Cool Tools for School: Microsoft Ready to Help Students Do Their Best

REDMOND, Wash., Aug. 15, 2005 — Mohammad “Moody” Kassem, a 12th-grader at Beavercreek High School, won’t exactly say he’s looking forward to the start of classes at his Ohio school this fall. But it seems he isn’t as concerned about keeping on top of his homework.

Similarly, James Casey, a biology and chemistry major at the University of Virginia, won’t need to lug all of his textbooks and notebooks around the Charlottesville, Va. campus this year. Nor will his Virginia classmate Daniel Miller worry about falling behind in his biochemistry class when he’s on road trips with the university’s hockey team.

When Kassem, Casey and Miller head back to school in the coming weeks, they and other students will have an assortment of high-tech resources that their parents never dreamed of. In both K-12 and Higher Education, Microsoft has new products expressly designed to help students make the grade while allowing teachers to provide more effective instruction. For parents who have ever felt overwhelmed at the prospect of helping their children with homework, Microsoft software can provide the support needed to get assignments completed with a minimum of frustration and stress. Notably, these products have been developed over the past two years in collaboration with students, teachers and parents.

“Going back to school doesn’t have to be overwhelming for students, especially when they go back with the technology they need to succeed,” says Craig Bartholomew, General Manager, Microsoft Education Products Group. “In today’s information-saturated world, students need the best tools to support their work in and out of the classroom. The latest software and other educational technology from Microsoft help students turn all of the information at their disposal into knowledge.”

Indispensable Help from Microsoft Student 2006

It will be easier for kids in middle and high school to ease into fall with Microsoft Student 2006. This new product is a comprehensive software package that includes the tools and trusted information students need to achieve academic success. Curriculum-based templates and tutorials, Graphing Calculator software, trusted digital reference content and tools for cutting through online clutter make Microsoft Student 2006 indispensable to students seeking to complete high-quality assignments and projects in less time. To save time, students also have easy access to common science and math formulas with the Equation Library.

“Homework helper software is going to be huge,” says high schooler Kassem. “These programs are very easy to use and they are a really helpful way of aiding a student in getting their homework completed in no time and with peace of mind.”

Graphing Calculator software addresses the most common homework anxiety: Math. The Graphing Calculator offers an easy-to-use display that is intuitive and customizable to help students solve math problems in a variety of subjects from statistics to trigonometry. It enables students to graph in 2D and 3D and in full color so they can really appreciate and understand the math concepts they are studying. “I was amazed at how well it graphed,” says Brianna Lee, a 17-year-old recent graduate of the Bartram School in Philadelphia. “It has many more options than a handheld calculator and was easier to use.”

The Graphing Calculator goes well beyond what users have to come to expect in handheld calculators. It has a familiar calculator look and feel, but delivers more than decimal output. Instead, it gives the symbolic output – actual math notation and syntax – that learners and teachers of mathematics want to see. It also provides equation solving for algebra typically found only in expensive and difficult-to-use computer algebraic systems. And it provides exceptional graphing and visualizations of mathematics such as tracing the values of x and y coordinates on plots or animating graphs to convey greater understanding.

For research and information gathering, Microsoft Student provides a Web Companion, which helps students sift through the unfiltered mass of information available on the Internet by connecting students to relevant and credible Encarta content. In language arts, Book Summaries delivers assistance by including synopses, biographical background on authors and analyses of themes and characters to facilitate students’ understanding and appreciation for more than 1,000 classic works of literature.

Microsoft Student 2006 is now available worldwide except Italy and France, where it will be available the first week of September 2005.

Learning Essentials Makes Microsoft Office More Relevant for Students and Teachers

Key to providing students and teachers the tools and information they need to create high quality work is Learning Essentials for Microsoft Office, a new product being offered at no additional charge to schools that have acquired Microsoft Office XP or 2003, Standard or Professional Editions, through the Microsoft Academic Volume Licensing program. Learning Essentials is a desktop application that runs on top of Microsoft Office to give students and teachers a custom Office environment designed for 21st-century learning. This tool includes curriculum-based templates to help students with a variety of subjects and assignments, from history reports and English papers to physics projects and chemistry lab reports. Dozens of templates are included for writing projects, science reports, presentations, even applying to college.

