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Microsoft Power Platform adds chatbots; Flow now Power Automate

More bots and automation tools went live on the Microsoft Power Platform, Microsoft announced today. In their formal introductions, Microsoft said the tools will make data sources flow within applications like SharePoint, OneDrive and Dynamics 365, and create more efficiencies with custom apps.

The more than 400 capabilities added to the Microsoft Power Platform focus on expanding its robotic process automation potential for users, as well as new integrations between the platform and Microsoft Teams, according to a blog post by James Phillips, corporate vice president of business applications at Microsoft.

Some of those include robotic process automation (RPA) tools for Microsoft Power Automate, formerly known as Flow, which makes AI tools easier to add into PowerApps. Also newly available are tools for creating user interfaces in Power Automate.

AI Builder adds a point-and-click means to fold common processes such as forms processing, object detection and text classification into apps — processes commonly used for SharePoint and OneDrive content curation.

Microsoft is adding these tools, as well as new security features to analytics platform Power BI, in part to coax customers who remain on premises into the Azure cloud, said G2 analyst Michael Fauscette.

PowerApps reduce the development needed to create necessary connections between systems in the cloud, such as content in OneDrive and SharePoint with work being done in Dynamics 365 CRM, Teams and ERP applications.

Microsoft Power Automate, formerly Flow
Microsoft Power Automate, a low-code app-design tool,is the new version ofFlow.

Chatbots go live

Also announced as generally available at Microsoft Ignite are Power Virtual Agents, do-it-yourself chatbots on the Microsoft Power Platform.

They’ll likely first be used by customer service teams on Dynamics 365, said Constellation Research analyst R “Ray” Wang, but they could spread to other business areas such as human resources, which could use the bots to answer common questions during employee recruiting or onboarding.

If an agent is costing you $15 an hour and the chatbot 15 cents an hour … it’s all about call deflection.
R ‘Ray’ WangAnalyst, Constellation Research

While some companies may choose outside consultants and developers to build custom chatbots instead of making their own on the Microsoft Power Platform, Wang said some companies may try it to build them internally. Large call centers employing many human agents and running on Microsoft applications would be logical candidates for piloting new bots.

“I think they’ll start coming here to build their virtual agents,” Wang said. “[Bot] training will be an issue, but it’s a matter of scale. If an agent is costing you $15 an hour and the chatbot 15 cents an hour … it’s all about call deflection.”

Microsoft Power Platform evolves

PowerApps, which launched in late 2015, originally found utility with users of Microsoft Dynamics CRM who needed to automate and standardize processes across data sets inside the Microsoft environment and connect to outside platforms such as Salesforce, said Gartner analyst Ed Anderson.

Use quickly spread to SharePoint, OneDrive and Dynamics ERP users, as they found that Flow — a low-code app-design tool — enabled the creation of connectors and apps without developer overhead. Third-party consultants and developers also used PowerApps to speed up deliverables to clients. Power BI, Power Automate and PowerApps together became known as the Microsoft Power Platform a year ago.

“PowerApps are really interesting for OneDrive and SharePoint because it lets you quickly identify data sources and quickly do something meaningful with them — connect them together, add some logic around them or customized interfaces,” Anderson said.

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Unlocking opportunities in the next frontier of IoT

We live in an increasingly connected world. I commute to work in a connected car, one that gets over-the-air updates with new experiences. I’m connected to my work and personal life in real time with my smartphone and laptop. And I work in a connected office, one that knows how to automatically save energy and ensure security. From the moment I woke up today, I was immersed in an IoT world.

And so were you.

We are surrounded by connected devices, all of them collecting and transmitting vast amounts of information. That makes a seamless, smart and secure Internet of Things (IoT) important to us all.

This week at IoT Solutions World Congress we are announcing new capabilities that further simplify the customer journey and deliver highly secured IoT solutions. These solutions help customers embrace IoT as a core strategy to drive better business outcomes, improve safety and address social issues, such as:

  • Predicting and preventing equipment failures
  • Optimizing smart buildings for space utilization and energy management
  • Improving patient outcomes and worker safety
  • Tracking assets across a supply chain that is constantly being optimized

IDC expects that 41.6 billion devices — including smartphones, smart home assistants and appliances — will be connected to the internet by 2025[1].

At Microsoft, we are committed to providing a trusted, easy-to-use platform that allows our customers and partners to build seamless, smart and secure solutions regardless of where they are in their IoT journey.

Making IoT seamless: Delivering new IoT innovations from cloud to edge

In 2018, we  announced our commitment to invest $5 billion in IoT and intelligent edge — technology that is accelerating ubiquitous computing and bringing unparalleled opportunity for transformation across industries. Since then, we have launched more than 100 new services and features in our IoT platform designed to make IoT solutions more secure and scalable, reduce complexity, make our platform more open and create opportunities in new market areas.

Azure IoT Central, our IoT app platform, reduces the burden and costs associated with developing, managing and maintaining enterprise-grade IoT solutions. With IoT Central you can provision an IoT application in 15 seconds, customize it in an hour and go to production the same day.

