At its Microsoft EDU event in New York City today, the company unveiled a slew of education improvements to Microsoft Teams. Microsoft Office general manager Catherine Boeger announced that these new features are available today in private preview and will be generally available this summer.
Microsoft Teams launched worldwide in March as part of Office 365, meaning it was only for businesses. A week later, the company made Teams available in Office 365 Education so faculty, staff, and students could also use the chat-based collaboration tool.
Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president in Microsoft’s operating systems group, told VentureBeat that Microsoft wants Teams to “become the collaborative hub for classroom project-oriented learning.” Teams naturally offers a very chat-based workflow, which Microsoft hopes will help foster a variety of types of discussions in and out of the classroom.
But the pitch to schools takes this one step further: Teams is billed as a “modern, state-of-the art collaboration system that’s just like the collaboration systems used in companies.”
Put another way, Microsoft hopes that teachers will want to use and teach with Teams like they already do with Office. The idea is that using Microsoft tools could not only make their lives easier, it also prepares their students for the workplace where these tools are being used.
More specifically, teachers can use Teams to automatically load settings and projects whenever a new class starts. This is not just on their device but also on devices their students pick up and sign into at the start of class. When a new class or workgroup is created, it comes with its own OneNote notebook, so students can always look back at what was shown five minutes ago or five days ago. Teachers can also easily offer assessments, quizzes, and so on right in Teams.
Microsoft Teams for Education is also getting an assignment service. The teacher version of Teams allows users to create assignments, put a due date, and assign work to a class or subset of students. The student version, meanwhile, includes everything needed to let users submit assignments.
Microsoft is moving incredibly quickly with Teams. Today’s education-specific updates are just a small piece of a bigger push to get millions using the chat-based system, though the company still has no plans to offer a free version.