Microsoft Announces Education AI Enhancements with Focus on Collaboration, Personalized Learning
Microsoft on Thursday unveiled a handful of AI initiatives aimed at educators and students, including new and enhanced features in Microsoft Copilot and Microsoft Loop.
First up, the company announced that Copilot would be available to a larger pool of faculty and higher education students. Microsoft initially opened up Copilot to education faculty and staff (through Microsoft 365) at the beginning of the year. This week brings extended eligibility to Office 365 A3 and A5 faculty customers and removes the 300-seat purchase minimum, making these tools accessible to more organizations. Note that Office 365 A3 and A5 are two of the company's education licensing tiers.
Microsoft Loop, the company's AI-powered collaboration app, will now also be available for A3 and A5 plan holders. For A1 holders, Microsoft's cheaper Education license tier, A1, will be able to create workspaces and pages (with continued access after) though Loop until June 30. After that, an upgrade to A3 or A5 will be required to access the full Loop suite.
Microsoft is also expanding its Reading Coach feature to more individuals by making it free for anyone with a Microsoft Account. Introduced in 2022, Reading Coach is the company's AI- powered learning tool that tailors literacy lessons to each individual student by creating customized lesson plans with instant feedback.
Along with opening up the feature to anyone, Microsoft has expanded the feature. Once only available through Teams for Education, Microsoft is now making it available through the web or a desktop app as a standalone service. It will also now include a new learning capability that will create "dynamically created stories" through AI for users based on their skill level.
"Reading Coach takes a unique approach to implementing generative AI with guardrails," wrote Microsoft in the Thursday announcement. "Learners select the story’s protagonist, setting, and are provided with choices that alter the plot of the story as they read. Reading Coach combines these inputs with the learner’s selected reading level, and over time, words they mispronounce to dynamically create personalized stories that keep students engaged and in the driver seat."
The company also announced that integration with Reading Coach will also be coming to popular learning management systems, including Canvas, in late spring. This will allow educators to integrate learning plans created through Reading Coach directly into their LMS.
Microsoft is updating Microsoft Teams for Education and Microsoft Reflect with a new tool to aid the learning process. Classwork will help educators organize and create content for students. The feature's AI hooks will also assist in suggesting content, based on subject and student age range.
Finally, to help educators stay afloat in the quickly changing AI landscape, Microsoft is now offering AI for Educators Learning Path on its Microsoft Learn online education platform. This new path will break down the benefits of AI technology in the classroom and present real-world use cases for educators to enhance their teaching through platforms like Copilot.