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Microsoft offers Home Work Help

Posted on Thursday, Jul 28th 2005

Okay, so it is encouraging that Microsoft has decided to “make some money off students”, because if they have, then some interesting and useful products and services, which are otherwise unfundable in the traditional venture capital model, will now get attention.

Here is an article from today’s WSJ:

In many American households, homework is a big problem. Teachers often load up students with far more of it than I recall from my own prehistoric school career. And parents, squeezed for time by dual careers and rusty because of rapidly changing curricula, find it is hard to help.

Also, today’s students often have so many after-school activities that even with the best work ethic, it is a struggle to get through hours of homework and still get enough sleep before the absurdly early start time at many high schools.

Taking note of this daily homework battle, Microsoft has decided to help — or at least to see whether it can make some money by addressing the problem. The software colossus has just introduced Microsoft Student 2006, designed to make it easier for middle-school and high-school students to attack homework efficiently by gathering homework resources in one place on the computer.

According to Walt Mossberg’s review, the software is poorly done, not user friendly, … blah blah blah …

That’s okay. Microsoft just needs to hire IDEO to clean the usability up, and do a few other attentive and creative things to enhance the product quality … For now, I am simply pleased to see the Microsoft thinks that this is a worthwhile segment to invest a tiny portion of its truckloads of sitting cash!

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Learning, Teaching, Understanding, knowledge, information, HOMEWORK. Are we confusing on the meaning of these words? What the students need is all the words except for HOMEWORK for our kids. Tools should help students to do a better job in all the words except for HOMEWORK. The maturity of software to handle the other words are very limited and only efficient for the great students who can handle their HOMEWORK or for the students who has help for UNDERSTANDING the HOMEWORK. I believe it is important to guide the students to undertand the concepts more than helping them in homework and that, till the software becomes mature, is only possible by us parents or external help. MS product can surely be used to explain the concepts BUT we still need a person who is knowledgable to explain them.

Santanu Bhattacharya Saturday, July 30, 2005 at 12:31 PM PT

I agree with you that a student needs a “Teacher” or a “Tutor” as opposed to some automated software that does homework for kids. However, from what I gather, Microsoft is attempting to put resources at the disposal of kids which help them in exploring, navigating, and perhaps understanding their homework exercises. They also want to put a “library” / “encyclopedia” service to facilitate the process of information gathering, potentially for essays, history, geography, etc.

There are other services like tutor.com that provides tutors who help students with the more non-lateral forms, teaching, explaining, answering questions, etc. In the Math and Science disciplines, this need is much stronger, whereas, for the humanities areas, having such a library function can be quite helpful.

Sramana Mitra Tuesday, August 2, 2005 at 7:43 PM PT