Microsoft is rolling out new features for Teams and OneNote as educators and students begin to look to the platform for distance learning at the start of a new school year.
In particular, the new features tackle social-emotional learning (SEL) as educators hope to augment their in-person teaching methods with distance learning technology for students learning from home, the company said in a blog.
Microsoft is releasing SEL-specific Praise Badges that educators can use to recognize a student’s social skills, grow emotional vocabulary and give recognition to students when deserved.
The badges are based on the Big Five model, a well-known SEL framework used by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in their global assessment program.
Educators can use these badges to recognize specific skills that contribute to the Big Five personality traits. IT admins can enable them once they’re available later this month.
The company is also releasing a new SEL sticker pack for OneNote built on the same framework as the badges in Teams. It recognizes the same 12 skills and can be used alongside other OneNote features, like audio and video recording, inking and typed notes.
And, a new Reflect messaging extension in Teams will help educators connect with their students via quick check-in questions and polls.
Another feature in Teams for Education highlighted in Microsoft’s blog is turn-in celebrations that recognize a student for their hard work via animated celebrations when they turn in an assignment.
Microsoft is also collaborating with MindUP on a new virtual learning opportunity designed for educators and parents to talk about the mental health their students and children.
According to Microsoft, more than 230,000 education institutions are using Teams for remote and hybrid learning.