I’ve always relished the opportunity to talk to students to get perspective on their needs of technology and the way in which they respond in classroom environments. Tuesday, I had the chance to meet with dozens of high school students at the Summer Search Career Discovery Days in New York. This was especially rewarding because I got the chance to talk to students about their careers and lead them in a discussion on career exploration.
If you haven’t heard about Summer Search, it is a leadership development program providing ongoing and long-term support for low-income high school students with some pretty outstanding results – 100% of Summer Search seniors graduate from high school; 97% go on to college; and 72% are involved with community service. (Photo on the right: courtesy of Summer Search.)
My talk focused on how to find a personal brand, and how students should connect their passions, values and interests with potential career options. As our workforce evolves and gets more specialized, many of the jobs students will be going into don’t even exist yet, so it’s increasingly important for students to reflect on how their individual skills and competencies align with their personal passions and values. Skills and interests like working with others, writing, applying creativity, problem solving, etc. In connecting with the kids, I was surprised that this was a conversation they haven’t had. This notion of finding a personal brand was a very new concept for them.
We really need to strive to do this with all students...have them start to connect their skills and their values in terms of what they want to accomplish in their lives and map those to career choices, as opposed to identifying a couple of iconic jobs then working backwards. We can have kids really take control of their careers by focusing on their skill sets and their interests. And I think this is very empowering, especially for these inner city kids who may not feel like they have all the opportunities that are afforded to students from other backgrounds. All the kids were from the Bronx where I am from, so it was personally rewarding to see them get excited about their career aspirations and potential. It made me think back to when I started at Microsoft very young, as a student, and the competencies and values I brought to the company…passion and a commitment to hard work. I presented to the kids our Education Competency Wheel. It’s a competency-based framework we use at Microsoft to hire new employees and develop professional skills. The wheel focuses on these broad sets of skills that are transferrable to any career. It’s a good resource for teachers to have this conversation around transferrable skills with their students and it will help them make an action plan to maximize students’ strengths. We train educators on how to use this at their institutions as part of our Microsoft Institute series and other events. The Education Competency Wheel can be shared with administrators, principals, teachers and students to have a common language around competency development. Currently, the tool is only available in English, but it can certainly be used globally. The competencies are being leveraged worldwide in countries like Finland where they are looking at it and asking, how can we take this work and apply it at a country level, as opposed to just a classroom or school level.
Check out the website for more on how to leverage this resource at your school…and let us know what you think.
I’m incredibly excited about new innovations coming from Microsoft…we have listened to feedback from students and teachers and are working to provide flexible and rich resources that are simple to use. The new Windows Live Movie Maker is a great example and includes a wide variety of features that make it easy for students and teachers to create, publish and share movies online, in a matter of few clicks.
The new version of Windows Live Movie Maker is a FREE download available today here. It’s now easier than ever for students and teachers to turn videos and photos into great-looking movies and slideshows, using many popular camera types and file formats on the market today. Windows Live Movie Maker provides a great way for schools to bring the benefits of multimedia to the classroom…making learning come alive and increasing student interest, participation and visual learning opportunities.
One of the key enhancements that teachers and students will LOVE is the ability to the share videos…across a wide variety of devices. To learn more about the new Movie Maker (for Windows Vista and Windows 7) and see real movies created with Movie Maker, please visit www.moviemakerpreview.com or check out the Windows Live team blog post.
Both K12 and higher education institutions are increasingly looking to virtualization as an opportunity to save money, to save the environment and to deliver more value to their constituents. We believe that Microsoft technology supported by Windows Server provides a tremendous option for schools thinking about virtualization across applications, desktops and servers. See my earlier blog post for more on the benefits for schools. And it’s only going to get better with new features that will be delivered in Windows Server 2008 R2 and Hyper-V and available to customers in the next month.
I am excited about our ongoing partnership with the University of Miami…their work on virtualization is really a showcase for schools who are having conversations and thinking about deploying virtualization solutions. I wanted to share this recent video on how the University of Miami is using an integrated Microsoft virtualization solution to drastically cut costs, improve server performance and management, and plan for more robust disaster recovery.
Dr. Lewis Temares, Vice President and CIO of Information Technology, and Walter Bechtel, Assistant Vice President, Academic and Research Systems, are two people I am most happy to work with as part of my day job. They get it. They are straight-shooters. They are pragmatic in their approach, but they want to continue to innovate on behalf of their institution.
Read their case study here and watch the video below to understand how they were able to withstand budget cuts, yet perform the same IT services with virtualization.