Education Insights

Education news, trends, and highlights by Anthony Salcito, Vice President, Worldwide Education, Microsoft

April, 2009

  • Education Insights

    Everyone Can Be an Astronaut With WorldWide Telescope


    I’m not afraid to admit that I get truly excited about technology of all shapes and sizes.  The joy comes from experiencing cool design, life-changing functionality, and pure fun…but perhaps the most meaningful and powerful reactions are to technologies that fundamentally open up our world and connect people to information and other people like never before.  Microsoft’s WorldWide Telescope (WWT) is an excellent example of the type of tool I get incredibly passionate about, and it’s something I routinely visit for inspiration.   For those unfamiliar, I urge you to stop reading and download the tool right now…

    Image of Jupiter

     The WorldWide Telescope is a Web 2.0 visualization software environment that enables your computer to function as a virtual telescope.  It brings together imagery from the best ground- and space-based telescopes in the world for seamless exploration of the universe.  Whether you download the application (providing online and offline access) or just use the web client, the WWT provides a wealth of options and resources designed to inform, illustrate and inspire. 

     The WorldWide Telescope is supported by a breadth of satellite imagery, contributions from globally respected astronomers and even guided tours created by seven-year-old explorers.  Through a recent partnership between Microsoft and NASA, planetary images and data...including high-resolution scientific images and data from Mars and the moon...will be explorable on the WorldWide Telescope. 

    Whether you use the tool in a lesson plan, leverage the guided tour capability for visual presentations or just explore the universe, I’m confident you’ll be rewarded and impacted by the journey. 

    Microsoft Research feature story:

    Webcast (Teacher Tech Tuesday) -- presented by the creator/inventor, Curtis Wong:

    Free posters for your classroom:

    Worldwide Telescope Academic Development Kit:

  • Education Insights

    Imagine Cup 2009 - Last Chance To Vote for People's Choice


    Looking for a sign of hope that our country/world will overcome our current financial challenges, and do so with ingenuity and innovation?   Don’t worry…the Lucky Tomatoes, Mango Bunnies, and others are here to help.  Take a moment to view some or all of the 15 videos submitted by our U.S. Imagine Cup finalists. 

    As part of this year’s Imagine Cup competition, students were asked to address how can technology help address some of the world’s toughest challenges paralleling the United Nations Millennium Development goals.  The Imagine Cup is one of the largest student competitions in the world…thousands of students, representing 125 U.S. schools participated in this year’s event…culminating in 15 US finalists that will be competing for an opportunity to represent the United States in the Imagine Cup 2009 Worldwide Finals in Cairo, Egypt from July 3rd to 9th. 

    The online voting for our finalists ends in just two days...on Thursday, April 30...and then our 15 finalists will meet in Cambridge, MA this weekend and next week to face off.  Visit to view videos, read more about the U.S. student teams and their innovations, and vote for your favorite. 

    The Imagine Cup is one of the things that makes me most proud to be part of Microsoft, and I’m excited to personally meet our group of finalists and root them on as they compete on the global stage.

  • Education Insights

    Identity Is Key


    Sorry about the geekiness of the joke in the title of this blog post…but it’s truly the case that a school's journey to deliver personalized and adaptive learning to students starts with building a strong and integrated foundation on identity.  As students bounce between schools, subjects, and modalities…the need to keep experiences, grades, content, collaboration seamless…and INFORMED is driven by federated identity working to connect it all.  Identity can be the bridge between on-premise and cloud systems…the catalyst to drive predictive content based on education analytics…and the gatekeeper to help keep our children safe. Solutions like Live@edu may be known for providing safe and robust email and collaboration capabilities…but the richness of the solution set starts with the ability to provide and federate identity to students, faculty and parents.

    Microsoft is working to make experiences more connected and safe via our End to End Trust vision.  Our progress was highlighted at the RSA Conference this week in San Francisco by Scott Charney, corporate vice president of our Trustworthy Computing Group.  One of the exciting areas he discussed was how people can now use technology innovations to share information about themselves while disclosing only as much of their identity as they choose.

    A beta technology, currently code-named Microsoft “Geneva,” helps to simplify this process in an open and interoperable claims-based model. By combining this new, open and interoperable identity metasystem, people can be granted access to resources while minimizing the risk of providing information that may be compromised or misused online.  During the RSA keynote he delivered, Scott also demonstrated how this technology can work when combined with in-person proofing through a limited proof of concept with the Lake Washington School District, in Redmond, Wash. Like many school districts, Lake Washington is challenged with how to provide secure and private online access to staff, students and parents. Microsoft is working with the school district to deploy the “Geneva” claims-based identity platform, including Information Cards on small notebook PCs, across its IT infrastructure. Using this model, the district will equip students with these small notebook PCs so they can more securely access learning materials developed by the district and application providers from virtually anywhere.

