As someone who grew up in the Bronx, I am very excited about our first customer win as a result of our partnership with ePals. New York City Schools has chosen ePals SchoolMail service to bring an email learning solution to about two million students and parents…and Live@edu will be used on the backend to help create the secure, reliable and scalable collaborative learning environment. This move to the cloud will save the district an estimated $5 million annually on infrastructure and maintenance costs.
According to Gartner, in three years, over 50% of student email services will be hosted by a provider. So, with budget deficits at crisis levels around the U.S. and the world, and teachers being laid off…more and more schools are embracing the cloud with Live@edu, and now our combined solution with ePals, to meet the needs of teachers and students to provide new experiences and drive education transformation. It’s a rare opportunity to add tremendous new functionality, reduce costs and deliver more services to more people to help bridge the digital divide all at the same time.
Built on the enterprise class platform of Exchange 2010, ePals will be using Microsoft Exchange Web Services and Outlook Live to build the email system and new calendar application that will connect to New York’s on-premise system for teachers. It will enable better communication and collaboration among teachers, parents and students so families can be more involved in their child’s education and success. Together, ePals SchoolMail and Live@edu create an extensible platform that delivers the control, security and other powerful features that are essential to K-12 schools. The Exchange Web Services API, Exchange Transport Rules and other security aspects allow ePals to write robust customized policies for schools to meet their requirements of safety and productivity for teachers, students and their data.
From an IT perspective, Live@edu will enable cross mailbox search and dynamic distribution groups. The joint solution will allow schools to set up sophisticated policy-based controls that regulate which students, parents and teachers can email and share information with each other for security purposes, and what level of filtering, moderation or monitoring is desired for specific roles, grade level, or other school groups. Rules can also be applied for instructional value to email use, for example by facilitating peer-based editing, feedback, as well as to better communicate with parents and to involve them in the educational process with their children.
When I went to school, there were no computers in New York City schools. The capabilities for students to connect with a world of learning materials and resources provided by ePals giving students a global connection…and then the ability to share thoughts and dialogue is a tremendous opportunity for students to look beyond the boundaries of their city and look beyond the expectations they might have had for their futures to drive a more exciting future for themselves. Most kids growing up in New York sometimes don’t even understand there is an entire world outside of New York because it is so large. When I lived in the Bronx, I had never even gone to Brooklyn, Queens, or Staten Island until a few years ago…you tend to stay in your borough. These technologies can help kids gain a broader perspective on the world and help them expand their potential for the future.
I was a kid that used technology as an outlet and I credit technology with helping me envision a future. I am excited to be connected to this solution in New York City. Having worked with the school district over the past ten years, plus growing up there and the fact that my brother teaches at the largest public high school in the Bronx…I know these communities need support and inspiration and this will be a huge impact.
I’m in Poland this week to host the 2010 Education Leaders Forum (ELF) here in Warsaw. It’s an event that for the fourth year brings together education leaders from around the globe to exchange experiences and discuss the future of post-secondary education, its role as economic driver and strategies for overcoming barriers to implementation. As I reflect back on the last couple of days of meetings, we’ve had some great discussions about education policy examples and ideas that can make significant impact on citizens, their home towns and their countries.
We’re getting to see this year’s ELF theme, ‘Engaging Student Creativity and Innovation: A Key to Global Success’, in action through interactive panel discussions, and keynote presentations that demonstrate how governments and education systems can work together to deliver an engaging, relevant and authentic education experiences.
There are three keys we’ve been talking about to reach these goals: Access, Employability & Innovation. We’re seeing amazing examples of innovation at the Imagine Cup finals… having the Education Leaders Forum at the same time as the Worldwide finals for the Imagine Cup is not a coincidence. We link these two events together because both focus on the importance of technology as key to global success…whether it is obtaining your first PC or access to cloud technologies… which leads to employability, economic stability and national competitiveness.
In today’s information age, there is little question that information communication technology (ICT) can help drive opportunity and provide a competitive edge in the world economy. World Bank data shows that worldwide, companies that use ICT have over 5% higher profitability than enterprises that do not use ICT. For every 10-percentage-point increase in the penetration of broadband services, there is an increase in economic growth of 1.3 percentage points. But this very data that can give hope also creates the digital divide. The bridge across that divide is access.
Microsoft is committed to making the world where we live and work a better place. By listening to the needs of governments and their citizens, we’re able to channel the passion of our people and the power of technology to the challenges facing the world today. Microsoft’s Shape the Future initiative is a program that helps governments reach ambitious goals by combining Microsoft products and services, years of citizenship, government and education expertise along with broad public private partnership experience. This program has provided more than 1 million European students access to new PCs in the last 12 months alone.
Over the last several years as Shape the Future has helped governments develop these partnerships, we have learned they should be designed beyond an individual school or an isolated classroom. Ideally, you should not put the entire burden on a local school, a district or a region, to fund, maintain support, and do so in the context of existing budget, or a one-time appropriation that funds the project, but then could go away. When this occurs, typically, PCs end up sitting in a closet unopened because no one knows how to use them…or the PCs may break and not be replaced because no one knows how to repair them and the school has run out of funding to buy more. The best projects are those that are foundational…like the one developed recently in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia where they are creating a sustainable program.
Dimitri Shashkini, Georgia’s Minister of Education and Science, said it well as the partnership came together last month:
“Providing every child with a PC to raise their learning opportunities is one of the top priorities of the President and the Government of Georgia. We are clear in our belief that education is the foundation of our nation’s continued growth and prosperity. By ensuring that all Georgian children can have access to the information society, we are preparing our students and our country to succeed in the global marketplace. This agreement with Microsoft represents the next step in our commitment to progress towards full digital inclusion for all our citizens.”
At Microsoft, we believe we have a responsibility to use our position as a technology leader to help work with governments, to help drive other vendors to really commit to solve this issue, and to help more and more countries get down the road to economic competitiveness.
These are extremely challenging times for higher education institutions that are struggling with the balance between efficiency and cost cutting, and maintaining and improving their overall effectiveness. While $2.4 trillion is spent on education every year worldwide, effectiveness of spend can be as low as 7% according to the World Bank.
How do you assess your institution’s performance? How do you know you are successfully executing your mission and vision? Your strategic goals? Technology can track the data and help. Microsoft’s Platform for Institutional Effectiveness has been developed from an increasing understanding that greater effectiveness and efficiency is derived from a focus on bringing together people, processes, and information across the institution…not from the isolated use of individual technology products.
We have architected a unified platform approach integrating quantitative analytics, qualitative assessment and collaborative action to help institutions measure progress against their goals for administrative operations, academic outcomes and achievement, and the student and faculty experience. This approach is built on Microsoft technology most institutions already own…like SharePoint Server and SQL Server… and user interfaces that are common across the institution and applications from Microsoft partners. You can read more in our whitepaper here.
Nuventive, has an application called TracDat which drives the development of strategic plans and tracks progress against the plan. Nuventive has recently struck up a partnership with Mariner to bring this type of solution to K-12 schools. Both partners won awards at our Worldwide Partner Conference this year.
Earlier at one of our education partner summits, I spoke with David Raney, CEO, Nuventive, about trends in data optimization for institutions and how data can make campuses better. You can watch our discussion below.