5 ways college students can use Copilot for Microsoft 365, starting next month

Copilot for Microsoft 365 will be available for students soon, and Microsoft is sharing tips on how they'll be able to use it.
Written by Sabrina Ortiz, Editor
Microsoft Copilot
Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

One of the biggest fears regarding generative AI is how it can negatively impact students' education by facilitating cheating. However, when used properly, generative AI can be a powerful tool that can promote learning, understanding, and retention of material -- and Microsoft is sharing some ways students can take advantage of these benefits. 

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On Wednesday, Microsoft held its worldwide digital event, Reimagine Education, which focused on the innovative ways schools are using technology. Much of the event concentrated on the hot trend of generative AI. Microsoft even took the opportunity to share that, starting April 1, it will make Copilot for Microsoft 365 available for purchase by higher education institutions as an addon for their students aged 18+.

To help prepare educators and students to make the best use of generative AI, Microsoft shared a Microsoft Education AI Toolkit, an AI in Education Report, and a selection of ways students can leverage AI within their Microsoft 365 workflows. You can find the roundup below.  

1. Don't miss a thing in Microsoft Teams

With Copilot in Microsoft Teams, students can get quick summaries of chats, remote classes, meetings, or calls they are part of. This capability makes it easier for students to stay up to date, revisit important information, and divert their attention to other more important tasks. They can also get assistance in composing replies, which can save students time and help them communicate their thoughts more effectively with peers and faculty.

Also: How ChatGPT (and other AI chatbots) can help you write an essay

2. Access writing assistance in Microsoft Word 

Even though Copilot in Microsoft Word can generate text from scratch, its value for students lies beyond that capability. Students can boost their comprehension of documents by highlighting the sections they do not understand. Then, Copilot can provide further insights about the section, generate a summary, or convert it to a visual element, such as a table. Copilot can also edit text more thoroughly than traditional spellchecks, editing for syntax, conciseness, and more. 

3. Never miss an email in Outlook

As a student, checking your inbox can suck up a lot of time that could be better allocated to other tasks, such as studying, doing assignments, or reviewing materials. That's where Copilot in Outlook can provide a boon, helping to summarize long email threads into short summaries. Copilot can also help students create and edit emails, so written messages take less time and are better communicated.

4. Create presentations from a prompt in Microsoft PowerPoint

Presentations can be daunting for students because speaking in front of people isn't everyone's cup of tea. Therefore, the best way students can prepare is by familiarizing themselves with the material and rehearsing what they plan on saying to their audience. However, time that could be used to practice is often spent creating a slide deck to include visually pleasing text and images. With Copilot in PowerPoint, creating a slide deck is easier than ever. Copilot can draft an entire presentation from a single prompt. It can also restructure your presentation into different sections for a better flow. 

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5. Interact with data with Copilot in Excel

Working with Microsoft Excel is a skill gained with time and lots of practice. Copilot in Excel helps close that skills gap by identifying insights, visualizing data, and answering questions. A student building an Excel spreadsheet can also access Copilot for help sorting, filtering, and creating data, which helps them spend less time formatting and more time understanding. 

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