    As our students and schools embrace online collaboration and cloud services as important tools for learning and tracking progress, the need to keep the environment secure and protect against identity corruption is critical.

  • Education Insights

    Blogging in Rapid City


    Cool program in Rapid City Area Schools in South Dakota designed to help get students excited about reading and sharing their reaction in blogs.  Here’s a news piece which aired on a local TV station about the project.

    Rapid City Area Schools is encouraging teachers and students to blog using our their SharePoint site…the news piece tells a story of 5th grade class doing just that.  Congratulations to Rick Bates, Director of Information Technology at Rapid City Schools, and the entire leadership team for recognition of their work.  For more info on Rapid City Area Schools visit: 

  • Education Insights

    Building Better Learning Environments with Green Schools


    In honor of Earth Day, I thought I would share with you some ideas on how to “go green.” Some of you are thinking about using stimulus dollars for school modernization, renovations and repairs. You probably want to lower your maintenance and operating costs, especially in this tough economy. You want to be a good citizen and reduce your carbon footprint. Whatever your reason, “going green” can also improve student test scores, better teacher performance, reduce sick days, and provide a valuable and interesting new teaching tool.

    The School of the Future in Philadelphia is a great case study for what is possible when you design and build a green school. We’ve just posted a paper – “Building Better Learning Environments with Green Building Design” – on our website where you can read more about how the school is environmentally-friendly, results gained, and tips for what you can do today to make your school more earth-friendly.

    The School of the Future is a unique partnership between the School District of Philadelphia and Microsoft to create a sustainable and replicable model for improved instruction and systemic reform through the use of organizational best practices and innovations in curriculum, architecture, environmental and technology design. We are proud the school was one of the first to receive an official LEED Gold Certification award from the U.S. Green Building Council. Photovoltaic panels in the glass windows (see below) and roof are just one green design element. They reduce heating and cooling costs by converting sunlight into direct current, contributing a percentage of electricity for the building. The panels also serve as built-in curriculum as they transmit real-time data for students to see how much energy is being generated and the positive impact it has on the environment.

     Of course, being a software company…we believe technology can also play a role in reducing energy consumption and operating costs, while helping the environmental footprint of our customers and help save them money too. See my earlier post on virtualization.

     Here are some other good Microsoft green resources…


    Microsoft and the Environment:
    Software Enabled Earth Blog:
    Microsoft's Environmental Sustainability Strategy: overview
    Top 10 Business Practices on Environmentally Sustainable Data Center: white paper

    What is your school or institution doing to “go green”? What benefits do you see?

  • Education Insights

    Check out the new Microsoft Innovative Teachers Network


    During my travels, I’m often asked for ideas of great places online for teachers to share best practices, learn from peers and get help.  There are many wonderful resources on the web for sure, and we’ve worked hard to make the Microsoft Innovative Teachers Network (ITN) a destination place for sharing lesson plans, ideas and inspiration.  It’s a place where teachers can give others a peek into their classroom, seek advice on challenges their facing and show off a great new project. 

    The US ITN network is part of a worldwide effort to connect teachers and uncover best-of-breed teaching, technology and content best practices.  ITN features three types of professional learning resources: Articles of Interest, Guides and Materials, and Research Papers.  There are Communities where educators can discuss similar topics of interest, create virtual project teams, participate in the peer review of content, and much more. Additionally, one of the coolest new resources is the Virtual Classroom Tours, which allow you to experience and replicate the classroom successes of other teachers.

    If you’re already a part of the network…check out the new changes and share feedback.  If you’re not familiar with ITN…now’s a great time to join as the version of the network just went live (

  • Education Insights

    Microsoft at NECC 2009


    When you travel as much as I do, it is sometimes helpful to have tent-pole events to mark the year and help you look back on progress made and goals for next year.  For most people, holidays and birthdays fit the bill.  For me (and it’s somewhat pathetic, I know), I mark my year with Microsoft’s fiscal year calendar and our large education industry events (like Educause in the Fall and NECC in the Summer).  I am already getting excited to spend a few days at the National Education Computing Conference (NECC) happening in Washington, D.C. coming up this June. Microsoft will have a big presence at the show…but I get tremendous value from connecting with our partners and customers and getting a range of input on K12 priorities and new thinking.

    I’m really pleased with how planning for Microsoft’s participation at this year’s show is coming along…and you get great insight on our focus, the content we’ll be sharing in our booth, etc. by visiting our website here. The web page includes listings for Microsoft learning tracks and workshops, links for connecting with us via Facebook and Twitter, and much more. 

    In recognition of reduction travel budgets that are limiting the opportunity to attend NECC for many…this year, we’re offering scholarships for five K-12 teachers to attend. Find more details here.

    If you are able to make it to NECC…stop by booth #1728 to say hello.  Look forward to seeing you there!

Page 1 of 1 (7 items)