Four new low-cost Windows 10 PCs for schools that are stronger, easy to set up and have faster WiFi connectivity are to be released.
The devices were announced by Microsoft ahead of Bett, a major education conference in the UK, along with new partnerships to increase collaboration in classrooms, updates to Office and Minecraft aimed at helping children learn, a tie-up with NASA, and a mixed-reality curriculum to ensure youngsters get the most out of the latest technology.
During the event at the ExCeL in London this week, Microsoft will unveil the Lenovo 100e, an Intel Celeron Apollo Lake powered PC that starts at just $189; the Lenovo 300e, a two-in-one PC that costs $279; the Classmate Leap T303, starting at $199; and the Trigono V401 2-in-1, which starts at $299.
“We know affordability is priority number one for many schools,” said Yusuf Mehdi, Corporate Vice-President of Windows and Devices Group at Microsoft. “Shrinking budgets can sometimes force schools to choose devices with a stripped-down experience and a limited lifespan, and, over time, these devices cost schools more and do less to prepare students for the future.
“Our new Windows 10 devices won’t force schools to compromise on features, giving schools cutting-edge tools like touch, inking, and 3D as well as free accessibility technology like Learning Tools, which improve reading comprehension by 10 percentile points for students of all abilities.”
All four devices, which run on Windows 10, will be spill-resistant and ruggedized to avoid breakages; all-day battery life will ensure children can use the PCs for long periods throughout the school day without having multiple charging cables around the room; and schools can also enjoy faster connectivity to the internet.
They are also compatible with Intune for Education, which allows school staff to set up a host of school PCs in minutes and is up to 70% cheaper than Google’s Management Console. Plus, they feature Touch, which allows multiple users to use one screen at the same time; Inking, which lets children draw on the screen using their fingers or Microsoft’s pen; and 3D, which gives kids the opportunity to create and edit three-dimensional objects.
There was also good news for schools using Office 365 for Education, which is free for teachers in 146 countries:
- Teams Now accessible on iOS and Android so teachers and students can keep track of assignments and classroom conversations on phones and tablets. The newest updates will also make it easy to translate any conversation or chat into another language.
- Microsoft Learning Tools Microsoft will introduce dictation in Office to help students of all abilities write more easily by using their voice. Immersive Reader functionality will also expand to Word for Mac, iPhone, Outlook Desktop, OneNote iPad and OneNote Mac, with support for many new languages.
- OneNote There is now assignment and grade integration with the UK’s most widely-used School Information System (SIS), Capita SIMS, and Powerschool, the leading SIS in the US. Microsoft is also enabling Desmos interactive math calculators – a set of top apps for STEM teachers around the world. Finally, following requests from teachers, Class Notebook pages can be locked as read-only after feedback is given.
- PowerPoint Teachers can now record their lessons – including slides, interactive ink, video and narrations – and publish them to their Stream channel in Teams classrooms. This means students can view the presentation from anywhere prior to the class. Stream will also add automatic captioning to the videos to make them accessible to all learners.
Bett is aimed at the global education community and brings together 850 leading companies, 103 edtech start-ups and more than 34,700 attendees from 131 countries. They come together to to celebrate, find inspiration and discuss the future of education, as well as the role technology and innovation plays in enabling all educators and learners to thrive.
Bett is held from January 24 to January 27.