And today, we are excited to announce a set of breakthrough features to help solution builders accelerate time-to-value:

  • 11 new industry-focused application templates to accelerate solution builders across retail, health care, government and energy
  • API support for extending IoT Central or integrating it with other solutions, including API support for device modeling, provisioning, lifecycle management, operations and data querying
  • IoT Edge support, including management for edge devices and IoT Edge module deployments
  • IoT plug-and-play support for rapid device development and connectivity
  • The ability to save and load applications to enable application repeatability
  • More data export options for continually exporting data to other Azure Platform as a Service (PaaS) services
  • Multitenancy support to build and manage a single application with multiple tenants, each with their own isolated data, devices, users and roles
  • Custom user roles for fine-grained access control to data, actions and configurations in the system
  • A new pricing model for early 2020 to provide customers and partners with predictable pricing as usage scales

A variety of partners are already using IoT Central to transform their industries. For example, C.H. Robinson, a Fortune 500 provider of multimodal transportation services and third-party logistics, is using Intel intelligent gateways and IoT tags managed by IoT Central, allowing it to quickly integrate IoT data and insights into its industry-leading Navisphere Vision product. Key retailers are using Navisphere, including Microsoft’s own supply-chain teams who are optimizing logistics and costs as we prepare to deliver Surface and Xbox products for the holidays.

Read more on our IoT Central blog about how partners are leveraging IoT Central to transform their businesses and their industries.

Making IoT smarter

Azure IoT Hub is the core of our Azure IoT platform services. It is used by IoT Central and acts as a powerful cloud gateway, enabling bidirectional communication with millions of IoT devices. We are excited to announce new features that will make IoT solutions using IoT Hub even smarter:

Maersk, the world’s largest container shipping company, is using IoT Hub to move over 12 million containers a year all over the globe. “With Azure IoT Hub, we have seamless two-way communication between our IoT platform and devices,” says Siddhartha Kulkarni, digital solutions enabler, A.P. Moller – Maersk. “The ability to send commands from within Azure IoT Hub makes it a command and control system and not just a data ingestion system. Being able to set up Azure IoT Hub globally in different locations and regionalize data ingestion opens up many future options for us.” Read the Maersk customer story here.

And Danfoss, a Danish company that creates products and provides services used to cool food, heat and air condition buildings and more, is using Azure IoT Hub to build IoT solutions with reliable and secure communications between its IoT devices for refrigerators and an Azure-hosted solution backend.

Azure Maps inherits the goodness of Azure — including global scalability, robust security and data sovereignty — and provides location intelligence to IoT applications with mapping and geospatial services to drive insights and action.

For 12 consecutive years, Gartner has recognized Microsoft as a leader in analytics and business intelligence. With integration into Power BI, Azure Maps now enables Power BI users to easily perform Geospatial Analytics, enabling customers to build out Azure Maps solutions that don’t require developer resources. And to provide world-class security, protection and compliance to government customers, Azure Maps is now available on Government Cloud.

And now, in partnership with AccuWeather, Azure Maps customers can add geospatial weather intelligence into their applications to enable weather-based scenarios, such as routing, targeted marketing and operations optimization. “This is a game changer,” says Dr. Joel N. Myers, AccuWeather founder and CEO. “AccuWeather’s partnership with Microsoft gives all Azure Maps customers the ability to easily integrate authentic and highly accurate weather-based location intelligence and routing into their applications. This opens up new opportunities for organizations large and small to benefit from our superior weather data based on their unique needs.”

Azure Time Series Insights provides a turnkey, end-to-end IoT analytics solution with rich semantic modeling for contextualization of time series data, asset-based insights, and a best-in-class user experience for discovery, trending, anomaly detection and operational intelligence. It is purpose-built for IoT scale data, allowing customers to focus on their businesses without having to worry about manageability of their infrastructure, regional availability or disaster recovery. We are excited to announce the new capabilities, releasing soon:

  • Multilayered storage that provides the best of both worlds: lightning-fast access to frequently used data (“warm data”) and fast access to infrequently used historical data (“cold data”)
  • Flexible cold storage: Historical data is stored in the customer’s own Azure Storage account, giving them complete control of their IoT data. Data is stored in open source Apache Parquet format, enabling predictive analytics, machine learning, and other custom computations using familiar technologies including Spark, Databricks and Jupyter
  • Rich analytics: Rich query APIs and user experience supported interpolation, new scalar and aggregate functions, categorical variables, scatter plots and time shifting between time series signals for in-depth analysis
  • Enterprise-grade scale: Scale and performance improvements at all layers, including ingestion, storage, query and metadata/model
  • Extensibility and integration: New Time Series Insights Power BI connector allows customers to take queries from Time Series Insights into Power BI to get a unified view in a single pane of glass

Through our Express Logic acquisition, Azure RTOS (real-time operating system) continues to enable new intelligent capabilities. It unlocks access to billions of new connected endpoints and grows the number of devices that can seamlessly connect to Azure. Renesas is a top MCU (MicroController Unit) manufacturer who shares our vision of making IoT development as easy and seamless as possible and we are excited to announce that Azure RTOS will be broadly available across Renesas’s products including the Synergy and RA MCU families. It is already integrated into the Renesas Synergy Software Package and will be integrated out-of-box with the Renesas RA Flexible Software Package).

Making IoT more secure, from cloud to edge

Enabling a future of intelligent and secure computing at the edge for organizations, enterprises and consumers will require advances in computer architecture down to the chip level, with security built in from the beginning. Microsoft is taking a holistic approach to securing the intelligent edge and IoT from the silicon to the cloud in a way that gives customers flexibility and control.

