Nearly two years after Microsoft launched its Office 365 for Business public roadmap for enterprise customers, the software giant is giving its education customers a similar level of forward visibility into the software maker's plans for Office.
"Anyone investing in technology for their school, college or university has the added responsibility of building an environment that will shape the learning paths of hundreds or even thousands of young people," stated Microsoft in a May 9 announcement. "Therefore, it's important to know not only what the current capabilities of technology are, but where it's going in the future."
The Office 365 education roadmap builds on the existing Office 365 roadmap and can be accessed by selecting the education checkbox under the Services filter. The Website will then display the appropriate updates, arranged into five categories: launched, rolling out, in development, canceled and previously released.
As of this writing, 26 updates are currently listed as in development, many of which also are features business customers can expect to see. Upcoming updates include a Class Notebook add-in for the Mac version of OneNote and the ability to embed Sways, the company's Web-based platform for interactive presentations, into Microsoft Classroom. On the chopping block is a feature that would have limited sharing of Class Notebook section groups using Mac and iOS apps over concerns that it would have broken the notebook-sharing model.
Office isn't the only product Microsoft is enlisting in its push into the education market. When the Windows 10 Anniversary Update is released this summer, it will include two apps aimed at the classroom.
A new Take a Test app will enable standardized testing and allow teachers or a school's IT staffers to provide a secure environment for quizzes and exams taken digitally. The operating system update will also include an app called Set Up School PCs that winnows down the process of configuring classroom PCs into three steps. On entry-level devices typically used by schools, new performance tweaks will help drop Windows log-ins to just 6 seconds, helping students get back to their lessons faster.
Meanwhile, the IT giant has launched a new program that connects Microsoft staffers with students and teachers over Skype, potentially sparking more interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), announced Eran Megiddo, corporate vice president of Microsoft Education, OneNote and Wunderlist engineering.
"We call this effort Meet the Microsofties. Using our Skype in the Classroom program through the Microsoft Educator Community, your students' voices can shape the future of Microsoft technology for the classroom," Megiddo wrote in a blog post. "This is also a great opportunity for your students to learn about the importance of STEM and hear firsthand what a career in tech looks like."
Meet the Microsofties calls will typically last 20 to 30 minutes. Requesting a Skype call requires that users register with the Microsoft Educator Community, navigate to the Skype Classroom and find a suitable date and time.