per month. Microsoft also offers other cheaper, stripped-down licenses of Dynamics 365, some of which don’t include Dynamics 365 for Talent.

Get ready for back to school with Microsoft’s latest programs and deals

Well gang, it’s officially August, and our wonderful teachers are setting up their classrooms, and parents and students are starting to fill backpacks and dorm rooms with supplies.

Three students seated at a table smiling at the camera.

To help prepare for the school year ahead, today, we’re sharing new deals and programs from Microsoft and our partners to get you the best offers on the latest hardware – whether you want a new Surface Laptop, a powerful new Surface Pro, or the latest PC from Dell, HP, or Samsung – we’re here to help.

Back in May, we shared our vision for how technology can inspire creativity in the classroom with the announcement of a set of products and tools inspired by teachers and students, including: a new Windows experience called Windows 10 S – streamlined for simplicity, security, and superior performance – new collaboration experiences in Microsoft Teams, new features in Minecraft: Education Edition, and a range of affordable Windows 10 PCs built for students of all kinds. We also announced the newest members of the Surface family – Surface Laptop powered by Windows 10 S and the all new Surface Pro – both built with superior performance and power to help you better create and be more productive. With any of these devices, you can take advantage of Windows Ink to easily make notes directly on a web page in Microsoft Edge, bring your ideas to life with Paint 3D, keep track of your lists with OneNote – free in the Windows Store, and more.

We also offer Office 365 for Education –  the most complete, intelligent, and secure service for teaching and learning – free for students, faculty, and staff. Office 365 for Education is the broadest and deepest toolkit for content creation, personalized learning, and modern classroom collaboration.

These new products, tools, and programs are designed to empower today’s students and teachers to create the world of tomorrow – we cannot wait to see what you will do!

Just in time for school, we’re announcing a new way to buy the latest Surface device

Woman sitting on bed holding a mug working on Surface Book.

With Surface Plus students can take home one of our best in class Surface devices like Surface Laptop, Surface Pro, Surface Book, or Surface Studio – all for a low monthly payment and 0% interest. Surface Plus also offers customers the opportunity to upgrade their device after 18 months for no additional cost, access exclusive deals and get the best in service and support. Available exclusively at Microsoft Store and Microsoft.com, take advantage of Surface Plus and experience the power of Surface. To learn more about this program, head over to our Devices Blog to get all the details, or come into a Microsoft Store and let us help find the right Surface for you with a device fitting.

Introducing Back to School LIVE

Back to school LIVE

The education team introduced Back to School LIVE, a new series designed to help teachers get ready for the new school year with online workshops, tweetmeets, and tips on exciting new products like Microsoft Teams and Minecraft: Education Edition. The series will kick off with a global #MSFTEduChat TweetMeet on August 15 at both 10 a.m. PT and 4 p.m. PT.  Then, on August 16, we will host a “Back to School LIVE” to help you get started in some of our newest tools for the classroom. To learn more about Back to School LIVE, visit the Microsoft Education Blog.

We’ve also rounded up some of the top Windows 10 PC deals to pack your bags with:

    ASUS Premium 2-in-1 Q series Laptop
    Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming
  • Fujitsu offers over 20 devices with various solutions and services around the world for education: Check out their website for more information about these devices.

HP ENVY 27 AIO with keyboard and mouse

  • Get a Lenovo N23 ($249 USD) and N24 ($279 USD) with Windows 10 S, available worldwide just in time for heading back to the classroom.

Samsung Notebook 7

  • Get $200 off the Samsung Notebook 7 2-in-1 PC the weeks of 7/30-8/5 and 8/13-8/19 in addition to the $125 Back-to-School deal promotion for students.

Toshiba-Portege-x20w

  • Get at least $150 off any featured Toshiba laptop computer purchased through toshiba.com until August 31. Restrictions may apply.

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 shown with blue Type Cover and Surface Pen.

  • Save up to $150 on Surface Pro 4: These well-crafted, beautiful devices empower the creator in all of us. Surface Pro 4, a device that offers the balance of portability and performance of a laptop when you’re on the go, perfect for anyone taking a device to class.

HTC Vive Headset

  • Save $200 on HTC Vive with the purchase of select VR-Ready PCsThe HTC Vive allows true-to-life immersion in the virtual world thanks to a high-resolution headset display, stunning graphics, two wireless controllers with haptic feedback and room-scale motion tracking. Want to test it before you buy? You can try HTC Vive for yourself at select Microsoft Store locations.
  • Get 20 percent off on Hyper X Headphones with Xbox One console or PC purchaseA feast for ears, sharpen your competitive edge with Hyper X Headphones and hear every detail of your favorite game without sacrificing comfort. Find something to celebrate the accomplishments for anyone on your list at your local Microsoft Store and Microsoft.com.

Students can also take advantage of some great deals available at Best Buy and BestBuy.com/studentdeals:

Student looking at new PC at Best Buy with Best Buy associate.

  • Save an extra $100 on select Laptops (Windows 10 laptops)
  • Save an extra $125 on select Desktop & All-In-One Computers (Windows 10 Desktops & All-In-One Computers)
  • Save up to $125 on select ASUS Q series Notebooks, Gaming Notebooks, and desktops
  • Save $130 on Samsung Galaxy Book through Sept 2
  • Save 10% on new Surface Devices (Surface Laptop & Surface Pro)
  • Save $40 on Microsoft Office with qualifying purchase

Visit BestBuy.com/studentdeals to sign up to receive exclusive coupons you can redeem in-store and online for these deals and more.

We hope you take advantage of some of these great deals and are wishing all the students out there a fantastic school year in 2017/8. To ALL our teachers – we are grateful and know that technology is only a small part of the incredible work you do to inspire the next generation of creators. Here’s to you!