Microsoft Classroom and School Data Sync (SDS) In Preview

Microsoft Classroom and SDS Preview in U.S. and other regions. SharePoint Framework Developer Preview in GitHub now available. Individualizing instruction with new Microsoft Forms.

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Unveiled back in April of this year, Microsoft Classroom opened today a preview for any schools' IT admins to try out Microsoft Classroom and School Data Sync.

It's back-to-school time in the U.S., just yesterday only, Google Classroom was opened, and now Microsoft invite you to the Microsoft Classroom Preview and the School Data Sync (SDS) Preview.

IT admins can visit the preview instructions right now or (for a limited time) sign up to receive free one-on-one help directly from Microsoft.

Microsoft Classroom is a single homepage experience for educators managing all classes, and collaborate and assignment workflows for teachers and students.

Microsoft Classroom

Teachers can use the Office documents and class materials they already have – or create new ones using familiar Office applications like Word, Excel and PowerPoint as well as exciting new applications OneNote Class Notebook and Sway. The Classroom page connects to all of a school's Office 365 Education apps like OneNote Class Notebooks.

"With these products in Office 365 Education, everyone wins. School IT departments can save time and money, teachers can improve student outcomes and students can have better learning experiences," Office team stated.

Microsoft School Data Sync (SDS)

On the other hand, the School Data Sync (SDS) helps schools automatically create online classes used by Microsoft Classroom. It also helps Student Information System (SIS) and app partners to integrate with each other so they can build richer learning experiences for the classroom. SDS supports importing CSV files—so it supports virtually every SIS in the market.

SDS is "the easiest way to provision online classrooms in Office 365 Education." It helps educators create and manage online classes and then connect that data with virtually any other third-party apps or databases schools might rely on through the free Azure Active Directory Graph API.

Additonally, Single sign-on and Windows 10—Office 365 also helps app vendors to use single sign-on (SSO), which helps reduce learning friction so teachers can get more done in the classroom.

With SSO, "when the student is signed in to Office 365, they're automatically signed in to all their SSO apps," explained Office team.

Educators can also look forward to Windows 10 Anniversary update-enabled specialties such as enhanced pen support for tackling handwriting and mathematical equations.

To this end, the company also announcing that OneNote ink now includes new features exclusive to Windows 10, like ink effects and ink math assistant, that not only support student creativity by letting students shade, sketch, draft, save and share ideas with their favorite rainbow colors (a student's request), it recognizes math equations.

The preview is open now and IT admins can sign up here.

To lerarn more, you can visit Microsoft Classroom website, or watch this interactive guide, "Introducing Microsoft Classroom," to give you an overview of Microsoft Classroom--as well videos embedded below::

Today, Microsoft has been making some headway with its Office 365 Education offerings and the company released a video to highlight some specialized services within its educational offerings.

Today, we're highlighting some exciting new features of Office 365 Education for the upcoming school year – Microsoft Classroom, School Data Sync, Microsoft Forms, OneNote ink and Learning Tools. And remember, Office 365 Education is free for students and teachers."

Microsoft's OneNote, one of the most popular cloud-based app allowing you to type, scribble, record, and import essentially anything into your own cross-platform notebook.

Today, making it easy for mac user to move from the competitor Evernote with the new OneNote Importer tool for Mac.

The OneNote Importer tool was until now available on PC—and has "helped Windows users import 71 million Evernote pages since March," revealed OneNote team.

As Microsoft says, "the Importer tool makes moving day easy." Once your Evernote notes are imported, they'll sync across all your devices, including PC, iOS and Android, as well as web browsers—for free.

So, why to make a move—in a sales pitch—the team compared said that "while Evernote premium costs $7.99 per month—but Office 365 Personal is only a $6.99 per month."

And with "Office 365 personal you get all of Office 365's apps, and 1 TB of cloud storage in OneDrive."

To use the Importer tool, you'll need a Mac running OS X 10.11 El Capitan or better. To speed up the migration process, the company recommends having Evernote for Mac installed on your machine, and sign in into the Evernote app for Mac with your account—and then sync all your notes before initiatiing importing.

You can download the OneNote Importer tool for Mac here.

Watch this short video below to see how easy it is to use the OneNote Importer tool:

This year, Microsoft joined at the Institute for Advanced Study's Park City Mathematics Institute (PCMI)—a three-week, residential program for mathematics teachers from around the world.