Microsoft Student 2006 boxshot

When students open Microsoft Office Word, for example, they can begin with instruction on the writing process and how to structure a report. “The breakdown of the pre-writing process in the tutorial – first draft, writing, revising and so on – is great,” says Kathy Carter, a teacher at Woods Cross High School in Woods Cross, Utah. “The ‘play’ button that shows examples of thesis statements, opinion statements and other components helps kids understand what they should look like. I know that students will be amazed by this feature.” The Student Edition of Learning Essentials is included in Microsoft Student 2006.

Learning Essentials is also a valuable tool for teachers, helping them to get all they need out of Microsoft Office. Simple step-by-step wizards save educators time in creating quizzes and tests; tutorials feature new teaching strategies and best practices. This tool lets teachers focus on the task at hand, rather than on which Microsoft Office application to open.

Learning Essentials incorporates tutorial content from leading educational publishers including Axia NetMedia Corp.’s Intelligence Online, Great Source division of Houghton Mifflin, McGraw-Hill Education, Pearson Prentice Hall, SchoolKiT and Tom Snyder Productions Inc., a Scholastic company.

Learning Essentials for Microsoft Office is available in Brazilian Portuguese, Dutch, International English, French, Italian, Spanish and Swedish. It will be available in Arabic, Finnish, German, Norwegian and Russian in September 2005. Simplified Chinese, Japanese and Korean versions are planned but not yet scheduled.

Tapping Into an Online Reference Goldmine

Additional breadth of content is available to students in Encarta Academic Online Edition, a new online version of the award-winning reference designed specifically for academic institutional subscribers. Built on the best-selling online encyclopedia brand, Encarta Academic Online Edition comprises a comprehensive online encyclopedia that could fill a 30-volume print encyclopedia and that provides students with a valuable source for learning tools and premium content that enhance learning productivity. This resource gives students access to more than 70,000 articles edited by a team of thousands of experts in science, history, geography and math. The Encarta Reference Library also includes the Encarta Interactive World Atlas, the Encarta World English Dictionary and Thesaurus and translation dictionary and a multimedia center.

Encarta Academic Online is available for the following countries: Australia, Canada (English and French), France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. Students have one-click access to all language versions of Encarta Academic Online. Whether studying a foreign language and culture or learning English as a second language, students can choose the language-specific content that supports their learning objectives.

Safeguards for Shared Student Computers

To ensure that instructional computers running Microsoft academic products remain safe, secure and reliable, the Microsoft Shared Computer Toolkit for Windows XP has been developed for customers in K-12 schools, community colleges, universities, public libraries and similar venues. Designed for people with little IT training yet relevant to IT professionals, the Toolkit includes new features that help customers to:

  • Restrict untrusted users from accessing system, settings and data or running unauthorized software

  • Defend shared computers from viruses, spyware and user tampering by clearing all changes to the hard disk each time the computer restarts

  • Enhance the computing experience and privacy for students

The key benefits of installing and using the Toolkit include easier configuration of shared computers, enhanced protection against security threats and exceptional computer reliability. Consequently, it is expected that administrators will spend less time troubleshooting issues with shared computers and more time delivering a better experience to their users. Customers with Windows XP Professional, Windows XP Home Edition and Windows XP Tablet PC can download and evaluate a Beta copy of the Toolkit today at Version 1.0 is expected to be released later this summer.

“Over 98 percent of instructional PCs in schools are shared in labs or classrooms,” says Bartholomew. “Our company-wide commitment to Trustworthy Computing has special import in the work we do for education. We want technology to be accessible and easy-to-use. We want students to be able to locate and use the full range of information and resources available on the Internet. But especially where kids are concerned, we want the information they can access to be trusted and reliable. And we want schools and other similar public institutions to be able to safeguard their shared computers in classrooms or computer labs. The Shared Computer Toolkit is an important and meaningful step toward meeting this goal.”

Microsoft Office OneNote 2003 Improves Student Performance

For many college and university students, the challenge isn’t finding enough information and resources. It’s managing all of the textbooks, online research, written and recorded lecture notes, study guides and other documents that they must review when studying for exams or preparing term papers. With the introduction of a note-taking application called Microsoft Office OneNote 2003, which is available internationally, students can keep all their notes in one place and be more prepared for classes, exams, and study sessions.

The law school at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, for example, is capitalizing on this new note-taking application to transform the way instructors capture and review students’ performance in class. When used in combination with inexpensive Web cameras that are available in the classroom, the audio and video recording features of OneNote 2003 enable students to easily capture their performance in class exercises, review them and deliver a digital copy of the video to professors or teaching assistants for feedback.