Azure Sphere is quickly becoming the solution of choice for customers across industries — including Starbucks, Gojo and Leoni — as they look to securely connect existing mission-critical equipment and develop net-new devices and equipment with security built in. Today we are excited to announce the upcoming general availability of Azure Sphere in February 2020. Read more about the upcoming Azure Sphere general availability on the Microsoft Security blog.

Our mission is to set a new standard for IoT security that makes it easier to securely connect existing equipment and create new devices with built-in security. In April 2018, we introduced Azure Sphere as an end-to-end solution that includes an Azure Sphere-certified chip, the Azure Sphere Operating System and the Azure Sphere Security Service. The solution is designed to make it easy for manufacturers to create innately secure devices and keep those devices up-to-date over time with over a decade of security and OS updates delivered directly to each device by Microsoft.

Since we first introduced Azure Sphere, we’ve made tremendous progress delivering on our ambitious product vision, investing in partnerships and capabilities that help us serve customers wherever they are in their IoT journey. This includes our partnerships with silicon leaders to enable heterogeneity at the edge; our longstanding partnership with MediaTek, and our recent partnership announcements with NXP and Qualcomm, which will introduce the first cellular-enabled Azure Sphere-certified chip.

Discover how to unlock your own IoT opportunities

We have a number of ways to learn more, no matter what your goals are and where you are on your IoT journey.

  • Come see us at IoT Solutions World Congress 2019 in Barcelona, Oct. 29–31, 2019. We will be bringing IoT solutions to life in our booth (#D411), across various industries and scenarios:
    • IoT at Home, featuring ABB & EnOcean
    • IoT on My Commute, featuring Dover Oil & Accenture
    • IoT in the Office, featuring Bosch & Edge
    • IoT in Store, featuring Codit & Cognizant
    • IoT for a Drink, featuring Celli Group
    • IoT in the Factory, featuring Softing & PTC
  • You can also catch my keynote on Tuesday, Oct. 29, Unlocking the Next Frontier of the Internet of Things.

IoT has already revolutionized our lives by transforming everyday devices into an incredible connected universe. The question now is, are you ready for what’s next?

[1] Worldwide Global DataSphere IoT Device and Data Forecast, 2019–2023, Doc # US45066919, May 2019

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Announcing AI Business School for Education for leaders, BDMs and students | | Microsoft EDU

We live in an ever more digital, connected world. With the emergence of Artificial Intelligence, the opportunity we have to provide truly personalized, accessible learning and experiences to all students around the world is now upon us. Leaders in education have the opportunity to dramatically impact outcomes more than ever, from changing the way in which they engage with students throughout the student journey, to providing truly personalized learning, to improving operational efficiencies across the institution. At Microsoft, our mission in education is to empower every student on the planet to achieve more. Through that lens, we believe education leaders should consider opportunities to introduce new technologies like AI into the design of learning and technological blueprint to expand the horizon for driving better outcomes and efficiencies for every student and institution around the world.

That’s why I’m excited to share that Microsoft’s AI Business School now offers a learning path for education. Designed for education leaders, decision-makers and even students, the Microsoft AI Business School for Education helps learners understand how AI can enhance the learning environment for all students—from innovations in the way we teach and assess, to supporting accessibility and inclusion for all students, to institutional effectiveness and efficiency with the use of AI tools. The course is designed to empower learners to gain specific, practical knowledge to define and implement an AI strategy. Industry experts share insights on how to foster an AI-ready culture and teach them how to use AI responsibly and with confidence. The learning path is available on Microsoft Learn, a free platform to support learners of all ages and experience levels via interactive, online, self-paced learning.

The Microsoft AI Business School for Education includes a number of modules across sales, marketing, technology and culture, but most importantly, it calls upon the expert insights from education leaders including:

  • Professor Peter Zemsky uses INSEAD’s Value Creation Framework to show the advantages AI presents for educational institutions and how an organization can determine the right approach that works with their strategy and goals.
  • Michelle Zimmerman, author of “Teaching AI: Exploring New Frontiers for Learning,” shares her experience as an educator and why she sees believes AI can transform how students learn.
  • David Kellerman of the University of New South Wales (UNSW) shares his perspective on what’s unique about AI in higher education and how using AI can transform the way institutions collaborate and encourage students to be lifelong learners. As a key research institution in Australia, the University of New South Wales (UNSW)is focused on being a learning institution that collaborates across academic and operational departments as it uses AI to create a personalized learning journey for students. Dr. Kellerman shares his perspective on what’s unique about AI in higher education and how using AI to transform the way institutions collaborate can create students that are lifelong learners.

The Microsoft AI Business School for Education joins a larger collection of industry-specific courses including financial services, manufacturing, retail, healthcare and government. With this holistic portfolio, the AI Business School can also help students learn about AI application across a number of industries and roles. We’ve already seen several universities and vocational colleges incorporate this curriculum into their courses across business, finance, economics and health-related degrees as a means of providing real-world examples of AI opportunity and impact.

New research has highlighted the importance of adopting AI to transform the learning experience for students. Last week at the Asian Summit on Education and Skills (ASES) in India, Microsoft and IDC unveiled the latest findings from the study “Future-Ready Skills: Assessing the use of AI within the Education sector in Asia Pacific.” The study found that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will help double the rate of innovation improvements for higher education institutions across the region. Despite 3 in 4 education leaders agreeing that AI is instrumental to an institute’s competitiveness, 68% of education institutions in the region today have actually yet to embark on their AI journey. Those who have started integrating AI have seen improvements in student engagement, efficiency and competitiveness, as well as increased funding and accelerated innovation.

