Learning Apps & Tools

Microsoft Adds New Features to Minecraft, PowerPoint, Whiteboard

Microsoft is making changes to its education apps to enable more interactive learning experiences.

Microsoft is releasing updates to improve its suite of education apps available to teachers and students. Prior to this year’s ISTE conference, the company announced that Immersive Reader will be integrated into Minecraft: Education Edition. Immersive Reader helps students improve their reading and writing comprehension skills.

Immersive Reader in Minecraft

In addition, Immersive Reader is now available as an Azure Cognitive Service, which allows third-party apps and partners to integrate the tool into their products to help students read text within the apps. Buncee, Follett, MyDay, OhBot and Oxford Press are among the first round of companies that will integrate Immersive Reader into their solutions. Immersive Reader is also getting integrated to Microsoft Forms and Microsoft Whiteboard.

Microsoft is also updating PowerPoint to make it easier for teachers and students to practice their presentations and improve their public speaking skills. Presenter Coach in PowerPoint online allows teachers and students to enter rehearsal mode receive on-screen guidance on pacing, inclusive language, conciseness of language, profanity, culturally inclusive words and originality. At the end of each rehearsal session, the presenter will receive a detailed report with metrics for additional practice.

PowerPoint in Coach

Finally, Microsoft Whiteboard is getting enhancements to promote effective and focused collaboration for all students. Through Reactions, teachers and students will be able to give “thumbs-up” stickies, images and text on Whiteboard. Send to Teams allows students and teachers to engage beyond the class period by allowing individual users to share boards that they’ve created to a Teams channel.

Follow-along in Whiteboard allows students to automatically access and zoom in other user contributions to the board. Teachers can also enable Read-only mode to “mute” particular individuals which reduces distractions and interruptions.

More information on enhancements to Microsoft’s education apps can be found here.

About the Author

Sara Friedman is a reporter/producer for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe covering education policy and a wide range of other public-sector IT topics.

Friedman is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she studied journalism, politics and international communications.

Friedman can be contacted at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @SaraEFriedman.

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