If I had envisioned what AI in the classroom would look like five years ago, I would've imagined students wearing futuristic headsets whilst exploring holographic scenes. Whilst this isn't wrong, with technology such as the HoloLens and VR/AR featuring in classrooms worldwide, what I'm most surprised by is the transformative impact AI is having from within the tools we know and love... Word, PowerPoint and OneNote. Augmented and Virtual Reality is opening avenues that were once impossible to explore from within the classroom walls however I believe that the AI embedded into the Office 365 suite of productivity tools is truly transforming teaching and learning in the classroom by empowering every learner.
Let's take a closer look at some of these tools and how they empower every learner in the classroom.
The Immersive Reader
The Immersive Reader empowers every learner to access written text by not just reading the text aloud, but allowing students to change the font size, type, page colour, highlight nouns, verbs and adjectives as well as selecting line focus, providing a picture dictionary and allowing students to translate the text into over 60 languages! What is most powerful about this tool is that students are able to adjust the learning to best suit their needs. You can find the Immersive Reader built into Word, OneNote, Edge Browser... the list goes on! You can now even find it in Minecraft: Education Edition and Forms! Learn more about this incredible tool here.
Presenter Coach in PowerPoint Online
The Presenter Coach in PowerPoint empowers students to access instant, personalised feedback on their presentation skills. The Presenter Coach provides students with on screen guidance about their pacing, fluency and use of language, detecting when they are reading from their slides and suggesting they summarise the key points. Once students have finished their rehearsal they are provided with a 'Rehearsal Report' that summarises their feedback into one easy to read report. An incredible tool for students to independently revise and develop their presentation skills.
Math in OneNote
The Math feature in OneNote provides students with step by step scaffolded instructions on how to solve math equations. What's amazing is that this isn't limited to a bank of pre-created questions generated by the app, it takes the student's hand written or typed mathematical equations and provides not only the solution but solution steps to support the student in finding the answer. Another example of how AI is naturally integrated into a tool we all know and love, fundamentally transforming the way students engage in learning. No longer reliant on the teacher, students are empowered to work through their mathematical learning with an instant and personalised support system.
Editor in Word
The 'Review' tab in Word can often get overlooked, however, contained within it are some powerful features to check the overall effectiveness and accessibility of our documents. The 'Check Document' button pulls up the Editor panel and this not only checks for spelling errors but provides feedback on grammar and conciseness. This is a fantastic tool for students to use to review their written work as it provides spelling suggestions (which can also be read-aloud) as well as reviewing the documents 'conciseness' and suggesting alternative statements to make the written text more impactful.
In addition to the 'Check Document' button, the 'Accessibility Checker' is a quick way to ensure the content we create is accessible for all. The checker will pick up on missing alternative text for images and even detect when font colours may be difficult to read due to the contrast.
This list is only the beginning of the incredible AI powered technology that sits within Microsoft's suite of tools and I hope to cover other tools such as PowerPoint captions, Microsoft Translator and Seeing AI in a future post.
I hope this post has brought to light some of the ways teaching and learning can benefit from AI, creating personalised, differentiated learning that empowers our learners to show greater agency.