Microsoft and the Office team helped teachers better use their peers as resources, getting them to come together and work on education resources together

It is the latter in which Office Online and Office 365 has made summer work possible using OneNote Online, OneDrive, Skype for Business.

Once everybody got over the hurdle of "Why can't we use Google Docs?" First, "we had used Google Docs in the past, but when we were ready to store and share the documents, there were issues with formatting fidelity across both the documents and the PowerPoint decks," the team explained.

With Office Online, "what you see is really what you get when you download in the universal Word or PowerPoint format."

oneonote online and onedrive helping maths teachers at pcmi

Over the past few months, customers are increasing both the number of Office 365 Groups created and average monthly usage.

"It's great to see customers getting value out of the service."

The Exchange team helping customers with an easy way to transform traditional Distribution Groups to Office 365 Groups—just announced two recently added sets of tools to meet this request.

First up, Exchange Admin Center now "offers an option to upgrade eligible Distribution Groups to Office 365 Groups with one click," explained the team. Or 'Office 365 administrators can use PowerShell scripts that we've published to accomplish this task," added exchange team.

In addition, a change rolled out to the Exchange Admin Center helping "remind Office 365 administrators about the advantages of Office 365 Groups."

"When administrators begin to create a new Distribution Group, they'll be taken to the Office 365 Group creation page and encouraged to create a group there. If administrators want to create a traditional Distribution Group instead, a link gives them quick access the Distribution Group creation page," the team explained.

If you are using Office 365 and haven't yet moved traditional Distribution Groups (also known as Distribution Lists or DLs) over to Office 365 Groups,

Also, the first public developer preview of the SharePoint Framework is launched today.

According to Microsoft, SharePoint Framework Developer Preview will get you started:

With this initial release, "you can start building client-side web parts using modern script development tools and the SharePoint Workbench (a new development test surface), and you can deploy your client-side web parts to classic web part pages in Office 365 Developer tenants," explained the team.

In addition to plain JavaScript projects, the SharePoint Framework works alongside common scripting frameworks, such as AngularJS," and additionally "Microsoft also expanding tools for these frameworks."

For getting started, check out this early documentation that offer an overview of the framework, walkthroughs, and detailed documentation of the framework APIs at at GitHub.

The team also stated that they'll publish more polished documents to a SharePoint portal on dev.office.com.

The team provide its roadmap stating over the next several weeks and months, you'll see us move quickly here:

  • "We'll iterate on the preview frequently – delivering modern page editing experiences, enabling seamless access to data in other O365 workloads through the Microsoft Graph, streamlining the tools, and moving toward general availability.
  • In the longer term, we'll expand the framework beyond web parts to custom pages and portals, as well as document library customization.
  • We will expand support of the SharePoint Framework beyond Developer tenancies to the full set of Office 365 tenancies later this year.
  • We will also make the SharePoint Framework available for SharePoint 2016 on-premises releases, targeting 2017," the team stated.

sharepoint framework

Finally, Microsoft Forms is one of many "welcome-back-to-school gifts" specifically focused on the needs of teachers brought to you by Microsoft engineers.

The team explaining Microsoft Forms says "Forms replaces Excel Survey with more user-friendly, engaging and easy-to-manage features."

Adding, Forms is the new "'go-to' resource for summative and formative assessments, surveys and so much more," that teachers can use to measure a students progress.

It was made available just under two months ago.

Forms is available by default for any student or teacher using Office 365 Education.

Talk to your administrator if you don't see it in your app launcher! In addition, authoring Forms can be done in all major browsers and then completed in any browser or device—even mobile devices.

My favorite feature in Forms—Individual responses

  • A brand new feature, based on teacher feedback, is Summary responses, which allows teachers to quickly see class-wide trends. Teachers can also "pop out" and project one of the questions in the summary response to watch the pie charts change in real-time with their students, as answers are submitted. That makes for a visually engaging, real-time experience for students, too.
  • While Summary responses helps teachers see class-wide responses, in today's classroom teachers also need the ability to capture individual feedback to quickly guide instructional decisions, and more.
  • That's why the Individual responses option, linked to Summary responses, is an incredibly welcome addition to Forms, and perhaps my favorite feature!
  • As a teacher, I now have the ability to identify individual student mastery, struggles and possible needs with a quick click of a button while still accessing whole-group summative data.
  • And the link between the summative and individual responses is what makes Forms an incredibly valuable tool for educators around the world, the team noted.

Watch this video to get started with Forms: