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Teachers and students worldwide will soon get Microsoft’s Office 365 suite for free

Students using Microsoft Office software on their laptops outside.
On May 2, Microsoft hosted an education-focused event showcasing how Windows 10 can be used to great effect in the classroom. During the presentation, the company announced that Office 365 for Education will be offered to students and teachers at schools all over the world for free.

The Office suite has a number of different applications in an educational environment. Word has long been the standard for writing up and submitting essays, the creation of PowerPoint presentations has become a common homework assignment in recent years, and note-taking tool OneNote offers all kinds of advantages to learners.

The full Office suite will be coming to the Windows Store, making it available to systems running Windows 10 S, which was officially unveiled at today’s event.

Microsoft Teams is being outfitted with some useful features aimed at schools. The service will act as a link between teachers and students, allowing educators to interact with their classes either one-on-one or as a group, and empowering learners to collaborate with one another on projects.

As well as text chat, Teams offers support for video calling. With a view to maintaining a scholarly sense of decorum, Microsoft has implemented a system that allows administrators to mute or delete messages that don’t adhere to proper etiquette.

Students can access documents like assignments and quizzes from Teams, and their teachers can check up on the progress they’re making on their homework and other ongoing projects.

Teachers can also use Teams in conjunction with other programs in the Office suite to give their students freedom to review learning materials on their own time. The principal of Bear Creek Middle School in Fairburn, Georgia appeared on stage to demonstrate how his institution has integrated Office 365 for Education into its teaching practices.

A map appeared on screen, and notes made over the course of a lesson appeared on it in the order that they were added. This functionality allows students to review the lesson as it plays out, rather than simply working from notes as they appeared at the end of the session.

Microsoft is making a serious play for the education sector, and offering up the Office suite for free will be a very tempting proposition for many schools. The company will make these tools available to educators over the summer, so that they’re ready to be used when the new school year gets underway.

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Brad Jones
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Brad is an English-born writer currently splitting his time between Edinburgh and Pennsylvania. You can find him on Twitter…
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