It’s going to be an exciting year here at Microsoft as we are introducing a wave of new innovative software. This fall, we are helping institutions and IT professionals optimize PC environments, increase productivity and expand innovation in the classroom with Windows 7, consolidate servers with Windows Server 2008 R2 and unify communications with Exchange Server 2010.
By now you’ve probably seen “The New Efficiency” – it’s both the theme for the product launches and it is the powerful concept behind a new way of thinking about IT…cost savings, innovation and productivity can come together to deliver operational improvements while amplifying the impact of your people. For education, this new efficiency requires some reinvention in many ways. The expectations of schools and its constituents are growing. What schools really have to do is prioritize investments and shift the ways they use existing resources as opposed to just doing more with the same resources. Basically, schools need to make different bets on how they serve content, and how they invest more in education, etc. as opposed to just squeezing more out of the same exact investment and strategy. Be sure to check out our virtual launch events here and here.
Since Windows 7 was first released to schools with academic licensing agreements in August, many K12 and high education schools around the globe are in the process of deploying the next generation operating system and experiencing the benefits. Check out my earlier blog post here introducing Windows 7 to schools.
As part of its Digital Education Revolution initiative, the New South Wales Department of Education and Training is in the process of rolling out tens of thousands of netbooks to students and teachers to bring innovation to teaching and learning, and to equip students with the necessary tools they need to further their education and prepare them for the digital workforce. Check out their video below.
West Hatch High School, in Essex, England was the first school in Europe to fully deploy Windows 7. And here in the United States, San Diego Unified School District, Catherine Cook School in Chicago, Hoover City Schools in Alabama, Kentucky Community and Technical College System and many more are investing in Windows 7.
I’m excited to share their stories with you and more in the coming months. Please share how Windows 7 and the other new products are allowing you to transform the teaching and learning experience in your schools. If you haven't started exploring yet, you can download free trial software for Windows 7 here, Windows Server 2008 R2 here and Exchange Server 2010 here.
Hi. Thank you for posting this helpful overview of the context of Windows 7 in Education. As an addition, today I ran an event at Microsoft Reading when 20 colleagues from a variety of schools met to discuss their Windows 7 deployment. This was hugely succesful and the stories of 4 organisations: Twynham school; West Hatch School; Lodge Park Technology College; Warwickshire County Council, were shared during the day. These 4 presentations have been made available on my blog which can be found at www.sharepointineducation.com I hope these prove useful to educators wordlwide. As an aside I met you in a teacher discussion in London with my Headteacher. It was a pleasure to meet you and share our visions for education.
Please pardon some excess, but here is another more fundamental consideration for advancing school reform. It also calls for an online venture that might well be the first ever fully transparent reinvention of a major social institution.
Launch of The Galen Education Project – Tract 1
The Well-Intentioned ‘Race to the Top’ Leaves Only Teachers Behind
There are some great teachers, and even some great Teacher Preparation programs, but these are random occurrences where consistency is essential. The reason is simple: Professional Education is missing fundamental standards found in all other professions. There is no standard curriculum, no sincere effort to identify Best Instructional Practices, and truckloads of weak consultants and players with diluted degrees serving up their own brands of Faculty Development. Courses with the very same title and syllabus can be as different in principles and practices as is Lightening is from a Lightening Bug. To be called a profession it is imperative that a profession, one way or another, needs to convene an ongoing forum to collect and prioritize the core content of principles and practices that every member ought to know. Ironically, Teachers worldwide are being held to standards for annual yearly progress of their students. Meanwhile, Professors, Learned Societies & commercial schools, and some painfully self-serving non-profit foundations and Universities never even address the need for solid pedagogic content. Worse, those that do publish material under titles referencing Best Practices are quite simply hype, if not fraudulent. With few exceptions the current crop of in-charge “Leaders” - who once were mere administrators - dangerously resembles the Investment Bankers who remain in charge of the economic systems that they nearly bankrupted. It will take unprecedented courage & action to take command of our own narrative and reduce Education’s vulnerability. Perhaps the only way to expose and reform this systemic disaster would be a class action by teachers &/or parents & students against all of we academic and school-based decision makers who have been complicit in these myriad layers of self-interest actions bordering on malpractice.
Since the likelihood of legal action is a remote it would be wonderfully unprecedented for a leveraged agency, such as the US Department of Education or a sate department of Education to hold a virtual convention of the nation’s leading educators to consider and ideally endorse a covenant of principles and more importantly prescriptive practices. Ideally this would occur on an open-access website that transparently allows these to be challenged, tweaked, further specified for different age-grade-linguistic & situational conditions, &/or replaced by more specialized instructional methods- of which there are many – that are diagnostically matched to students’ special needs. Additionally, such a rolling convention also could address differentiated staffing based on what schools are expected to do, and with a differentiated set of Best Practices for each function as exist between doctors and nurses, attorneys and paralegals, etc. It is important to underscore the fact that the ongoing nature of this transparent system virtually guarantees that while the new instructional curriculum may be dominated by some mythologies; it also would be enriched by an extensive list of specialized methods identified for special needs and circumstances. There are some very unusual, even exotic methods that may have been over-sold and/or have not faired well in comparative studies of mean outcomes but that “work” almost magically when used in targeted situations. In other words, for the first time, there would for be a sensible and somewhat hierarchical difference between the methods taught in undergraduate and graduate courses. This is no small matter since currently any teaching method can be randomly selected or deselected anywhere hence leaving some very sound teaching methods un-presented, irrespective of degree status and level of “Staff Development.” The hundreds of millions of dollars spent and to be spent on Faculty Development for the most part has been an un-orderly, non-sequential, trend dictated, hit & miss disaster, and with near zero specifications as to the different levels in the preparation of the faculty and varied obligations of schools.
Schools are expected to carry-on three essential although overlapping functions: 1. Teach new concepts, content and a positive disposition toward self-directed on-going learning; 2. Provide assessment and targeted supervised practice in these objectives; and, 3. Operate a massive custodial role that keeps students in school for at least seven-nine hours a day for about 200 days a year for about 13 years, and now through at least 2 more years of college. Our labor market and economic system depend on schools to meet these criteria. The problem is not the expectations, but that staffing, resources and organization do not reflect these societal expectations. And, sadly there is no coordinating free market in which to gain access to the best pedagogical ideas and practices. But, this is another complex issue requiring several additional paragraphs that have now become all wrapped up, if not convoluted by vouchers and charter schools.
Meanwhile, please consider joining the websites below offering a potential startup means of getting the current system moving in the right direction. As an aside, taxpayers would be grateful since increasing classroom effectiveness and adding differentiated staffing could bring about efficiencies that could save billions of dollars with even the smallest degree of adoption. With your support we hope to formally organize ourselves around the title: The Galen Project in honor of Claudius Galen (131-201) a great teacher-practitioner, compiler and systematizer of Greco-Roman medicine, physiology, pharmacy and anatomy. Please join the narrative at: teacherprofessoraccountability.ning.com/.../new …bestmethodsofinstruction.com and Professional Teacher website anthony-manzo.blogspot.com
Anthony V. Manzo, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus,
University of Missouri-KC, (ret.) CSU-Fullerton