Microsoft has announced new, productivity-focused updates to Office 365 Education. Touted as "teacher inspired and student focused" updates, the new features offer enhanced educator collaboration with PLC (professional learning communities) groups, better formative assessments with additional Learning Management System (LMS) and Microsoft Forms, and new Student Information System (SIS) partners.
To increase collaboration between teachers and their colleagues, Microsoft has introduced the "PLC Groups Preview", where educators can meet and share knowledge and expertise on various subjects. This will aid in improving teaching skills, consequently allowing PLCs and teachers to collectively boost the academic performance of their students. Educators and PLCs will share conversation spaces, calendars, OneNote notebooks and file space.
Additionally, Microsoft has encouraged educators to use Docs.com, stating that:
Docs.com is the easiest way to create a visually appealing online portfolio that can include OneNote notebooks, Word documents, Excel workbooks, PowerPoint slide decks, interactive Sways, PDFs and a host of web content. Docs.com retains all the rich formatting, animations and formulas of your Office documents and can be easily shared with your school and the world. We have been gathering feedback from thousands of amazing educators and students around the globe to ensure that the experience can meet their needs.
In order to further enhance the Docs.com experience, Microsoft has also introduced "Organization Visibility", allowing educators a more refined control system over who can view their documents.
Furthermore, the company has also announced auto-grading and real-time personalized feedback for formative assessments conducted in Microsoft Forms. As the name implies, the former greatly reduces the time spent in grading assessments, and the latter allows teachers to provide feedback to their students in real-time.
Lastly, Microsoft has announced integration with more technologies, stating that it has partnered with 35 companies willing to work on OneNote and Office 365 Education, with 20 implemented and more to come soon. These include Blackbaud, Jasperactive, Edmodo and PowerSchool among others.
Microsoft has encouraged users to provide feedback via the UserVoice site, and has promised more updates and features coming soon to the service.