Microsoft unveiled a big education push exactly a year ago today, and for 2019, the software maker is equally committed to challenging Chromebooks in a variety of ways. Like last year, Microsoft is introducing a range of Windows 10 devices for education, with one priced at $189. There are seven devices in total, including two new 2-in-1 devices from Acer and Lenovo that start at less than $300. Acer, Dell, and Lenovo are also offering more affordable 13- and 15-inch laptops in the $300 range.
One of the more interesting devices is Lenovo’s 300e 2-in-1. Priced at $289, it includes stylus support and even the ability to work with a No. 2 pencil. That means if the stylus goes missing in a busy classroom, anyone can just pick up a pencil and continue to use the laptop. Lenovo is also offering last year’s 100e at $189, complete with USB-C support and up to 10 hours of battery life.
Microsoft’s new Classroom Pen works on all modern Surface devices
Microsoft launched its Surface Go back in August with schools and students in mind, but the company has now created a dedicated Microsoft Classroom Pen that works with recent Surface devices. It’s a more durable Surface Pen, with a hardened tip and a replacement tip if students don’t look after the stylus. It also has a slot at the end, allowing teachers to tether it to devices so it doesn’t go missing. Powered by a single AAAA battery, it includes two buttons for erasing and right click functions.
The Microsoft Classroom Pen will ship in all Surface Go markets worldwide in February, and it will be sold exclusively to education institutions in packs of 20 for $799.80 (roughly $39.99 per pen). While it’s primarily designed for the Surface Go, the Classroom Pen will also work with any device that supports the Microsoft Pen Protocol (MPP). Surface Pro 3 and newer Surface devices will work with it, as will many other Windows devices that support MPP.
Microsoft’s ongoing Chromebook challenge doesn’t just involve hardware. Flipgrid is continuing to be an important part of the software and services that Microsoft offers both students and teachers, alongside Microsoft Teams for education. Microsoft acquired Flipgrid in June, and it’s continued as a video discussion platform for teachers and students. Microsoft isn’t unveiling any major changes to Flipgrid just yet, but Microsoft Teams is getting some big new additions for teachers.
Microsoft is connecting existing student information systems to Microsoft Teams through a new Grade Sync feature (preview available). It automatically sends grades from Teams assignments directly into a teacher’s student information system, saving all important teacher time. Microsoft is also helping teachers make better use of their time by enabling mobile grading for the Teams mobile app on iOS and Android. One of the more interesting services Microsoft is also enabling is Turnitin integration. Turnitin stops students from plagiarizing content from around the web by scanning it as the students hand it in.
Microsoft made some Windows Mixed Reality content available last year, and for 2019, the company has partnered with VictoryVR to give schools free virtual reality curricula when they purchase a headset. The software maker is also bringing its Immersive Reader to the Windows Mixed Reality environment, which includes translation features to make it easier to read documents.
Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. For more information, see our ethics policy.