Microsoft is proud to be working with schools and institutions around the world to improve understanding of Artificial Intelligence and support leaders, educators and students to get ready for the future, like the recent collaboration in India with CBSE to train up over 1000 educators.

Click here for free STEM resourcesExplore tools for student-centered learning

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Microsoft is awarded Zscaler’s Technology Partner of the Year for 2019

Last week at Zscaler’s user conference, Zenith Live, Microsoft received Zscaler’s Technology Partner of the Year Award in the Impact category. The award was given to Microsoft for the depth and breadth of integrations we’ve collaborated with Zscaler on and the positive feedback received from customers about these integrations.

Together with Zscaler—a Microsoft Intelligent Security Association (MISA) member—we’re focused on providing our joint customers with secure, fast access to the cloud for every user. Since partnering with Zscaler, we’ve delivered several integrations that help our customers better secure their environments, including:

  • Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) integration to extend conditional access policies to Zscaler applications to validate user access to cloud-based applications. We also announced support for user provisioning of Zscaler applications to enable automated, policy-based provisioning and deprovisioning of user accounts with Azure AD.
  • Microsoft Intune integration that allows IT administrators to provision Zscaler applications to specific Azure AD users or groups within the Intune console and configure connections by using the existing Intune VPN profile workflow.
  • Microsoft Cloud App Security integration to discover and manage access to Shadow IT in an organization. Zscaler can be leveraged to send traffic data to Microsoft’s Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) to assess cloud services against risk and compliance requirements before making access control decisions for the discovered cloud apps.

“We’re excited to see customers use Zscaler and Microsoft solutions together to deliver fast, secure, and direct access to the applications they need. The Technology Partner of the Year Award is a testament of Microsoft’s commitment to helping customers better secure their environments.”
—Punit Minocha, Vice President of Business Development at Zscaler

“The close collaboration between our teams and deep integration across Zscaler and Microsoft solutions help our joint customers be more secure and ensure their users stay productive. We’re pleased to partner with Zscaler and honored to be named Zscaler’s Technology Partner of the Year.”
—Alex Simons, Corporate Vice President of Program Management at Microsoft

We’re thrilled to be Zscaler’s Technology Partner of the Year in the Impact category and look forward to our continued partnership and what Zscaler.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Teaching and learning with Minecraft—#MSFTEduChat TweetMeet and Live Event on September 17 | | Microsoft EDU

Announcing the September 17 TweetMeet and a new Live Event

Minecraft: Education Edition has found a place in many classrooms around the world, empowering students and teachers to take charge of their learning, boost their STEM and 21st-century skills to solve problems through inquiry, creativity and collaboration—in the immersive and fun world of Minecraft.

On September 17, in celebration of the new Back to School updates by Minecraft: Education Edition, we’re excited to host two Minecraft-themed events to inspire you for the new school year: a #MSFTEduChat TweetMeet immediately followed by a new Live Event.

Keep reading for detailed information about this new, dual TweetMeet event.

September 17, 10 a.m. PDT | 1 p.m. EDT | 18:00 BST: Teaching and Learning with Minecraft #MSFTEduChat TweetMeet

September 17, 10 a.m. PDT | 1 p.m. EDT | 18:00 BST: Teaching and Learning with Minecraft #MSFTEduChat TweetMeet

TweetMeet on Teaching and Learning with Minecraft starting at 10 a.m. PDT

Whether you’re a newcomer to MinecraftEdu or have been working with it for years, our TweetMeet has something for you. Hosted by 21 passionate Minecraft Global Mentors, this Twitter conversation invites you to share and learn from the best ideas, tips and resources. Our hosts will provide you with implementation checklists and exciting examples of interactive lessons and activities that keep your learners motivated while they collaborate on solving real-world problems. With all this in mind, we welcome you to a 75-minute TweetMeet on September 17 at 10 a.m. PDT.

Meenoo Rami @MeenooRami, Manager for #MinecraftEdu at Microsoft

Meenoo Rami @MeenooRami, Manager for #MinecraftEdu at Microsoft

Live Event with Meenoo Rami from the MinecraftEdu Team at 11:15 a.m. PDT

Just a few weeks ago, Minecraft: Education Edition released the Back to School update for all users, which include Immersive Reader integration, an improved multiplayer experience with join codes, single sign-on (SSO) support and more.

Video for Teaching and learning with Minecraft—#MSFTEduChat TweetMeet and Live Event on September 17

Earlier this summer, the Minecraft team released an interactive science curriculum on biodiversity developed in partnership with World Wildlife Fund and Naturebytes.

Video for Teaching and learning with Minecraft—#MSFTEduChat TweetMeet and Live Event on September 17

That’s why we’re excited that Meenoo Rami from the Minecraft team will be demonstrating the highlights from these major announcements immediately after the TweetMeet, at 11:15 a.m. PDT.

Mark the Live Event in your calendar, join the Live Eventno registration required—and make sure to check out the MinecraftEdu Blog for many more posts detailing these significant updates.

Welcoming newcomers

Our brand-new “You can join a #MSFTEduChat TweetMeet” video was created especially for newcomers, so please share it with friends and colleagues who might be interested in joining:

Video for Teaching and learning with Minecraft—#MSFTEduChat TweetMeet and Live Event on September 17

Know someone who is totally new to Twitter and could use an introduction? Point them to the Twitter EDU tutorial ebook by David Truss @datruss.

