Merge Releases Hand-Held Digital Teaching Aids

Merge, the leader in mixed reality for K-12 education, announced today their new hand-held digital teaching aids are now available for teachers and students worldwide. The hands-on digital collections help students with science related studies in a whole new way as they continue to learn at home, at school, or in a hybrid environment during and post COVID-19.

“As a Microsoft Education Partner, Merge is focused on providing educators our new hands-on digital teaching aids, which are one of the most significant technological advancements in education since computers were first brought into the classroom over three decades ago,” said Franklin Lyons, Founder and CEO of Merge. “We are working to help teachers across the world upgrade their learning tools by integrating Microsoft technology like Immersive Reader and Teams with Merge EDU.”

“We’re pleased that Merge is a top-tier Microsoft Education Partner,” says Dan Ayoub, General Manager, Education Experiences at Microsoft Corp. “Merge is making an impact in education. The Merge Cube is an innovative school supply: with a single Merge Cube, students have access to thousands of dollars of real-world 3D models they can use for hands-on learning.” Merge’s innovative approach to learning resources is a significant leap forward in giving students the ability to hold and study objects in their hands without having to pass physical models and items to other students. Setting a new standard, the digital teaching aids will alter the way millions of students learn in 150,000 U.S. schools as well as over a billion students worldwide.…Read More

Feds, companies work to close digital divide

According to the survey, cost is holding people back from broadband internet adoption.

According to a recent residential broadband survey, 35 percent of all Americans and 17 million U.S. children live without access to broadband service—and while these statistics are alarming, more companies are pledging assistance and support in an effort to reduce the digital divide.

Consumer Broadband Adoption Trends, the survey from high-speed internet access advocacy group Connected Nation, also showed that out of the 17 million U.S. children without broadband, 7.6 million of these are in low-income households.

Lack of at-home broadband internet services means no Google, no Wikipedia, no finishing homework assignments, no personalized learning, no Facebooking with friends, and no checking eMails for many Americans. It also means no equity, and therefore, lowers chances of graduating high school and finding a job. It also slows economic recovery, job growth, and social development.…Read More

Microsoft’s Imagine Cup aims to inspire creativity

As the world’s best soccer players battle for the World Cup in South Africa, an elite group of student engineers will gather in Poland from July 3-8 to crunch code for Microsoft’s Imagine Cup, reports the Seattle Times. The competition will feature students showing off software aimed at fighting global problems—such as reducing hunger and poverty, and improving education and child health. The Imagine Cup competition has drawn 325,000 students from 100 countries this year. Microsoft uses the competition to spark software creativity and to encourage students to use Microsoft software. “It’s about getting the next generation of innovators doing exciting things not only for the world, but doing great and amazing things on the Microsoft platform,” said Jon Perera, general manager with the Microsoft Education group. The competition began in April with national finals that took place online and in 68 events in different countries. The finalists from those competitions—about 400 high school, college, and graduate students representing 78 countries—are competing in Warsaw. As in the Olympics, student teams compete for titles in several categories, such as game design and digital media. Microsoft, which declined to say how much it spends on Imagine Cup, awards $240,000 in cash prizes and pays for student travel to the national and international final events. Cash prizes range from $2,000 to $25,000. “Our jaws drop on the floor” when they see the entries, Perera said. A University of Washington team designed a touch-screen diagramming program for blind students to collaborate with other students; two United Kingdom students built a Facebook app to help families separated by natural disaster, such as the earthquake in Haiti, find each other online…

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Free tool lets students participate during class

Microsoft's free program allows for collaborative PowerPoint presentations.
Microsoft's free program allows for collaborative PowerPoint presentations.

Joining in the effort to keep students engaged in the classroom, Microsoft on April 30 announced a new addition to its PowerPoint software that allows students to participate in classroom presentations. The best news: It’s available free of charge.

The new tool, called Mouse Mischief, allows teachers to add multiple choice, yes/no, and drawing questions to their presentations. Students then use any computer mice (any device from the school will work) to answer these questions. The tool also allows for whole-class or individual student responses.

“We’ve observed classrooms around the world, and it’s a no-brainer that technology has the power to engage students—but not every classroom has the budget to afford new technology,” said Nasha Fitter, senior product manager for Microsoft in an interview with eSchool News.…Read More