Wellbeing a focus of Microsoft education software

New tools in Microsoft's education products look to enhance student well-being.
Jun 1, 2021
Safety and praise are new product features

Chances are you used a Microsoft product today and their ubiquity could be a force in helping students to feel better about themselves.

Reflect is a check-in app that supports educators in building a classroom environment and praise badges and sticker packs are new Microsoft product features that have an eye on students’ happiness.

“We know that emotions are the gatekeeper to cognition. Students who are happy and safe generally fare better in their learning. A systematic review of intervention research  from Evidence for Learning found that students involved in well-being interventions were up to 4+ months ahead in learning,” says Travis Smith, K12 Education Industry Lead at Microsoft Australia. 

“The Reflect app in Teams helps students identify and navigate their emotions by providing regular opportunities to share and be heard. Reflect can help broaden learners' emotional vocabulary and deepen empathy for their peers, whilst also providing valuable feedback to help educators build a healthy classroom community.”

Microsoft has listened to teachers and baked suggestions and feedback into the new tools included in One Note and Teams.

Teachers emphasised how the past year served as a reminder that learning starts with connection, community, and well-being.

“Our newly embedded tools in OneNote and Teams, including praise badges and sticker packs, are specifically designed to help students and educators feel more connected to one another, to build meaningful and trusted relationships, and boost engagement both at home and in the classroom.

“We have also made several improvements to Microsoft Teams based on educator feedback, which has seen the product evolve significantly from where it was this time last year. A great example of this is the ‘Raise your hand’ feature that has helped educators solve day-to-day challenges, such as marking attendance or selecting students to speak during a lesson."

Supervised Chat is another new feature that was developed by Microsoft based on feedback received from teachers and leaders looking for ways to ensure safety in online platforms.

Through Supervised Chat, a student cannot be left alone with another student in an online forum without a teacher being present, and teachers cannot choose to leave an online chat with students still present. This is an important means to combating issues like bullying, and it helps students stay engaged and focused on their work.

“We have certainly seen an increase in video conferencing skills as teachers, students, and parents, have come to rely on this technology over the course of the pandemic. Having said that, it is important to note there is more to creating an impactful virtual classroom than adopting video conferencing technology,” he says.

Microsoft Teams for Education brings all learning resources required into one place and tools like Microsoft’s new Reading Progress and Group Assignments help educators to pursue a personalised, and data-driven approach to learning.

“Reading Progress is an entirely new category of product that helps students address reading fluency through measurement and feedback. Meanwhile, Group Assignments means educators can now organise their students into assignment groups so they can work together to create, collaborate, and submit work.”