Microsoft’s AI-based educational tools: a game-changer for universities in Slovenia and Croatia

Microsoft's AI-based educational tools: a game-changer for universities in Slovenia/Croatia

AI has the potential to transform education in a variety of ways, such as developing new learning tools, providing aid for creating content, improving student services, simplifying scheduling and more. Microsoft offers a range of solutions that enable students and educators to use AI to enhance their learning and teaching experiences.  

By using AI-powered tools, students and educators can improve their learning outcomes, increase their engagement, and develop their skills for the future. AI can also help reduce the workload and stress for educators and provide them with more insights and data to support their students. Moreover, AI can foster creativity, collaboration, and innovation among learners and teachers, and prepare them for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. 

A team of Microsoft experts, led by Microsoft Education Chief Technology Officer, Serena Sacks – Mandel, recently visited the Universities of Zagreb, Ljubljana, and Maribor to share how Microsoft is helping students and educators harness the power of artificial intelligence (AI) in education 

Student learning tools include Passage generation is available in Reading Progress, free tool available in Teams that helps students practice their reading fluency. It allows educators to generate passages based on the topics and difficulty levels they choose, and to assess students’ reading skills using AI.  

To accelerate math problem solving, Math Assistant in OneNote supports both assignment creation for professors and helpful solution guides for their students. They can solve math problems step by step, with explanations and interactive graphs. It also integrates with Microsoft Forms to create quizzes and assessments.  

Educators can also ensure all students have access to learning by using one of the many Microsoft solutions with built-in accessibility features, including Immersive Reader – a tool that uses AI to improve reading comprehension and accessibility for learners of all ages and abilities. It offers features such as text-to-speech, translation, picture dictionary, and reading preferences to help students read and understand texts better. 

Students can practice public speaking by using Speaker Coach powered by AI to provide personalized feedback on presentation skills in Teams for Education meetings or PowerPoint presentations. For example, AI analyzes speech to give tips about repetitive and inclusive language, filler words, pace, and intonation.  

“Universities that are not focused on the development of new forms of learning and teaching, as well as the implementation of personalized learning tools and methodologies of virtual and augmented reality, will unfortunately lag behind in the future. Therefore, the University of Zagreb is focused on introducing new programs, teaching approaches, and strategies that cater to the individual needs of students and the future needs of the labor market. The collaboration between the University of Zagreb as a regional leader in both the quality of academic activities and comprehensiveness, and Microsoft as a global leader, forms a natural alliance for achieving the stated goals throughout the entire Southeastern Europe region”, said Professor Dr. Tomislav Bolanča, Vice-Rector for Business and Digitalization of the University of Zagreb. While Stipe Gorenjak, MSc in Information Technology Engineering and Head of the IT Support Center at University of Zagreb, Faculty of Kinesiology shared: “Collaboration with Microsoft Croatia started a decade ago, when we pioneered Office 365 with SSO at the Faculty of Kinesiology in Zagreb. Utilizing Azure, we recently migrated infrastructure to the Cloud and established a comprehensive multi-cloud environment for the Faculty’s needs. Microsoft’s partnership in the 2023 digital transformation of the Faculty was pivotal, underscoring their crucial support, and it’s been an honor collaborating with them, contributing to the acceleration of higher education in Croatia and equipping students with vital job market skills.” 

There are also AI-based tools that enable data-based decision monitoring: 

  • Power BI helps educators in advance data monitoring. It uses predictive analysis to provide data, analytics, and visualizations about student performance and wellbeing. The built-in AI illuminates hidden patterns, opportunities, and anomalies in the data without needing to create your own custom AI models.  
  • Edge and Bing’s AI chat functionality can generate lesson plans or give educators ideas to try in the classroom 
  • Bing Chat Enterprise ensures that all the data is protected and will not leak outside of the education organization. While all materials and suggestions should be reviewed by the expert prior to use, educators can use the suggestions to help them brainstorm, synthesize information, or organize content. 

These AI tools complement Microsoft 365 Education, a suite of student-centered solutions that help create an equitable learning environment for all and help students succeed in the classroom and get prepared for the future career. Microsoft 365 includes popular applications like Teams, Outlook, Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote and more.  

“The University of Maribor has been cooperating with Microsoft since 2010, when it started using Office 365 Education for student email and collaboration. The University gradually adopted other Microsoft tools and services, such as Microsoft Teams, which proved to be invaluable during the pandemic. The University chose to use a single platform to ensure a consistent and high-quality user experience for all students and staff and appreciates the variety and potential of Microsoft tools and services, which are embedded in its daily life at various levels,” said Izidor Golob CIO at University of Maribor. 

Education has transformed and today includes online and offline learning and engagement. Being available online creates a challenge for the universities to keep their organization secure, safe, resilient to cyber-attacks, and as well as to protect sensitive data. The need to make universities more resilient by providing Microsoft 365 Education plan that offers built-in management and cybersecurity tools to help protect against threats, and other AI Educational tools for lecturers and students, was one of the discussion topics during Sacks – Mandel visit.  

Our mission is to support educational organizations to make learning easier, more accessible and more innovative. While providing smart educational tools, we also ensure that they add a layer of safety and security to educational organizations. We create tools that use the transformative power of AI to make the learning process smoother and more fun and offer tools to analyze data and improve learning processes. We also have many programs equipping educators with knowledge on AI, to enable them to pass that knowledge to their students who will soon start competing for jobs in the increasingly AI driven workplace,” commented Serena Sacks-Mandel Microsoft Education Chief Technology Officer 

Artificial intelligence in Education raises modern education to a new, more significant level that considers each student in an individualized way, adapting to his interests, opportunities, but also offers solutions for areas where the student needs help, direction, and a way to solve a certain difficulty in understanding and applying what has been learned. 

Through real-time coaching, feedback, and accessible practice opportunities, Microsoft solutions remove barriers to equity and help educators and students build the technical and soft skills needed to excel in their future endeavors. 


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