Inclusive Classroom round up for Microsoft Education at ISTE 2019
Published Jun 20 2019 06:01 AM 14.3K Views

Microsoft Education’s mission is to empower every student on the planet to achieve more.  This mission is founded on inclusive principles and aims to enable 100% of all students. Built-in, mainstream, non-stigmatizing and free!  Coming into ISTE, Microsoft Education is releasing a wave of updates for the Inclusive Classroom.  Today’s round-up of new updates are grouped across reading, writing, math and communication.


To better understand the value that the Microsoft 365 inclusive technologies bring to students, educators and schools, we recently commissioned Forrester Consulting to conduct a Total Economic Impact™ Analysis of Microsoft Accessibility And Assistive Technologies For Education.  To learn more details, check out our recent Tech Community blog title Quantifying the value of Microsoft Accessibility and Assistive Technologies For Education.


Immersive Reader updates

3rd Party use with Cognitive Services: Today, we’re thrilled to announce Immersive Reader will now be available as an Azure Cognitive Service, allowing third party apps and partners to add Immersive Reader right into their products, starting with the partners below. The Immersive Reader helps people of all abilities, including dyslexia, ADHD, emerging readers, non-native speakers, people with visual impairments. If there’s an app you love to use in your classroom and you would love to see an Immersive Reader icon show up there soon, let them know. We’ve made it easier than ever, you might even call it Literacy as a Service! 

More details about the new Immersive Reader service at our blog The initial list of partners is listed here  :Buncee, FollettJogNog, KortextMindsets LearningMyDay, Nearpod, OhBotOxford University Press, PowerSchoolSiLAS, Skooler, SquiglThingLinkWakelet



Minecraft: Education Edition - We want to allow all students to engage in Minecraft: Education Edition, and this includes reading signs, boards, in any form or any language.  Today we are announcing the Immersive Reader integration with Minecraft: Education Edition. And as a bonus, we are also enhancing our Picture Dictionary with new Minecraft-specific images such as “Mooshroom” and “Creeper”. This will be coming to all users for Back to School 2019!

Minecraft Education Edition Immersive ReaderMinecraft Education Edition Immersive Reader



Microsoft FormsAs Immersive Reader has been integrated with more and more Microsoft apps and platforms, a common educator request has been to integrate with Microsoft Forms. This integration can allow students to use it with reading passages, reading questions, and various other places in Forms.  A particularly powerful scenario we are excited about is with the new Forms Sections feature, and the ability to have a reading passage linked to a set of comprehension questions. reading signs, boards, in any form or any language.  The Immersive Reader will be coming to Forms later this summer for Back to School 2019.Immersive Reader in FormsImmersive Reader in Forms



Microsoft Whiteboard – Microsoft Whiteboard provides an active, free-form platform for classroom collaboration – and we want to make sure everyone, including those with reading challenges, can join in the fun. That’s why we’re excited to introduce the integration of Immersive Reader into Whiteboard. With Immersive Reader, students can use tools like the picture dictionary, read aloud, and translation to help them decode typed text on the whiteboard, building their reading skills and encouraging more active participation in the lesson.  The Immersive Reader for Whiteboard will roll out later this summer.Whiteboard Immersive ReaderWhiteboard Immersive Reader


Neural Text to Speech and High Quality Read Aloud voices – one of the top pieces of feedback we’ve heard from students and teachers around the world is the desire to have a better sounding voice for “read aloud”.  The common request is to make it “less robotic sounding”.  We will be switching the default Immersive Reader Read Aloud voice to our recently released Neural Text to Speech (Neural TTS).  This new voice is extremely high quality and the most human-like voice we’ve ever released.  You can get an early listen to the Neural Text to Speech voice by using the Microsoft Edge Chromium beta, which now uses Neural TTS for Read Aloud.


Initial language support is for English, Chinese, Italian and German, which will start rolling out later this summer.  Many more languages will be rolling out in the coming year.



Inclusive Writing

Editor coming to Word and PPT Online: In May we announced new AI-powered writing capabilities coming to Word Online called Ideas.  Using our natural language and intelligence capabilities, we can help all students get more helpful writing feedback, which builds independence and gives teachers more time back.  These new writing tools will join Editor, which is now rolling out to Word Online and PowerPoint Online.Word Ideas.gif

Ideas in Word Online


PowerPoint Online Dictation: In 2018 we added the ability for students to create PowerPoint presentations using Dictation in PowerPoint Desktop.  We are adding the ability to use Dictation in PowerPoint Online and PowerPoint Mac as well, rolling out later this summer.


Improved Speech to Text accuracy: Over the past month, Office 365 and Windows have rolled out improved speech to text (Dictation) updates that have significantly improved accuracy and quality.  These updates are in Word, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook Desktop, as well as Word and Online Online, and will also be in the forthcoming PowerPoint online Online speech to text feature.



Inclusive Math
Generate Practice Math Questions - Students can now generate a practice Math Quiz directly from the Math Assistant, consisting of a set of problems like the one the student is working on. The quiz is created as a Form and embedded directly into OneNote, allowing independence and as much practice and help as a student may need. The feature is rolling out to OneNote for Windows 10 and will be coming to OneNote Online too in the summer.

Generate quiz GIF 3.gifGenerate Practice Math questions in OneNote



Inclusive Communication

Build Critical Communication Skills with Presenter Coach in PowerPoint - Whether you’re a teacher presenting a lesson or a student giving a report, our belief is that everyone can improve how they present. Training and feedback help people gain confidence and empowers them to speak up! Over the last few years we’ve have received feedback from educators and students that they want an easy way to practice their presentations to improve their public speaking abilities.  


Today we are announcing the upcoming availability of Presenter Coach in PowerPoint on the web. Presenting in front of others is a vital life-skill that teachers are eager to cultivate in their students. Based on best practices and academic research, we’ve integrated common tips and tricks into Presenter Coach to help teachers and students give more effective presentations.  


This feature allows teachers and students to enter rehearsal mode and when talking into a microphone, they receive on-screen guidance about pacing, inclusive language, conciseness of language, profanity, filler words like “um” or “uh”, culturally inclusive words, and originality. At the end of each rehearsal session, the presenter receives a detailed report with metrics for additional practice. 


Presenter Coach will be available on PowerPoint on the web this Summer. Check out this post for more details at this blog, and video is below

Presenter Coach video


PowerPoint Captioning and Translation now rolled out 100% globally - as we announced in December 2018, PowerPoint Desktop, Mac and Web are all getting the ability to caption and translate in real-time in over 60 languages.  This allows educators to inclusively present to students or parents, or both.  More details are in the original blog, but this has now rolled out worldwidePPT Captions.jpg


Teams EDU – English captioning: As we announced earlier this year, Microsoft Teams will be getting  the ability to turn on Live Captions during a meeting, to allow parents, students, or other educators see the captions in real-time.  Teams Meetings.gif


We hope you enjoy this round up of some of the inclusive and accessible :hundred_points: improvements coming to the Microsoft Education platform!


Reach out anytime with feedback or suggestions

Mike Tholfsen
Microsoft Education Product Manager

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