April 15, 2024

Unlock productivity and personalize learning with AI

Today we are announcing the next wave of AI innovations from Microsoft Education that will help unlock productivity and personalize learning. This includes the expanded availability of Copilot for Microsoft 365 and the arrival of Loop in education. We also share news about AI built for education, like Reading Coach and features designed to free up time for educators and personalize learning. As part of our continued work to develop AI literacy, we launched our latest course for educators and a new learning path in Microsoft Learn. And earlier this week we outlined Microsoft’s position and the issues policymakers should consider around advancing youth online safety and well-being.

Bringing the future of productivity to education

Last month, we were delighted to announce several expansions to Microsoft Copilot for educational audiences. Copilot with commercial data protection will be available to all higher education teachers and students over 18 years of age, including users of our free offers. And on January 1, 2024, teaching and education staff were eligible to purchase Copilot for Microsoft 365. We’re already seeing innovative organizations like the University of Hong Kong, the University of Manchester and GEMS Education leading the way as the first in adopting it. This week we shared additional updates, including eligibility for Office 365 A3 and A5 university customers, and removing the minimum purchase of 300 seats to empower organizations of all sizes.

Microsoft Loop is a flexible, AI-powered collaboration app that can help you think, plan, and create together. We’re excited to share that Loop will be included in Microsoft 365 A3 and A5 plans, including the student usage benefit, in early March 2024. Customers with Office 365 A1 can continue creating workspaces and pages until June 30 2024, and will be able to access them later. Watch the video Microsoft Loop: Think, Plan, and Create Together Like Never Before to learn more about Microsoft Loop and try Loop today.

Transforming reading experiences

It is well known that reading is essential to a student’s academic success; Studies show that fluent readers are four times more likely to graduate from high school and get better jobs. Educators and parents alike are looking for ways to help students improve reading fluency in a way that keeps them engaged, and previous research has found that personalized learning is one of the most effective ways to help close learning gaps. With the latest artificial intelligence technology, we have the opportunity to provide students with personalized, engaging and transformative reading experiences. Reading Coach, a learning accelerator now powered by generative AI, does just that. You can sign up to preview Reading Coach today and try it for yourself at coach.microsoft.com.

Reading Coach already provided students with personalized reading practice, instant feedback on pronunciation and fluency, while also providing feedback to educators. Today we’re sharing new features that will boost student agency and motivation with dynamically created stories that adapt to their reading level and individual challenges.

Reading Coach takes a unique approach to implementing generative AI with guardrails. Students select the protagonist and setting of the story and are offered choices that alter the plot of the story as they read. Reading Coach combines this input with the student’s selected reading level and, over time, mispronounced words to dynamically create personalized stories that keep students engaged and in the driver’s seat. Students are kept engaged with the power to choose the path of a story as they progress through the chapters. Story content is moderated for quality, safety, and age appropriateness. And in addition to creating AI-powered stories, students can also choose leveled passages from ReadWorks’ curated library.

Reading Coach intrinsically motivates students to continue improving their skills in several ways. They can unlock new story settings and characters, earn badges that reward their efforts, and see improvements in their pronunciation and fluency in progress reports.

Reading Coach takes a unique approach to implementing generative AI with guardrails with the creation of a story feature.

We’re making Reading Coach more available than ever, so students can read on the device of their choice, at home or at school. It will be available on the web and as a Windows app, at no cost to anyone with a Microsoft account. Additionally, we’re making it easier for teachers to create Reading Coach practice assignments by adding integration with popular learning management systems (LMS) like Canvas, which will be available in late spring 2024. Learn more about how Reading Coach works in our support. documentation pages.

These new Reading Coach features build on the passage generation and comprehension question generation in Reading Progress, which will be available for preview in late January 2024. Using AI in an impactful, safe way and responsible, we believe personalized learning at scale is within reach.

