I have had a great time connecting with our education partners the last two weeks. Last week, we had an opportunity to talk about students and technology with a lot of our OEM partners from around the world. This week, at the Microsoft campus in Redmond, we hosted close to 200 education partners from 45 countries for our sixth annual GEPS...or the Global Education Partner Summit.
This is an opportunity for us to connect with partners who are supporting education, to not only identify ways in which we can collaborate together, but really understand the issues and trends, and how we can best support the needs of education institutions around the world. And it's interesting, because a lot of these partners are working with schools and universities in countries all over the world, and have real insight in terms of the on-the-ground transition and transformation with technology...and I think we can see some interesting trends that are true across the industry.
One of my key takeaways from conversations with partners here...its seems like the next phase of technology evolution is happening. Schools are onboard with either data analytics and using some sort of business intelligence to inform learning opportunities and improve school outcomes, but they're actually looking for a higher level connection, as opposed to just aggregating data, actually using it to drive decisions and outcomes.
Digital content, it's less about acquiring digital content, it's more about how it becomes effective. So, publishers are sharing ideas and thoughts around not only how they can get content digitally, but actually how to make that content to come more alive, to enable personalized learning experiences with students, and outcomes.
We're seeing partners who work with governments around access start to think not only about just getting access to a device to a school and supporting our Shape The Future initiative, which helps make technology possible for students and a new population of students around the world. And partners are not only working through how to get that technology into the hands of kids, but actually really drive outcomes and make sure that teachers are prepared and trained, that schools have the back-end technology to support learning, both with regards to things like security and identity, but also thinking about how they can enable experiences with the cloud, etc.
On the cloud, there's been a lot of enthusiasm for Microsoft's Live@edu solution set, and what partners can do to enable Live@edu to really come alive with schools. One of the things that was mentioned by partners is that we need to think about helping reinform our education institutions about the potential of the cloud, and the way in which they think holistically about the integration of services, support, content with cloud-based services extending that to scale. What we've been really focused on with Live@edu and certainly for Office 365 for education down the road...is thinking about how partners can extend and really provide those solution sets in real ways with customers.
I love to see the enthusiasm from our partners around the potential technology has, and the increased meaning of technology and its impact to students and educators, and thei impact that is having on conversations. What this means is...we're shifting away from discussions on why to invest in technology, or how do we fundamentally do it, to what's the impact. Getting to this next level of conversation I think will not only improve education outcomes and the value proposition for technology investments, but it's going to enable a richer set of solutions and leverage the talents of a lot of our partners to really drive effective change across the world...so I'm really excited about that.
One of the things we highlighted at GEPS is the progress we are making with getting applications on Windows Phone 7, and a lot of our partners are going to be helping us drive that next generation of change. We had a student from Gonzaga University, one of our Microsoft Student Partners, come on stage and highlight an application that was built by a team of students participating in last year's Imagine Cup. It is an application to help with malaria research using the Windows Phone 7 platform. By giving students powerful toolsets like Microsoft DreamSpark with access to software like XNA, Visual Studio, Silverlight and more, they will help us create a new distribution platform with the phone. We're going to see lots of Windows Phone 7 applications from students in the Imagine Cup this year and I hope to see some great examples in the regional finals and at the worldwide competition happening in New York City this July.
I'm excited about the potential of the phone, how students are using it, and how it will open up opportunities for schools...but it's really just about the embrace of mobility. It's not just about Windows Phone 7, it's about how they integrate with other devices. We've shown progress with the iPhone application for OneNote. It's how we think about the increased proliferation of devices, both laptops and slate devices, and how schools bring that into a language of broader change and evolution. This is what is really exciting for Microsoft, and a lot of the partners.
Keep in touch on my blog and let me know topics you'd like to learn more about. You can also join our Microsoft Education Partner Network here, and track details of our upcoming Worldwide Partner Conference happening this July in Los Angeles here.
As technology has advanced in our lives…and increasingly the way in which we communicate, collaborate, consume information and content…I think the pace at which technology has evolved has probably outpaced some of the fundamentals that we've trained our kids on how to be safe in the world around us.
Because many parents did not grow up with technology, the things that we've long taught our kids around just basic human safety hasn't included the recognition or awareness of all the potential of technology to provide both good and harm for kids. So, we've got to continue to alert folks to the value of identity protection and online privacy, and certainly help prepare teachers, family members and parents understand what this new world of opportunity brings, but also the potential threats it could have.
