Office 365 Education adds more features, including dictation

Microsoft's education initiative continues to march forward, as the company revealed several new affordable laptops available for students and schools, In addition to the hardware, it went into more detail on what has been - or will be - added to its Office 365 Education student productivity suite.

In a rather lengthy post, Microsoft's corporate education VP Eran Megiddo looked at the changes and updates to the suite's learning tools, the most prominent being dictation. This will allow students to write hands-free in Word, Word Online, PowerPoint, Outlook Desktop, OneNote Windows 10, and OneNote Online by just using their voice, and will be available in more than nine languages.

Two other new additions include Read Aloud and Immersive Reader. The former for Outlook Desktop "allows students to hear the contents of an email while each word is highlighted in sync" and eventually support 30 different text-to-speech languages. The latter is designed for readers of different backgrounds, available in 10 more languages. It is also coming to several new platforms: Word for Mac, iPhone, and Android, as well as Outlook Desktop and OneNote for iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

There are new collaboration tools coming to Teams as well:

  • Assignments support—Using the Teams app on their iOS and Android mobile phone or tablet, students can now access upcoming assignments, receive new assignment notifications, and turn in their work. Teachers can create new assignments, as well as review and make edits to existing assignments all while on the go. We also improved the search function on mobile to ensure both students and teachers can quickly find and navigate to individual assignments.
  • On Demand Translation—Students and teachers will soon be able to turn content in a chat or in a team channel into the language that their tenant is configured in. This powerful feature allows teachers and students to converse comfortably in their chosen language and removes all language barriers.
  • Assignment Analytics—Now teachers can track assignment engagement in real time—at a glance—to see who’s viewed and turned in their work.
  • Join Codes—Saves teachers valuable time by allowing them to simply invite students to a class. This capability will also prove helpful for staff and PLC teams, ensuring an effortless start to collaborating with co-workers.
  • Reusing a Team as a Template—Teachers can reuse an existing team as a template when creating a new team and can customize what they want to copy over—from channels, tabs, team setting, apps, and even users.
  • Decimal Grading—Teachers can provide grading feedback in their preferred way using Decimal Grading.

OneNote for Teachers also gets a face lift:

  • Capita SIMS—Updates to Class Notebook include assignment and grade integration with more than 35 of the most widely used LMS and SIS, including Capita SIMS in the U.K. These integrations are coming to OneNote for Windows 10, OneNote Online, and OneNote iPad, and will reduce administrative burden and save teachers time.
  • Page Locking—To further simplify classroom workflows, we are delivering on the number-one request from teachers for Class Notebooks—enabling lock pages. Teachers can now lock pages as read-only after giving feedback to the student.
  • Interactive math calculators—In OneNote, we are also enabling Desmos interactive math calculators, a set of popular applications for STEM teachers.
  • New stickers—We also added four new fun sticker packs: Feathered Friends, Science, Circus Animals, and Arrows.

Teachers and students will also be able to better collaborate through PowerPoint and Microsoft Stream.

Here is the timetable on the availability of each of the new features:

  • Dictation in Office will begin rolling out in our Office Insider program this month, and then to all Office 365 customers in coming months.
  • Read Aloud for Outlook Desktop will be available to Office Insiders this month, and then will roll out to all Office 365 customers in coming months.
  • Immersive Reader for Mac Word, iPhone Word, and Android Word will be available to our Office Insiders program this month, and then to all Office 365 customers in coming months.
  • Immersive Reader for OneNote iOS will begin rolling out to Office 365 customers at the beginning of February 2018 and finish by March 2018.
  • Immersive Reader languages for text-to-speech, syllables, and parts-of-speech languages will start to become available today and will continue to roll out through February 2018.
  • Teams iOS and Android updates and Decimal Grading are available worldwide today. Assignment Analytics, Join Codes, and Reuse a Team as a Template will begin to roll out to Office 365 Education customers enrolled in our Teams for Education beta program today. These capabilities will move to worldwide production by Spring 2018.
  • OneNote assignment and grade integration with Capita SIMS will be available in February 2018. Assignment and Grade integration for OneNote for Windows 10, OneNote Online, and OneNote iPad will be available worldwide in February 2018.
  • OneNote Desmos integration is available worldwide today to all Office 365 customers.
  • OneNote Class Notebook Page Locking begins preview testing in February 2018 and will roll out worldwide in the coming months.
  • Recording a PowerPoint and publishing directly to Stream is now available to all Office 365 customers. Additional features, including Forms integration, will roll out later this year.

Microsoft is at the Bett education showcase in London this week showing off the new features. Office 365 Education is free to all students and teachers.

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