Microsoft testing new Office 365 features to entice educators

Microsoft is improving its education chops as school IT managers ramp up for a new year

Microsoft's Classroom Hub website gives students and teachers an online dashboard for classroom information

Microsoft's Classroom Hub website gives students and teachers an online dashboard for classroom information

Microsoft announced a private beta for a pair of new services Wednesday aimed at making its Office 365 service work better in schools.

The new Classroom Hub is a website that brings together content from different Office applications into a single, central location that teachers and students can use to stay on top of what's going on in their classes. The service can pull in notes, assignments, calendars and class materials to provide a digital home for all of the information that students need to know. Teachers will also be able to track progress on assignments and provide students with feedback and grades through the site.

Each class with a Classroom Hub site will also have a OneNote Class Notebook generated for it, so that educators and students can share information about class through Microsoft's note-taking service. It's part of a larger push the company has made with OneNote to make it a useful tool for education users as more schools bring laptops and tablets into the classroom.

Microsoft also introduced a new School Information Sync service in closed beta that will hook student information systems that contain information about pupils up to Office 365. Through the new service, administrators and teachers can pull information like a student's name and class enrollments into Office 365 apps and other applications.

Software vendors that make student information systems will be able to improve their integration with third parties by working with Microsoft's new service. It provides a single API for integrating with school data, which would make it easier for developers to create apps that pull in that information from a wide variety of systems.

The new education tools may make Office 365 more appealing for school administrators and teachers alike at a time when the education market has become a battleground for tech firms. Apple is pushing Macs and iPads as tools for learning, while Google has had success getting its low-cost Chromebooks into schools alongside deployment of its Google Apps productivity suite.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is trying to get those same organizations to move away from traditional deployments of Office and onto its Office 365 software-as-a-service offering. What's more, Microsoft will launch Windows 10 in a month, and will be selling a special education edition of its new operating system through a volume licensing program. Improving its software platform could keep more educational institutions on its operating system and away from competitors.

Microsoft hasn't announced when either service will be generally available yet, but education stakeholders can sign up to receive updates through the website for each product.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags applicationsMicrosofteducationsoftwareOffice suitesindustry verticals

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Blair Hanley Frank

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?