Microsoft has announced new features for its video conferencing platform Teams that are aimed to improve education customers’ experience. The platform is bringing Minecraft: Education Edition integration and a new subscription model (also for education customers) called Minecraft for Camps and Clubs. The software giant says that educators can now embed a Flipgrid topic, Forms quiz, or assessment tool using new resource links within a Minecraft world. Students in a Minecraft lesson can open a Flipgrid Topic, record and share their creation, and invite others to join a world they’ve created. The Microsoft Stores will also host several camps and training sessions using Minecraft: Education Edition. The company adds that several camps, clubs, homeschool organisations, and nonprofits can purchase licenses for Minecraft beginning this summer, that is, for Minecraft for Camps and Clubs. Until now, the Minecraft: Education Edition has been available for customers with Office 365 Education accounts (premium model). Microsoft has not shared details on how to access the integration via Microsoft Teams.
Coming to features, Microsoft Teams announced new tools dedicated to Teacher Appreciation Day in the US. There’s a new ‘Reading Progress’ tool that is designed to help teachers evaluate their students’ reading process. “Reading Progress is built on the solid scientific foundation of oral repeated reading and close monitoring by the educator. It allows educators to provide personal attention to each student while at the same time dealing with a whole classroom full of students,” Microsoft said in a blog post. Other tools include Group Assignments that lets educators organise students into assignment groups and third-party app support. Microsoft Teams is introducing a Supervised Chat feature to support students’ safety in both “digital and physical spaces.”
Available later this month, it is touted to allow designated educators to initiate chats with students while preventing students from starting new chats unless an appropriate educator is present. Supervisors are not allowed to leave chats and other participants are not allowed to remove them—meaning students can engage in secure discussions, enabled and monitored appropriately by school staff.