Education Insights

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

October, 2009

  • Education Insights

    Education transformation in Bangladesh


    I had the pleasure of meeting recently with the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, around exploring options to invest in Bangladesh. Bangladesh is an emerging country with a very young labor force…and like many countries around the world, looking to explore opportunities for emerging technologies and how technology’s role can drive impact in education as part of their Digital Bangladesh initiative. It’s exciting to see hope for a nation that’s growing with an economy that’s being built on driving innovation and new industries and rooted in the foundation of education transformation.

    There are more than a 150 million people in Bangladesh, the 7th largest population, which I was surprised by. The average age of the labor force is 23-years old, which is one of the youngest workforces in the world. They are well positioned with regards to economic expansion as noted by its listing as one of the “Next Eleven” potential largest economies of the 21st century.

    Bangladesh has a female Prime Minister and a progressive government which has wide support, and they’ve been very good about working with the U.S. and building relationships with companies and the administration. With the Digital Bangladesh initiative, the Prime Minister is working to improve core infrastructure in the country like roads and transportation, but also recognizes the value in education. Like a lot of countries, they’re exploring individual technology devices for each student, looking for opportunities to train people in new skills, and extend digital content. There are some interesting write-ups here and here on how the country is trying to meet the challenge.

    I am inspired to explore future partnerships with Bangladesh and help in their efforts to modernize and transform education, and help students in the country realize their potential.

  • Education Insights

    Data analytics -- more than a buzzword


    Schools, districts and states have been collecting data for decades…but, the art of perfecting the management and analytics of data seems to be hitting a crescendo this year. I think this is largely in part due to the fact that emerging technologies are making it more affordable…and of course, the Department of Education has highlighted the need to “build data systems to track student achievement and teacher effectiveness” as one of its four key school reforms under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), and even requiring evidence of successful and innovative data systems to be in place in order to qualify for incentives and grants.

    I recently sat down to talk to David Fitzgerald, the Education Practice Manager over at Mariner, about how data is transforming schools and how we’ve got to help them get past using data solely as a reporting function and really use it as a way to drive innovation. Mariner has built a solution for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools on the Microsoft Education Analytics platform that’s helping the district drive academic and operational success. You can read the case study here. In the coming months, you can hear from the school leaders directly about how their digital data dashboard initiative is progressing, the successes and lessons learned by signing up for their web series here.

    Here’s my conversation with David…

    Anthony Salcito discusses using data to transform learning with David Fitzgerald

  • Education Insights

    Illinois Software Donation Helps Students Gain Career Skills


    Some level of technology skills is required in almost every profession and job these days. A recent IDC report commissioned by Microsoft showed that global spending on IT will create 5.8 million new jobs by 2013…so what are we doing to make sure our students are prepared?

    Today, we announced the donation of more than $4 million worth of Microsoft software to high schools in the State of Illinois to help students build technology skills and prepare for the workforce or college. To spur creativity, we are partnering with the Illinois State Board of Education to encourage kids to compete in a Web design contest called “bliink” to create a Web site that drives them to engage in their communities to protect the local environment.

    Illinois, like many other states and countries, has recognized the value in investing in education to connect learning to workforce needs that will drive innovation, new industries and optimism for economic recovery. This challenge is part of Illinois’ Innovation Talent education program, a pilot project designed to connect schools with industry, government and community partners.  They are pushing students to develop their analytical abilities by working on interdisciplinary teams to solve real-world problems using leading-edge information technology tools.

    The software donation is made possible through our Microsoft Developer Network Academic Alliance (MSDNAA) program. With a complimentary subscription to MSDNAA, accredited high schools get licenses to use Expression Web and Visual Studio 2008 software. High school teachers and administrators can request a free subscription by emailing us: We also offer free tutorials and curriculum units that have been designed by teachers and tested by students in more than 350 high schools. The lessons have been mapped to national standards and include project-based learning experiences for students and assessment tools for teachers. 