10 Language tracks

We’re offering 10 simultaneous language tracks this month: English, Arabic, Dutch, Finnish (new!), French, German, Norwegian, Portuguese, Romanian and Spanish.

For each language track, we have one or more hosts to post the translated questions and respond to educators.

The #TweetMeetXX hashtags for non-English languages are to be used together with #MSFTEduChat so that everyone can find the conversations back in their own language.

For example: German-speaking people should use both #TweetMeetDE and #MSFTEduChat. English-speaking educators may use #MSFTEduChat on its own.

TweetMeet Fan? Show it off on your Twitter profile!

Show your passion for this month’s Minecraft-themed TweetMeet by uploading this month’s #MSFTEduChat Twitter Header Photo as a banner on your own Twitter profile.

Twitter Header Photos are available in many languages and time zones.

September 17, 10 a.m. PDT | 1 p.m. EDT | 18:00 BST: Teaching and Learning with Minecraft #MSFTEduChat TweetMeet

September 17, 10 a.m. PDT | 1 p.m. EDT | 18:00 BST: Teaching and Learning with Minecraft #MSFTEduChat TweetMeet

Create your own TweetMeet Friend Card

Another way to share your enthusiasm for MinecraftEdu and the TweetMeets in general is to create a TweetMeet Friend Card. Share your own version of this image anytime, anywhere. It will come in handy when introducing yourself at the start of a TweetMeet. Just follow the steps in the TweetMeet Friend Cards PowerPoint.

Here’s an example:

TweetMeet Friend Card example

TweetMeet Friend Card example

Looking back on the August TweetMeet on Back to School

We captured highlights from the Back to School TweetMeet in this @MicrosoftEDU Twitter Moment. There’s even a comprehensive collection of 2,180 tweets in this Wakelet Collection.

Why join the #MSFTEduChat TweetMeets?

TweetMeets are monthly recurring Twitter conversations about themes relevant to educators, facilitated by Microsoft Education. The purpose of these events is to help professionals in education learn from each other and inspire their students while they are preparing for their future. The TweetMeets also nurture personal-learning networks among educators from across the globe.

Check out this helpful blog post by former host James Kieft that describes why educators should consider participating in Twitter chats and how to get started.

When and how can I join?

Join us Tuesday, September 17 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. PDT on Twitter using the hashtags  #MinecraftEdu, #MSFTEduChat and#MicrosoftEDU (which you can always use to stay in touch with us). Be sure to double-check your own local event time. You can find the event time for 215 countries with this time zone announcer.

Our next recommendation for you is to set up a Twitter dashboard TweetDeck and add columns for the hashtag #MSFTEduChat, #MinecraftEdu and #MicrosoftEDU. If you are new to TweetDeck, then check out this brief TweetDeck tutorial by Marjolein Hoekstra.

When a tweet appears that you want to respond to, press the retweet button and type your comments.

Additional tips are offered in this animated GIF that you’re most welcome to share with newcomers:

#MSFTEduChat TweetMeet Tips! | 1) Quote-Retweet the question with your answer, 2) Start retweet with A1, A2 .. A5, 3) Use hashtag #MSFTEduChat in all your tweets, 4) Monitor tweets in TweetDeck

#MSFTEduChat TweetMeet Tips! | 1) Quote-Retweet the question with your answer, 2) Start retweet with A1, A2 .. A5, 3) Use hashtag #MSFTEduChat in all your tweets, 4) Monitor tweets in TweetDeck

Too busy to join at event time? No problem!

From our monthly surveys we know that you may be in class at event time, busy doing other things or may even be asleep—well, no problem! All educators are welcome to join any time after the event. Simply look at the questions below and respond to these at a day and time that suit you best.

You can also schedule your tweets in advance. In such cases, be sure to include the entire question in your tweet and include the hashtag #MSFTEduChat so that everyone knows to which question in which conversation you are responding.

To better allow everyone to prepare for the event, from now on we’re providing the question timings in a text table:

PDT # September 17–TweetMeet question timings
10:00am Welcome Please introduce yourself. Use hashtag #MSFTEduChat.
10:04 1 Why Minecraft in education?
10:18 2 What helps teachers get started with #MinecraftEdu?
10:32 3 How does Minecraft transform education? Share stories.
10:46 4 What practical Minecraft tips, resources and lessons do you recommend?
11:00 5 What’s the next step in your #MinecraftEdu adventure?
11:15 Live Event Join our Live Event with Meenoo Rami from the MinecraftEdu team.

SuperWakelet: resources curated by this month’s hosts

Wakelet is a useful web service to bookmark, curate and annotate resources, images, tweets and other content. A brand-new addition is the possibility to include a Flipgrid Shorts video in a Wakelet.

Through our new SuperWakelet, each of our hosts uses Flipgrid to introduce and share their personal favorite resources on Minecraft in Education:

Teaching and Learning with Minecraft SuperWakelet, live-embedded:

Hosts

Meet the 21 hosts for this month’s TweetMeet! After going through weeks of preparation for this TweetMeet, they are thrilled to engage with you on their favorite topic: Teaching and Learning with Minecraft.

