“To predict the future, invent it,” said Alan Kay. The quote perfectly describes Microsoft’s successful May 2, 2017 event, Learn What’s Next , and some of the innovative teaching and learning possibilities Microsoft has created. Let’s take a moment to quickly review what those updates are and how they approach creating worlds of tomorrow. You can also watch the event on demand and follow the buzz via the Twitter hashtag, #MicrosoftEDU.
Innovation #1 – $189 New Windows 10 Education PCs and Software
Creating worlds of tomorrow involves new technologies, including 3D ways of looking at the real and virtual world. Microsoft announced a new version of Windows 10 known as Windows 10 S, where the S represents security, simplicity, and superior performance. Paired with an offer available for all schools, Windows 10 S is free for installation on current Windows Pro PCs. If you need apps that are not in the Windows Store, you can still get them if you have Windows Pro on your device. Microsoft Intune for Education, an easy way to manage Windows PCs, is also now available and will make it easier for district IT staff to manage the devices. Intune will sell for $30/license. Curious about the new Windows Surface laptop? Check out the specifications for the $189 Surface laptop.
But wait, there’s more! The free Microsoft Office 365 for Education now integrates Teams, Microsoft’s newest chat-based workspace, for use in Microsoft Classrooms via an incredible update. This will allow for greater and easier collaboration among students and staff.
Innovation #2 – Minecraft (MCEE) Adds a Coding Agent
Innovation #3 – Free STEM Projects and Lessons
Control a robotic finger made from a straw, stream data into MS Excel, and design a moving dragon. These are only three examples of newly available pop-up STEM experiences that will appear in May, along with summer programs, at select Microsoft stores. Add these to the existing library of content available via Creative Coding through Games and Apps (CCGA) and K-12 schools have access to an array of learning possibilities.
Innovation #4 – Windows Mixed Reality Brings 3D into Classrooms
“Learning is an endless pursuit,” says Panos Panay (@panos_panay), Microsoft Surface engineer, as he lovingly describes engineers seeking to design new Surfacebooks and tablets. These words are echoed in every aspect of Mixed Reality, a new technology that models field trips to space and places students into a 3D reality. This is the power of mixed reality that merges physical and virtual worlds. See it in action via this video. Mixed Reality works with any Windows 10 computer equipped with a built-in or external webcam. Even better, it is available at no cost.
Another incredible addition is 3D4Medical, which transforms medical learning using the Microsoft Surface laptop (available June 15 for $999; pre-order today). What’s more, Microsoft, 3D4Medical, and Pearson have combined to make a variety of other innovative courses available.
Innovation #5 – New Surface Laptop with 14.5-Hour Battery Life
One of the stunning announcements of the morning included demonstrations of the new Surface Laptop, available in multiple colors and boasting a 14.5-hour battery life (outperforming Apple’s Mac at 10 hours of life). This incredible device appears light, sleek, and powerful. It’s great for use anywhere and by anyone. It is available for purchase beginning today at a price point just shy of $1,000.
Implications for K-16
Wondering how these revelations impact K-16 education? While new technology is always exciting, Microsoft Intune brings new mobile device management tools to Windows 10 S devices, making them a solid option for cost-conscious education leaders. The free, albeit for one year, Minecraft:Education Edition with Code Builder, the no-cost Mixed Reality, and pop-up experience STEM lessons and curriculum make today’s update a visionary and breathtaking view of what’s possible tomorrow.