Microsoft is adding more new teacher-focused features to Office 365 Education in the areas of classroom management and collaboration.
On June 20, Microsoft officials unveiled some of the additional app and service previews that they hinted back in April would be coming to Office 365 as part of its back-to-school 2016/2017 kick-off.
Features unveiled today include support for more professional learning communities (PLC), as well as a broader public preview of PLC groups. PLC Groups, like other Office 365 groups, provide access to shared conversations, files, OneNote Notebooks and calendars. PLC Groups also integrate directly with Microsoft Planner, Microsoft’s Office 365 planning tool, which the company began rolling out earlier this month.
Microsoft officials also are encouraging teachers and students to use Microsoft’s re-purposed Docs.com site to share OneNote notebooks, documents, workbooks, slide decks, Sway presentations and web content.
For those who prefer to keep their content private within their schools or districts, there’s a new Organization Visibility feature coming to Office 365 Education, which will allow only people who sign in with an Office 365 work or school account from the same organization to view content.
Additionally, Microsoft is adding two more features to its app for creating quizzes and surveys, Microsoft Forms. The new additions: Auto-grading, which prvents teachers from having to download add-ins or perform workarounds to do grading; and real-time personalized feedback.
All educators have access to these new update previews through Office 365 Education, which is free for teachers (and students) by going to office.com/teacher.
One interesting aside: Microsoft’s blog post about today’s June Office 365 Education updates is headlined “Educators, increase collaboration and professional development with new Office 365 Education updates.” The words “professional development” take on a new significance after Microsoft’s purchase last week of LinkedIn