Check out all the hosts, see what they are tweeting about and consider following them: https://twitter.com/TweetMeet/lists/msfteduchat-2019-09/members

List of hosts and their profiles

  • Anis Amouri @Anis_amouri (Fine arts teacher, MIE Expert and MIE Master Trainer, Master Skype Teacher, Minecraft Global Mentor, SDG Ambassador, EU Code Week Ambassdor, HundrED Ambassador, CoSpaces Ambassador—Sfax, Tunisia)
  • Becky Keene @BeckyKeene (Director, Content and Professional Learning, insight2execution; Director of Amazing Things, Phygital Labs; Minecraft Global Mentor, MIE Expert and Master Trainer, Flipgrid Student Voice Ambassador, OneNote Junkie—Seattle WA, USA)
  • Bryan Sanders @nayrbgo (Doctor of Education, Educational Technology Researcher, Academic Technology Specialist, High School English Teacher, Minecraft Global Mentor—Los Angeles CA, USA)
  • Carlos Solano @Carlos_Rsolano (Teacher and NTI coordinator, passionate of learning gaming, using Minecraft in daily classes and also to promote social inclusion of both gifted and autistic childs, Minecraft Global Mentor, MIE Expert—Madrid, Spain)
  • Cheryn Ridge @cherynbaier (MIE Expert and Master Trainer, Minecraft Global Mentor, Teacher, EdTech Teacher Support at Computers 4 Kids—Cape Town, South Africa)
  • Elena Vladescu @VladescuElena (Physics teacher, Minecraft Global Mentor, MIE Expert, eTwinning and Scientix Ambassador—Slatina, Romania)
  • Erik Post @ErikPost9 (Geography and Technology teacher, Minecraft Global Mentor, MIE Expert, MIE Master Trainer—Hardenberg, The Netherlands)
  • Francisco Tupy @FranciscoTupy (Minecraft PhD (literally). Game designer, speaker and consultant on education and innovation projects worldwide—São Paulo, Brazil)
  • Jeff Gearhart @TechJeff09 (Technology Director at Brinnon School, NCCE Professional Learning Specialist, MIE Trainer, Surface Pro Expert, MIE Expert, Minecraft Global Mentor—Brinnon WA, USA)
  • Kristoffer Thomsen @kristoffer_th (Solution Specialist on Education at Microsoft, Former Minecraft Global Mentor. Technology and Education excites me—Oslo, Norway)
  • Mary Elizabeth Pearson @pearsonmep (Educator, NCCE Professional Learning Specialist, Madison International School Technology Consultant and Minecraft in Education academy coordinator, MIE Expert and Master Trainer, Minecraft Global Mentor—Merida, Mexico)
  • Merry Willis @merrywillis (Instructional Technology Specialist, Cherokee County, GA School District, Minecraft Global Mentor, MIE Expert, MIE Fellow and Master Trainer, Fulbright DAT Alumni—Woodstock GA, USA)
  • Michael Flashhacker @MiFleischhacker (Secondary teacher at NMS Kinzerplatz, Minecraft Global Mentor, flipping the classroom, passionate about game-based and lifelong learning—Vienna, Austria)
  • Mike Washburn @misterwashburn (Head of Curriculum and Training at Logics Academy, Host of OnEducation Podcast, Minecraft Global Mentor; MIE Expert—Barrie ON, Canada)
  • Nelly Hamed @nelly_hamed (MIEE fellow, Minecraft Mentor, MergeCube Ambassador, Cospaces Ambassador, Microsoft Trainer, ScreenBeam Expert, Work in Hayah International Academy, Associate at Immersive Minds UK, Hayah International Academy—Cairo, Egypt)
  • Noreen Dooley @nodooley (Classroom Technology Designer, NCCE Professional Learning Specialist, MIE Expert and Master Trainer, Minecraft Global Mentor, passionate about preparing students for success in the real world—Katy TX, USA)
  • Paola Lopez @pacsita (EdTech entrepreneur enthusiast, passionate about neurodiversity and Google Certified Innovator #MEX18 & Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert, Flipgrid Ambassador and Minecraft Global Mentor—Monterrey, Mexico)
  • Pekka Ouli @pekkaouli (eLearning Specialist and Minecraft Global Mentor who loves international Minecraft projects and collaboration—Äänekoski, Finland)
  • Stéphane Cloâtre @StephaneCloatre (Technology Teacher, Robotics educator, Minecraft Global Mentor, Digital Education Consultant at Immersive Minds, passionate about making learning fun AND meaningful—Fougères, France)
  • Tina Coffey @elemitrt (Instructional Technology Teacher, Minecraft Global Mentor, passionate about finding ways to engage students, make learning relevant, promote global literacy, and foster 21st Century skills—Roanoke VA, USA)
  • Trish Cloud @trishcloud (Coordinator, Personalized Digital Learning, Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, Minecraft Global Mentor, using Minecraft: EE to integrate CS into elementary and middle schools throughout CMS—Huntersville NC, USA)

Next month’s event: STEM and NASA

October 15 Tuesday at 10 am PDT | 1 pm EDT STEM and NASA #MSFTEduChat

October 15 Tuesday at 10 am PDT | 1 pm EDT STEM and NASA #MSFTEduChat

The theme of the TweetMeet on October 15 will be STEM and NASA. We’re looking forward to this event and hope you’ll spread the word!

Got questions about the #MSFTEduChat TweetMeets?

Please connect with TweetMeet organizer Marjolein Hoekstra @TweetMeet on Twitter if you have any questions about the TweetMeets or how to become a host at a future event.

