Microsoft Learning Tools Soon Headed to Word App for iPad

After their introduction in the desktop Office applications, Microsoft's software helpers will be available in the Word app for the iPad.

Microsoft Learning Tools

Microsoft's Learning Tools, a collection of free, artificial intelligence-enabled software helpers in Office that assist users in improving their reading and writing skills, will soon be available in the iOS version of the Word app for Apple iPads.

Countering AI doomsayers, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently pointed to his company's Learning Tools as one of the positive contributions AI technologies can make to society. "We infused some tools into Word and OneNote, called Learning Tools, which use machine reading and some of the AI techniques to help children or anyone with dyslexia to be able to read," said Nadella during a Sept. 27 Reuters Newsmaker event in New York City.

Soon, iPad users can give the technology a try.

"In November, Word on iPad will add support for many Immersive Reader capabilities, including Read Aloud functionality," revealed the company in an Oct. 23 blog post. "The Read Aloud capability, which can read words aloud while highlighting them in tandem, is now available in all views via the command in the Review tab, or from the Learning Tools tab."

Read Aloud builds on the Word app's new Mobile View, a feature that alters how the software displays content. Mobile View can be used to change the background color, line length and character spacing. With Learning Tools, the Word app now provides a better user experience for people learning to read and those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia and dysgraphia, a disability associated with impaired writing, claims Microsoft.

Read Aloud is also multilingual. The feature is compatible with all the languages supported by the iOS version of Word, including Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, German, Hebrew, Japanese and several others.

For sixth- to eighth-grade teachers seeking to sharpen their students' math skills, Microsoft Education recently announced a pilot program with Open Up Resources, a nonprofit focused on Open Educational Resources (OER) coursework. The program, launched Oct. 3, supplies teachers with a free mathematics curriculum developed by Illustrative Mathematics that can be managed in OneNote.

Educators can use OneNote to organize and distribute interactive Class Notebooks based on the math curriculum. Using a Microsoft Forms integration, first unveiled in April, teachers can create basic quizzes and questionnaires, the results of which can be exported to Excel or viewed on the service's real-time dashboards. Finally, Microsoft Education is gathering the content engagement data produced by the pilot into custom dashboards that help teachers monitor their progress.

In recent years, Microsoft's note-taking application has made major inroads into the market for educational technology solutions.

The company's Class Notebook add-in turns OneNote into a tool for conducting quizzes, managing assignments and tracking student progress. The software also boasts integrations with leading student information system (SIS) and learning management system (LMS) solutions.

In August, before the start of the school year, Microsoft enabled a feature that allows OneNote users to embed content from Flipgrid, a social learning platform that uses video to spark classroom discussions. Teachers can get the ball rolling by adding a topic or posing a question, to which students respond using short video clips.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...