Microsoft offers free software to UK schools battling the coronavirus lockdown

Package includes free training for teachers and access to Minecraft's Education edition

Microsoft has announced that it will assist all UK schools in getting set up for remote learning, in order to help students continue to learn while at home.

The company has pledged to work with the 27,000 schools in the UK, helping them run lessons remotely using Microsoft Teams, Office 365, as well as software such as Minecraft: Education Edition, Flipgrid, Skype in the Classroom and InTune.

The tools are available to use on mobile devices, tablets, PCs and browsers, and focus on encouraging teamwork by allowing collaborations, communication and file sharing in real-time. Microsoft emphasised that the tools “offer a safe and secure learning environment, using intelligent security features enhanced by machine learning to protect data and identities”.

Microsoft UK’s director of education, Chris Rothwell, praised teachers for “showing incredible resilience, imagination, and passion to ensure that they can help keep children safe and can keep learning while they at home”.

“Technology is helping teachers keep in touch with students and to maintain a connection to the school and each other,” he said. “This offer to support any school get fully set up for remote learning is so that every school and pupil can benefit, and that learning can continue while schools are closed.”

In order to support teaching staff, Microsoft has also launched webinars aiming to promote the benefits of Teams. The topics covered include creating an online classroom, keeping students engaged with online meetings, as well as assisting IT Administrators in setting up Teams for online collaboration.

Schools across the UK have been closed since 20 March, allowing only vulnerable pupils and the children of key workers, such as NHS staff, to attend. Latest reports indicate that schools are not planning to reopen after Easter break.

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