Students are finding OneNote to be useful for more than just the recording of in-class exercises. “With OneNote, I can stay organized as I type the information,” says Eric Widmar, a third-year law student at Brigham Young. “I don’t need to divert my attention from the lecture, nor do I need to come back and reorganize my notes at a later time. And when the time comes to study, the note flags summaries in OneNote provide an instant list of what I need to learn.”

Windows XP Tablet PC Edition Adds to Student Success

A successful student is one who can effectively organize, prioritize, and use their notes and the other information available to them. Notebook PCs running Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005 and Microsoft Office OneNote 2003 software are making it easier for students and instructors to keep on top of and get more out of all of the information and other resources at their disposal.

Although students can use OneNote with a desktop or laptop to benefit from its powerful audio and video recording capabilities, the combination of Microsoft Office OneNote 2003 software and Tablet PCs allow students to take advantage of the great features of OneNote using ink or text.

The new Microsoft Education Pack for Windows XP Tablet PC edition and the Experience Pack for Tablet PC released earlier this year provide additional tools and resources. Both packs are available only in English. They may be downloaded free at

At the University of Virginia, a pilot program now in its second year, is changing the way students learn and instructors teach. Through the program, about 400 students are assigned an HP Tablet PC and provided online and other educational tools from Thompson Learning. Each of the Tablet PCs includes OneNote 2003. In several classes, all or most of the instruction delivered by instructors is via Tablet PCs. The students take notes within OneNote 2003 on their Tablet PCs, using either the built-in keyboard or by writing on the screen with a pen-like stylus.

Miller, one of the students who took part in the first year of the pilot, had no problem giving up the spiral paper notebooks he used to carry around – and sometimes lost – for electronic notes. “I can keep all of my notes in one thin computer instead of carrying one notebook for each class,” Miller says. “I can back up my notes onto another computer or a disk, so I don’t run the risk of losing a semester of notes, as I did a few years ago when I lost one of my notebooks right before finals. That was a mess.”

Using OneNote 2003, Miller records the professor’s lecture and imports the professor’s Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2003 slides into his notes. He can then write on top of the slides and synchronize the audio recording with his notes. While on road trips with the hockey team, Miller listens to the lecture all over again, and watches the notes he took appear in time with the lecture. “It’s almost like being in class,” he says.

Referencing notes from previous classes is also becoming easier since Miller’s UVA classmate Casey switched to Tablet PC and OneNote. Before last year, Casey kept all of his old notebooks in a crate next to his desk. It would take 30 minutes of flipping and scanning through the 300-page loose-leaf notebooks to find anything. Now he can type a keyword into OneNote’s search field and instantly find the relevant notes within his files.

Education and Experience Packs Increase Study Power

The Microsoft Education Pack for Windows XP Tablet PC Edition provides five programs that allow students to become even more organized and ratchet up their study skills another notch. Ink Flash Cards, Equation Writer, Send to Microsoft Office OneNote 2003, GoBinder Lite, a scheduling tool, and Hexic Deluxe for Tablet PC help students study effectively—and have a little fun while they’re at it.

This year, Microsoft released another add-on. The Experience Pack for Tablet PC comprises six programs – Ink Desktop, Snipping Tool, Ink Art, Media Transfer, Ink Crossword and Energy Blue Theme Pack – to increase students’ productivity and promote creativity. The snipping tool allows students to cut and paste sections of text and graphics from Web sites where they are doing research. They can then save the digital snippet within OneNote 2003 files or send it via e-mail. The URL of the site is retained within the snippet, taking much of the hassle out of creating a bibliography once students complete their research.

University of Virginia chemistry instructor Charles Grisham believes Tablet PCs and OneNote 2003 are not only making his students better organized, but also allowing them to learn better, especially in courses that require students to maintain detailed notes and draw diagrams. “For many years, computing devices, including calculators made students stupid, not smarter,” Grisham said. “The Tablet PC is the first step in taking us back to writing and drawing by hand and all of the other methods that worked before there were computers. But Tablet PCs are doing this while providing so many other resources that help students organize information and engage and interact with each other and their instructors.”

“Thanks to valuable insight and feedback from students, parents and educators, we’ve developed new products for K-12 and Higher Education that bring learning to life,” says Bartholomew. “I’m pleased with the progress we’re making in the very important area of helping students to achieve and to experience academic success.”

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