    In the past 16 months, more than 1 million U.S. high school students have benefitted from Microsoft’s MSDNAA donations. You can see some of the students’ outstanding work here. We are really encouraged by the great feedback we are hearing about this program -- ”more students are talking about working in engineering or technology after high school”…”the software really got me interested in technology, and interested in taking a more difficult technical course.” And that’s really the goal here…providing kids the foundation, the tools they need to imagine a new future, to connect to real opportunities in the workplace and to realize the power of technology.

  • Education Insights

    What the IT Department will love about Windows 7


    No doubt you have seen the hype today surrounding the worldwide Windows 7 launch and availability to consumers. I’ve enjoyed reading the reviews from the tech pundits and our customers. Beyond the whiz-bang features that will get your students and faculty excited about using their computers for day-to-day tasks like Snap, Shake and Windows Touch…there are three new features I think are most relevant for the IT side of the house that will help make everyone more productive…BranchCache, BitLocker To Go, and Windows XP Mode. I introduced some of these features in an earlier blog post.

    Today, I’ll focus on BranchCache because I think this is a huge feature that could have big impact. So imagine this scenario – when you download a video to your laptop from YouTube or a document from the district office -- in a traditional environment in a school, you download the file, I download the file, everyone downloads it. You are making a server request to YouTube or the district’s intranet site, and it may take 20 minutes or 10 seconds to download the video or file depending on what your bandwidth is.

    The way Windows 7 works is if we are on the same network inside a school, you download the video, it is cached on your machine…then when the next person goes to download the same file, it opens up instantly because it’s been cached on your machine already. For a BranchCache overview, videos, demos and deployment information, check out this site.

    With Windows 7, we have worked hard to improve the operating system’s security, reliability and performance while improving PC management and introducing compelling new experiences for the classroom and making it easier to connect with all the devices people use today. For a complete product overview, go here, check out our monthly education newsletter here, and read my blog post here that includes a customer case study.

    Be sure to sign up for our own virtual launch event dedicated to education where you can learn more about the Windows 7 benefits for schools and hear from K12 and university IT professionals that are deploying Windows 7.

  • Education Insights

    Using data to inform instruction


    I am catching up on sharing some video interviews with you from a recent partner event. Today’s conversation is with Alvin Crawford from Schoolnet.

    Schoolnet solutions take a platform approach using Microsoft technologies, primarily SharePoint Server, to build an end-to-end experience for all different user types and schools. They understand that parents, teachers, administrators and students have different needs in terms of the types of information they need to see, as well as access rights, and they create an experience that is seamless. They’ve also given a lot of thought behind the design and learned a lot from social networking and community sites so the environment is much friendlier to the audience type…if a teacher is accessing a data dashboard, they see tools and resources that are for a teacher.  Schoolnet also does a good job connecting data and content together to offer students collaboration opportunities.

    Alvin and I had a good conversation about trends in education…in particular how to use data dashboards to drive action and improve and inform instruction.

    Let me know what you think...

    Anthony Salcito discusses education trends with Alvin Crawford, Schoolnet
  • Education Insights

    Celebrate World Teachers' Day


    Help celebrate World Teachers’ Day…there is still time left in the day to express your appreciation or admiration and give thanks to a teacher. UNESCO designated October 5th annually as World Teachers' Day to mark the anniversary of the 1966 signing of the UNESCO/ILO Recommendation Concerning the Status of Teachers which addresses teacher policies, rights and responsibilities.

    Whether you are a student, a parent, an administrator or a community member, you probably have reason to be grateful for a teacher that has impacted your life. When I think about the biggest influences in my life, teachers are the first to come to mind. Teachers inspire us to become life-long learners and challenge us to solve tough problems. They provide us with guidance when we need help and enable us to achieve our goals.

    There are 59 million teachers providing instruction to 1.4 billion students around the world. Here at Microsoft, we work hard to listen to the needs and understand the challenges educators and schools face, and hope that we can provide technology, training and support to best assist you in shaping the future of our society. Technology is becoming an increasingly central tool to help educators create exciting class projects, personalize learning scenarios, and share best practices and lesson plans with peers around the world. That is why we work diligently every day to create solutions to empower teachers and faculty to reach their students in effective and engaging ways.
    We are committed to helping advance the teaching profession in the 21st century. Let us know what we can do to make you successful…and in the meantime, thank you!

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