Click here for free STEM resourcesExplore tools for student-centered learning

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Bing helps you learn more about the news in less time

Being an informed consumer of the news is more challenging today than it used to be. We live in a busy world where dozens of headlines compete for our attention every day. On top of that, it’s difficult to know if you’re getting all sides of a story or just leaning into an echo chamber, and it can feel like a full-time job to seek out various points of view.

At Bing, we want to empower users to get an overview of the news in less time. That’s why we built the Bing spotlight that provides overviews of news topics that you can see right in the Bing search results when you search for major developing news stories.

Spotlight shows users the latest headlines, a rundown of how the story has developed over time, and relevant social media posts from people around the web. Spotlight also shows diverse perspectives on a given topic so users can quickly get a well-rounded view on the topic before deciding what they want to go deeper on and read by clicking on any of the articles.

Spotlight is currently available on Bing desktop and mobile web in the US.


 

Users’ trust in the news we present is of the utmost importance to Bing, and we’re committed to providing a well-rounded view of news from diverse, quality sources.

To start, Bing monitors millions of queries and news articles every day and identifies impactful stories that evolve over a period of weeks or months. We look at various user signals such as queries and browser logs, and document signals from publishers such as how many publishers cover a story, their angles, and how prominently they feature the story on their site.  For controversial topics, in the Perspectives module, we show different viewpoints from high-quality sources. For a source to be considered high quality, it must meet the Bing News PubHub Guidelines, which is a set of criteria that favors originality, readability, newsworthiness, and transparency. Top caliber news providers identify sources and authors, give attribution and demonstrate sound journalistic practices such as accurate labeling of opinion and commentary. Behind the scenes, we leverage our deep learning algorithms and web graphs of hundreds of millions of web sites in the Bing index to identify top sources for national news, per category, query, or article. Our goal is to provide broader context for impactful stories, from politics to business to major disasters, and much more.

To try the new experience, search for major news topics like self-driving cars on Bing.com, or find the latest spotlights on the Bing.com homepage carousel.

Providing different perspectives in our spotlight experience is part of a broader effort to help our users be more informed with various perspectives on a range of topics, from news to common health questions. We’re working hard to expand the range of topics covered by this approach, including expanding the numbers of topics spotlight covers, to help you become more informed in less time and effort. We hope you’re as excited about these updates as we are!

Inside Xbox is Live from gamescom on Tuesday, August 21 – Xbox Wire

Inside Xbox kicks off one of the world’s largest video game shows with a live broadcast direct from Cologne, Germany on Tuesday, August 21 at 7:30 a.m. PDT/10:30 a.m. EDT on MixerTwitchYouTubeFacebook, and Twitter.

Our gamescom content will include the latest on Forza Horizon 4Sea of Thieves, and State of Decay 2, plus breaking news, exclusive interviews and never-before-seen content for many other games.

Stay tuned @Xbox on Twitter and here on Xbox Wire for the latest Inside Xbox: Live @ gamescom news, and mark August 21 on your calendar so you don’t miss out!

Inside Xbox is Live from gamescom on Tuesday, August 21 – Xbox Wire

Inside Xbox kicks off one of the world’s largest video game shows with a live broadcast direct from Cologne, Germany on Tuesday, August 21 at 7:30 a.m. PDT/10:30 a.m. EDT on MixerTwitchYouTubeFacebook, and Twitter.

Our gamescom content will include the latest on Forza Horizon 4Sea of Thieves, and State of Decay 2, plus breaking news, exclusive interviews and never-before-seen content for many other games.

Stay tuned @Xbox on Twitter and here on Xbox Wire for the latest Inside Xbox: Live @ gamescom news, and mark August 21 on your calendar so you don’t miss out!

Where the IBM Project Debater AI system may be headed

Last month, in almost real time and in front of a live audience in San Francisco, two humans debated facts and ethics with an AI system, IBM Project Debater.

The AI platform offered points and rebuttals during its first public debate, going first against Noa Ovadia, the 2016 Israeli national debate champion, on the issue of subsidizing space exploration, and then against Israeli professional debater Dan Zafrir on the topic of telemedicine. Debaters, human and machine, were not made aware of the subjects ahead of time.

According to a snap poll of the audience after each session, audiences felt that Project Debater, at least on the topic of space exploration, enriched their knowledge more than its human counterpart.

The humans, however, were largely found to be better, more persuasive speakers. Indeed, despite its digital prowess, some debate experts have noted that the AI debating system lacks a certain ability to deploy tonal effects, such as irony and sarcasm.

The debating system isn’t IBM’s first foray into machine-human jousting. In 2011, IBM’s Watson supercomputer beat trivia stars in a game of Jeopardy, and in 1997, IBM’s Deep Blue chess computer bested world chess champion Garry Kasparov.

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IBM Research teaser for Project Debater

The Project Debater engineers appear to be taking a more nuanced approach this time.

Ranit Aharonov, manager of the IBM Project Debater team, said members of the project team didn’t think of the system simply as something that could win a debate.

“When we look at a debate, we don’t only look at who swayed the audience more. There’s a lot more to it,” Aharonov said.

Building a debating machine

Developed over the past six years at the IBM Research lab in Haifa, Israel, IBM Project Debater uses sophisticated machine learning algorithms and millions of newspapers and articles to identify and organize facts relevant to a debate topic.

The AI is able to cluster that information into themes based on the topic of debate, and, using what IBM calls data-driven speech writing, delivers the information in a coherent sentence.

IBM Project Debater is essentially trained in the art of debate — to have a general idea of when and how to use factual and ethical arguments to support or dispute a point. To be able to debate in real time, the system employs natural language processing to identify the main components of an opponent’s speech and then give a rebuttal.

While pursuing this researching project, during the process, we are actually finding ourselves facing new problems we haven’t faced before.
Noam SlonimIBM

According to Noam Slonim, principal investigator for IBM Project Debater, the technology could have a number of applications. The most immediate one, he said, is advancing the field of science.

“While pursuing this researching project, during the process, we are actually finding ourselves facing new problems we haven’t faced before,” Slonim said

Real-life applications

Beyond advancing the field, Slonim said he sees “the underlying technology with the Debater being very, very aligned with technologies that help people make a better-informed decision,” noting that it could eventually have uses in the fields of politics or business.

“Just imagine giving Debater a topic and asking it to find everything of relevance to that topic and what that could mean,” he said.

Also, Slonim said he sees the technology being useful in the education field. Having a debating AI system “can help kids learn how to build better arguments and become more informed in a topic.”

Dan Zafrir and IBM Project Debater, San Francisco
Israeli debater Dan Zafrir poses with IBM’s Project Debater before a public debate in San Francisco last month

“IBM Project Debater, while still in development, could be brought into specific use cases, and is slated to be released in some form next year,” Slonim said. He declined to say what incarnation the technology might take.

As for bringing some of the technology behind IBM Project Debater to IBM’s well-publicized AI system, Watson, Slonim said: “The implication is that these will be incorporated into Watson and enhance its capabilities.”

Mixed review from an analyst

Adrian Bowles, vice president of research and lead analyst for artificial intelligence at Aragon Research, was at last month’s live debate in San Francisco.

Bowles, who said he first spoke with an IBM representative about the IBM Project Debater four years ago, said he was struck more by how IBM Project Debater identified arguments than how it expressed them.

“The natural language generational software is not nearly as impressive to me as what they’ve done with natural language understanding,” he said, adding that the AI system presented arguments more on a high school or college level than a professional one.

“Finding and representing the logical position and being able to identify the opposite of that is where the magic happens, if you will,” Bowles continued.

Bowles agreed that the technology could be useful when applied in a classroom setting, but noted that he would also like to see it used to help extract provable facts from bodies of text, like multiple sources of news.

Specifically, Bowles cited fake news and the political bias reflected by news sources. Technology in IBM Project Debater could be used to analyze multiple news sources on the same topic and help separate facts from bias or misreporting.

“What I would like to see is it being able to identify practical arguments and being able to map those out,” he said.

Due to the vast number of documents Debater has access to, Slonim said he would expect technology to be separated out before the system is commercialized, partitioning it out to get to the basic underlying technology and allowing users to input their own data to be analyzed.

“I think that would get people using it and experimenting in novel ways,” he said.

Microsoft adds live broadcasting software to Teams

Microsoft has added live broadcasting software to Microsoft Stream and integrated the service with Yammer and Microsoft Teams. The move should help Microsoft compete against main rival Cisco, which has made the video platform Webex the centerpiece of its collaboration portfolio.

The vendor will soon give Microsoft Teams users the ability to host one-to-many live events from within the team collaboration app. The feature, released in preview this week, will eventually replace Skype Meeting Broadcast, although Microsoft did not provide a timeline for that transition.

Enterprises can use the live broadcasting software added to Microsoft Stream this week in a variety of ways. For example, companies could use the software to conduct in-house town halls or product launches.

Microsoft Stream works with webcams and lets presenters share files and their screens while attendees comment in real time. Microsoft has also partnered with video encoding vendors, including Telestream and Haivision, so that businesses can integrate Stream with third-party cameras.

Microsoft plans to give more customers access to advanced AI features in Stream later this quarter, including automated, searchable, speech-to-text transcripts. Stream also uses facial recognition to identify speakers, creating an interactive list of speakers that viewers can use to navigate the recording.

Microsoft live broadcasting software improves Office 365

The enterprise market for live broadcasting software is crowded with vendors, from consumer options like YouTube and Venmo to pure-play webcasting services like On24 and TalkPoint. Most web conferencing platforms, such as Cisco Webex and Zoom, can also host webinars.

Microsoft is trying to stand out by offering an integrated portfolio that connects the live events of Microsoft Stream with collaboration apps like Microsoft Teams. Combining the software makes sense because businesses already use Teams for messaging and online meetings, according to Adam Preset, an analyst at Gartner.

“Technology vendors that can keep their customers inside an ecosystem can add more value if everything works together nicely,” Preset said. “That can also displace competitors who would have a tougher time breaking in even if their solutions are more mature or stronger in other areas.”

Stream’s integration with Microsoft Teams means that messages and content related to both daily work and company-wide meetings will exist in the same place, making it easier to start and continue conversations stemming from those live events, Preset said.

Cisco has also sought to provide a one-stop-shop for collaboration by merging its team collaboration app, Cisco Webex Teams (formerly Cisco Spark), with its industry-leading web conferencing platform, Cisco Webex.

Skype for Business customers that use that platform’s live broadcasting feature will soon be forced to transition to Microsoft Stream. However, Microsoft’s recently demonstrated willingness to open the Teams platform to developers could lead to other live broadcasting services being integrated with the product.

“The pool of people running large events in Skype Meeting Broadcast isn’t as large as those using Skype for Business Online for daily messaging and meetings,” Preset said. “That smaller set of event organizers will be looking at a large set of alternatives for delivering broadcasts.”