Have you followed the trend of Microsoft’s innovation in Education?  It’s been an interesting path, for sure – especially if you trace the roots far enough back.  You could almost put it into a 3-phased approach…

Phase 1 – Software
Surely you remember not-so-long bygone products like Encarta and perhaps even Class Server that focused on classroom enrichment and management.  More recently we’ve dug in deeper to optimizing the learning experience with products like Learning Essentials – the Office add-on specifically designed for helping students and teachers work smarter; Math – everything you need to tackle math and science on your computer; and Semblio – a forthcoming set of tools for publishers and end-users for enriching content used in the classroom.

Phase 2 – Software+Services
In recognition of the power of the web, we’ve also started to play heavily in the cloud space – first by leveraging our consumer-oriented Live and OfficeLab or LiveLab tools for education enrichment (Community Clips, SharedView, MovieMaker) and then by formalizing email and collaboration tools into a centrally managed Live@edu offering for schools.

Phase 3 - Education Labs Home Page
Released in July, Microsoft’s Education Labs is a new web community designed to share the company’s latest innovations for the education community. Educationlabs features a growing collection of free, easy-to-deploy solutions specifically for teaching and learning, and serves as a forum for exchanging ideas that will inform Microsoft’s ongoing research and technology development for education.

A number of new innovations on Education Labs are slated for launch this fall. One launched and is available for download today (9/3) - Math Worksheet Generator; two others, Microsoft Folder-based Sites and Flashcards, will become available later this fall.  Here’s a little detail about these cool little classroom apps.

Math Worksheet Generator – an application for educators to quickly create personalized math worksheets for an entire class or individual students.

  • Eliminates the need to photocopy old worksheets or textbooks to find math problems
  • Worksheets can be used for in-class or take-home assignments, tests, quizzes or materials for tutors
  • Created in Word, which makes it easy to reformat, save and print
  • Integrates with Microsoft Math 3.0

Microsoft Folder-Based Sites – helps educators create a Web site which automatically converts files such as Word documents, spreadsheets and PowerPoint decks into HTML files, allowing educators to easily store, organize and share their materials with their students online.

  • Easy folder creation to organize and categorize documents via “drag-and-drop”
  • Browser-viewable - no special applications are needed on students’ computers
  • Ability to upload many files at once – a feature not typically supported by existing LMS offerings

Flashcards – an interactive application for educators and students to create flashcard decks or choose from a catalogue of digital flashcards featuring audio, text or pictures.

  • Personalizes the studying experience for the student
  • Uses a special algorithm to track how many times a student visits a card to help them know how they are progressing on a study subject

Oh yeah – did I mention all of these are FREE?  Start enhancing your classroom environment today with innovative EducationLabs downloads and forums – http://www.educationlabs.com