Time savings and differentiating teaching

In addition to reading, over the past year we have focused on opportunities to free up educators’ time by further improving our products with AI. Today, we’re sharing more features coming to Microsoft Teams for Education and Microsoft Reflect to help personalize content. They will be generally available at no additional cost to all education customers later this year.

All of these tools quickly and easily generate content, such as reading passages, comprehension questions, rubrics, assignment instructions, and more. Educators are always in control as experts and can review initial drafts of content, generate more options, make edits, or choose to discard. Educators can personalize learning with the click of a button by using filters such as age, language, topics, and increasing or decreasing the complexity of the content. And educational organizations can choose to turn these features on or off.

Classwork is a Teams feature designed to manage your curriculum and allows educators to create and organize class resources, including assignments, files, links, channels, class notebook pages, and more. Generating classwork modules helps easily boost content with module suggestions based on subject, age range of students, and scope of learning.

Generation of AI modules in the Classwork function in Teams. Generating classwork modules helps easily boost content with module suggestions.

When creating a task in Teams, educators will have opportunities to leverage AI to easily emphasize key content, simplify or add more details, learning objectives, and even emojis. In each case, educators are reminded that AI-generated content may be incorrect and they must choose to retain, discard, or regenerate it.

Tasks teaching experience in Microsoft Teams, including message-based AI-generated content

Example of AI-generated content in Tasks in Microsoft Teams. Leverage AI to easily emphasize key content, simplify or add more details, learning objectives, and even emojis.

Once the assignment is ready, educators can generate a draft rubric after providing the title, assessment, age range, scale, and criteria details. Educators are then encouraged to carefully review and make modifications before attaching them to an assignment.

Teacher experience creating a new rubric in Assignments in Microsoft Teams, using the Create Rubric with AI option.

Create a new rubric in Tasks in Microsoft Teams, using the Create Rubric with AI option.

Microsoft Reflect is a tool that helps students identify and express how they feel in a safe and fun way, developing their emotional vocabulary and giving educators the information they need to actively support them. Reflect can now further improve understanding by allowing educators to generate options for students to specify the reasons behind the emotion. These options are tailored to the control question set by the educator and are based on multi-year research by experts at the Stanford Graduate School of Education. Educators can regenerate, manually add, or completely discard results. The reasons can then be grouped at the class level into a predefined list of focus areas with strategies on how to navigate each in partnership with Challenge Success, a nonprofit affiliated with the Stanford Graduate School of Education.

A flow that shows how to create, respond to, and analyze student records from Microsoft Reflect. Reflect can now further improve understanding by allowing educators to generate options for students to specify the reasons behind the emotion.

Develop AI literacy for educators and students

As more interesting features are developed, we will continue to support the development of AI literacy in parallel. We are now launching the AI ​​Learning Path for Educators in Microsoft Learn, made up of three modules to help educators learn about and benefit from AI. It starts with empowering educators to explore the potential of AI, continues with how to improve teaching and learning with Copilot, and ends with our newest addition: equipping and supporting students with AI tools from Microsoft. This new course guides educators on how to help students discover, interact, and create with AI and generative AI.

Educators can then leverage the AI ​​Classroom Toolkit to help teach and support students in using generative AI safely. It is a creative resource that combines narrative stories with instructional information to create immersive and effective learning experiences for educators and their students.

Promoting the online safety and well-being of young people

As we approach the year 2024, there is an urgent call to action for all of us to take action to protect the safety and privacy of young people online and ensure that technology, including emerging technologies like AI, serves as a positive force for the next generation. As policymakers and regulators weigh potential measures to help advance safety outcomes in the coming weeks and months, it is essential that they consider both the benefits and risks of technology for young people. Read more in our blog about Microsoft’s position on these issues and issues policymakers should consider as they work on initiatives to protect the safety and privacy of young people online.

Learn more about today’s announcements in our latest Microsoft EDU News blog, and join us on Bett next week to explore AI in education with Microsoft.

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