Microsoft and its hardware partners have revealed a range of new low-cost Windows 10 laptops designed to compete with Chromebooks in the education market.
The new devices, announced to coincide with the Bett show this week, include notebooks for under $200 and 2-in-1 laptop/tablet PCs for under $300.
Lenovo is announcing the 100e, a new Intel Celeron Apollo Lake powered PC, starting at $189, and the Lenovo 300e, a 2-in-1 PC that comes with pen, starting at $299. For emerging markets, JP will sell the Classmate Leap T303 notebook, starting at $199, and the Trigono V401 2-in-1, starting at $299.
Each of these new devices are spill resistant and ruggedized, and has been designed to have have long battery life and 2x2 Wi-Fi for faster connectivity.
Among the slew of other education-related news, Microsoft also said it is building support for voice dictation directly into Microsoft Office from February. While dictation has been supported in Office, previously it required users to install Microsoft's Dictate add-on, which supported dictation in 20 languages and real-time translation of upto 60 languages. Office's Immersive Reader text-to-speech functionality will also be made available on Microsoft Word for Mac, iPhone, Outlook Desktop, OneNote iPad, and OneNote Mac, with support for a variety of new languages.
Microsoft OneNote Class Notebook, a collection of handouts and shared work for classes, has been updated to include assignment and grade integration with the most widely used School Information Systems in the UK, SIMS Capita, and U.S., PowerSchool. Teachers will now also be able to lock pages as read only. The easy-to-use graphing program Desmos will also be enabled within OneNote.
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Presentations in Microsoft PowerPoint can now be recorded—including slides, video and narrations—and published to the Microsoft Teams communication platform, a change Microsoft says will help give students easier access to teaching materials and lessons.
Microsoft is pushing augmented and virtual reality headsets as being a key tool for education, dropping the price for its Hololens headsets for academic institutions until the end of May this year. It also revealed that, from March this year, Pearson will begin rolling out six new educational HoloLens and Windows Mixed Reality applications. Microsoft is also partnering with PBS and NASA to expand its Mixed Reality curriculum through the Bringing the Universe to America's Classrooms initiative.
Microsoft and LEGO Education will also be offering a new free online Hacking STEM lesson plan, which has students use the Pythagorean Theorem to explore and measure topography in 2D/3D space. It will also partner with BBC Earth to bring Oceans: Our Blue Planet themed content to classrooms and museums worldwide. Minecraft: Education Edition is also being upgraded with a free Chemistry Update.
Finally, Microsoft also announced that organizations that buy Microsoft 365 Education licenses between February and December this year will be eligible for free training on how to use the service.
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Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic. He writes about the technology that IT decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.