Microsoft has announced that its AI-powered reading tutor, Microsoft Reading Progress, is now free for anyone with a Microsoft Account. This means that students, teachers, parents and anyone else who wants to improve their reading skills can access the tool from any device and get personalized feedback and guidance.
Microsoft Reading Progress is a web-based app that helps learners practice their reading fluency and comprehension. It uses speech recognition and natural language processing to analyze the learner’s reading performance and provide metrics such as accuracy, rate, expression and pronunciation. It also highlights the words that the learner misread, skipped or inserted, and gives suggestions on how to improve.
The app was originally designed for educators and students in grades K-8, but Microsoft says that it can be used by anyone who wants to enhance their reading abilities. The app supports 15 languages and dialects, and allows users to choose from a variety of texts or upload their own. Users can also adjust the difficulty level and the feedback mode according to their preferences and goals.
Microsoft Reading Progress is part of Microsoft’s broader effort to democratize education and empower learners of all ages and backgrounds. The company says that it hopes that by making the app free for everyone, it can help reduce the learning gaps caused by the pandemic and foster a culture of lifelong learning.
To use Microsoft Reading Progress, users need to sign in with a Microsoft Account, which they can create for free if they don’t have one already. They can then access the app from any browser on any device, such as a laptop, tablet or smartphone. Users can also integrate the app with Microsoft Teams if they want to collaborate with others or share their progress.
Microsoft Reading Progress is a powerful and innovative tool that can help anyone improve their reading skills and confidence. Whether you are a student who wants to ace your exams, a teacher who wants to support your students, a parent who wants to help your child, or just someone who loves reading, you can benefit from this app. You can start using it today by visiting https://aka.ms/readingprogress.
The Microsoft Africa Development Centre (ADC) and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), Department of Computing have reviewed the university’s Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science and Bachelor of Computer Technology curriculum to make them more relevant to industry demands.
The new curriculum will impact the delivery of 128 units within the university’s Computer science and Computer technology courses. The curriculum is expected to start with the September 2023 students intake.
The updated curriculum will assist in preparing students for the demands of a rapidly changing technology industry by emphasizing practical skill development and simulating real-world experience within the classroom. In addition to a refreshed approach to traditional technological concepts, the reviewed curriculum will introduce new and innovative concepts, including Applied Machine Learning, Virtual Reality, Quantum Computing, and User Experience Design, as well as industry-standard tools at the education level to improve student’s familiarity with them as they enter the workplace.
Catherine Muraga, the Managing Director at Microsoft ADC said that they are delighted to have partnered with Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) in the curriculum review process and have their experts contribute specialized knowledge that will allow for tech industry-ready students and use of improved standards of teaching. Globally employable Kenyans boost Kenya’s attractiveness as a destination for technology companies looking to invest here. The startup ecosystem, local businesses, and entrepreneurs working on transforming technology will also benefit.
The curriculum review process is part of the ADC’s larger goal of catalyzing digital transformation by providing opportunities for skill and practical knowledge acquisition to equip Kenyans to be competitive in the global digital landscape.
“The review process has been extensive, with invaluable insights and recommendations from experienced industry experts that will add significant value to classroom instruction. We look forward to providing our students with best-in-class education that integrates practical skills building and theoretical understanding as they prepare for success in the technology industry,” said Dr Lawrence Nderu, Chairman, Department of Computing at JKUAT.
Similar curriculum review initiatives will be implemented at other institutions of higher learning as part of efforts to bridge the ever-present gap between industry and academia, particularly in the technology sector.
“We believe that by partnering with educational institutions, from primary school to the university level, we can help create a future workforce equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in a digital age. We look forward to working with other institutions of higher learning to develop curricula that will improve the whole technology talent pipeline and grow the pool of tech talent in the country to benefit the whole ecosystem,” added Ms Muraga.
Acer is announcing the TravelMate B3 and TravelMate Spin B3 laptops for education that run Windows 11 SE or 11 Pro Education. The 11.6-inch laptops are able to survive the school day, with military-grade durability and 10-hour battery life. The laptops are to be available in the Middle East and Africa region in quarter 1 of 2022. The Acer TravelMate B3 (TMB311-32) will retail at EUR 359 whilst the TravelMate Spin B3 (TMB311R-32) at EUR 539. Acer says the devices are very customizable and is letting schools choose a model that suits their students’ unique needs.
The laptops are built to support the needs of K-12 schoolchildren featuring the latest Intel Pentium Silver and Celeron processors. They are MIL-STD 810H certified and feature shock-absorbent bumpers. This makes them tough enough to withstand up to 60 kg of downward force and drops from up to 4ft. A unique drainage design helps to protect internal components from moderate spills. A mechanically-anchored key design also provides a double benefit. One, administrators can easily replace the entire keyboard. Two, individual keys are well-secured so that they won’t be dislodged by restless fingers.
Acer TravelMate B3 and Acer TravelMate Spin B3
Durability aside, a number of thoughtful features help the laptops find their place within the classroom. Intel Wi-Fi 6 (Gig+) with 2×2 MU-MIMO technology helps with connectivity in multi-user environments. An optional 4G LTE provides students with a connection when away from a router. A webcam makes the laptops suitable for taking classes from home. While a 10-hour battery life means that they can make it through the full school day, too. The battery indicator on the device’s front cover also lets teachers tell a student’s device needs a recharge.
The Acer TravelMate Spin B3 comes equipped with Acer Antimicrobial Design. It features not only an Antimicrobial Corning Gorilla Glass touchscreen, but also an antimicrobial (silver-ion) coating on commonly-used high-touch surfaces (including the keyboard, touchpad, and palm-rest surface) to protect these surfaces.
Users can further opt to include a dockable Wacom AES pen and 5 MP HDR world-facing camera, allowing schools to customize their laptops in order to suit their students’ specific needs.
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Egypt’s Ministry of Education announces it has signed an agreement with Microsoft Egypt to provide a digital educational environment for students and teachers.
This is part of its efforts to ensure the safety of all educational system members. Whilst ensuring learning continues across the country as the world grapples with the coronavirus crisis.
Twenty million students and one million teachers are set to benefit from the unified platform.
The partnership will see the activation of an E-service for the entire Ministry of Education and Technical Education. It will also equip educators and students with solutions such as Microsoft Office 365.
Microsoft will implement the digital educational environment through its local partners Cairo Codes and BlueCloud.
Check out other stories making the news in the technology ecosystem in Africa and the Middle East.