At Microsoft, we believe it’s our responsibility to help make the Internet a safer place for people, including children, to learn and communicate. Since we are often the ones driving a lot of this technology change, we have a direct connection to understand how these tools are used and how they should be effectively used. With today being international Safer Internet Day, the company is expanding its involvement and taking part in events across Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the United States and partnering with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America to engage with families about online safety.
Microsoft has recognized the importance of things like identity, and the integration of identity across a number of platforms and experiences. It starts with parental controls in Xbox…everything from not only providing parents the opportunity to monitor and control what games their kids are playing…but also to limit how many hours a day or a week a student is playing a game. That kind of control provides parents the power to make changes, but sometimes parents need support to understand those feature sets exist or how to take action.
I also think we need to teach students fundamental appreciation of the value of identity protection and privacy. In a world where this generation of students has become much more transparent…they share their likes and dislikes, who they are, etc…we need to sensitize them to the dangers and making sure that they can do that in the safest way as possible so not only their physical safety, but also their identity is kept sacred.
Microsoft has been committed to doing this for a very long time, both with regards to core ICT digital literacy training, but making parents more and more aware of the opportunities, and how to monitor their child's safety. We've also made efforts to embed this technology to make it easier discover and more powerful and flexible to use in products like Xbox, Windows 7 and Internet Explorer.
Please check out our security, privacy and online safety awareness and education resources here -- http://www.microsoft.com/security/resources/brochures.aspx You will find fact sheets and guidance on many computing and Internet safety issues facing consumers today, including cyberbullying, tips for Internet safety at home and at work…and even an online safety toolkit for businesses, NGOs, non-profits and schools.
By 2035, today’s preschoolers and kindergarteners will be entering the workforce. The students of today are laying the core building blocks for the workforce of 2035. That is why I applaud the focus from President Obama’s State of the Union address last week focused on innovation, education and students.
This triad is a critical and core focus for Microsoft, our partners and our customers. As President Obama explained, “In a single generation, revolutions in technology have transformed the way we live, work and do business.” He went on to state that “over the next 10 years, nearly half of all new jobs will require education that goes beyond a high school education. And yet, as many as a quarter of our students aren’t even finishing high school.”
Here at Microsoft, we are taking the President’s call to action to prepare 100,000 new teachers in the fields of science and technology and engineering and math seriously. There is a big opportunity across the country to drive excitement in the student community for these subjects and a dire need for great teachers to inspire them. As the workforce continues to evolve, the jobs students in school today will enter tomorrow and in the future, in many cases, will look vastly different than the workforce of today. So we need to help students build skills for the future that will constantly evolve and increasingly involve technology. This is true for teachers too.
But what does Innovation + Education look like? And how can we amplify best practices that will help our students reach their full potential?
While we certainly don’t have all of the answers, I believe it takes a broad community effort to prepare our students today for the jobs of tomorrow. I think Microsoft has two great programs that are helping students and educators pave the way to a brighter future.
Partners in Learning and the Innovative Education Forum: Registration is now open for educators to showcase and celebrate innovative teaching & learning practices.
As described in the State of the Union, President Obama emphasized, “We want to reward good teachers.” As I’ve blogged about before, we need to up-level the importance of the role of teachers in our society. Microsoft believes that a great education starts with great teachers. We work hard to help train, recognize and reward educators through our Partners in Learning program. One of the events we host each year is the Worldwide Innovative Education Forum. This is an opportunity to recognize some of the top teachers and build a community of support for them to share their best practices and knowledge of preparing students for the future with their peers.
Regional events are happening around the world right now. The UK has already awarded their winners to compete at the next level. We invite educators to get involved with the program and register for this year’s Innovative Education Forum.
Imagine Cup: More than 50,000 students in the U.S. have already registered for the world’s premier technology competition.
During his speech, the President shared, “The first step in winning the future is encouraging American innovation.” Microsoft created the Imagine Cup nine years ago with the idea that students can and will change the world. Through the competition, they are already solving some of the world’s toughest problems. The Imagine Cup is the Olympics of technology and the solutions they create are extraordinary. This is one way that Microsoft is encouraging innovation in America and all over the globe.
Last year, more than 325,000 students worldwide registered to participate in the competition and engage in the dialogue of how students can change the world. Their solutions turned a phone into a tool to diagnose vascular disease, allowed visually impaired students to learn more effectively in the classroom and delivered vaccines more efficiently to patients. This year, more than 50,000 students in the United States have already registered and we are seeing incredible solutions. Students who are interested can still register and participate.
While for me and my work in education, the biggest take away from the State of the Union speech is that we need to do more to support our educators and our students...I hope the entire country and our citizens take it just as seriously. As we look to the future and the year 2035…Microsoft is committed to working with the broader education community to be part of the solution.