Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speaks during a Microsoft cloud briefing event in San Francisco
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speaks during a Microsoft cloud briefing event in San FranciscoReuters

Redmond-based Microsoft Inc. continued its expansion into the educational sector with the acquisition of video discussion platform Flipgrid. The app, currently used by more than 20 million teachers and students around the world, represents Microsoft's biggest purchase aimed directly at the educational market.

The move was announced by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in a tweet on Monday.

"To bring the power of video-based social learning to everyone, we'll be making Flipgrid free for all educators and offering prorated refunds to everyone who has purchased a subscription from Flipgrid in the last year," said Eran Megiddo, Microsoft's Corporate Vice President for Education.

Megiddo assured users that the platform would continue to grow across all its partner's ecosystems while retaining its brand, culture and team. Flipgrid currently has partnerships with Google, Dropbox and Vimeo among other companies.

Founded in 2014, the platform was created with the aim to help educators recast the role of video in the classroom from a passive experience to a tool that empowers and amplifies every student's voice. Teachers can create groups and post a topic, and students can respond with short videos on their opinions.

For Microsoft, the acquisition is a key part of its move to appeal to classrooms globally. The company is facing stiff competition from both Apple and Google, who provide not only software but also hardware to classrooms as part of their educational solutions. Microsoft's hardware has increasingly fallen behind Apple's iPads and MacBooks and Google's PixelBooks. 

In order to make its software stand out, the company has been improving its Office 365 for education offering, with an overhauled web interface that makes it more modern and easier for collaboration.

The company recently acquired coding platform GitHub for $7.5 billion.

[With inputs from IANS]