The big are getting bigger. Microsoft has announced a number of Office 365 Education features for the 2016-2017 school year in a blog post.
First in line was PLC Groups Preview, aimed at helping educators connect more easily with their professional learning communities. PLC Groups Preview will also integrate with the newly released Microsoft Planner. Preview signups are available here.
Microsoft also revealed a repurposed Docs.com, meant to facilitate more fluid sharing of documents—OneNote notebooks, Word documents, Excel workbooks, PowerPoint slide decks, interactive Sways, PDFs. Classrooms, schools and districts can keep their content private with Organizational Visibility, which only allows those with an institutional login to view the content.
Microsoft Forms, announced in April, received two upgrades: auto-grading and real-time feedback. The first integrates grading features into forms, whereas teachers formerly were forced to download other grading software as a workaround, and the second allows teachers to provide direct digital feedback to students on assessments.
The company also issued a list of 35 current and future partners whose systems will now work with with OneNote Class Notebook and Office 365 for Education. In April, Microsoft integrated Class Notebook with several learning management systems, student information systems and grade books. In response, teachers began asking for more and more communication between disparate software, the company said. Microsoft has already implemented 20 of the integrations, and it wrote that the other 15 are upcoming.
Office 365 is free for educators.