UPDATED July 18th at 8:00 a.m. PT with URL to White House press release.
Recognizing it will take all of us…schools, parents, guardians, foundations, governments and corporate partners to meet the challenges facing our kids today…we are honored to be invited to meet with President Obama, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Senior White House Advisors, and industry leaders, for a roundtable discussion on education reform on Monday. We are hopeful that gatherings such as this will continue to elevate the conversation and remind us all that providing every child a quality educational experience must be a right of this country, not a privilege. Continued investment in education is the key ingredient in creating a skilled workforce that will grow and sustain our national economy. (See White House press release here and Wall Street Journal story here.) At Microsoft, we believe we must continue to create more engaging and effective learning environments that result in improved student performance, and reflect the digital nature of students’ lives. However, all too often we have seen schools implement technology for the sake of technology. So today, we are announcing a $15M investment in 3 key areas of innovation – increasing engagement, managing information, and supporting educators. Around the world, every day, students are engaged in playing games. These digital exercises provide us insight into their motivations and passions. And yet, our classrooms and content take little advantage of this information. With this new investment, Microsoft will support research and development in understanding and creating learning environments that integrate the characteristics of gaming that kids are passionate about. Just imagine…every day a child will fail at a game, and yet keep coming back to try again. But in our classrooms, for most, once a child experiences failure, they shut down. We need to bring the same passion they bring to their digital lives into our classrooms. This investment will help our partners and educators do just that. Microsoft also recognizes that with the growth of both informal and formal learning opportunities, we must do a better job capturing and sharing our learning artifacts and achievements. To support this need, Microsoft will invest in the development of a digital learning archive. This will allow kids the ability to capture their learning artifacts, achievements, and various other types of data in a secure repository, allowing them to gather in one place their lifelong learning record, and share this information with those they choose. While we believe technology can be the accelerator to make schools more productive and more effective, it is no silver bullet. We recognize that every day, teachers are challenged to bring the right tools and resources into their classrooms, and so we are not only investing in technology and the platform, but in the innovation of human capital as well. Therefore, over the next 3 years, Microsoft is committing to train more than 150 thousand educators in the U.S. to elevate their skills so they can benefit from these new technologies. We will also provide access to new professional learning communities, best practices and training to every teacher in the United States through a new Partners in Learning Network. For more than 25 years, Microsoft has worked with teachers and schools worldwide to improve education by using technology to engage, explore and create. Today’s $15M investment builds on the company’s recent education commitments to help increase the number of Washington State students earning bachelor’s degrees in high-demand STEM fields, investments to improve access to technology in Los Angeles and San Francisco, our annual investment in U.S. Partners in Learning and many more totaling over $90M.
I’ve spent some time in Los Angeles this week at Microsoft’s annual Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) meeting with partners, talking about business opportunities to build on the Microsoft platform to deliver new solutions to the education market and celebrating their successes. This year, Desire2Learn won the 2011 Microsoft Public Sector Education Partner of the Year Award for delivering innovative solutions that directly address customer challenges.
Desire2Learn is recognized as a global eLearning solution provider and I'm excited about the work they are doing across the Microsoft platform. The Desire2Learn environment is a complete web-based suite of easy-to-use tools and functionality built exclusively on Microsoft Windows and SQL Server. Other Microsoft technologies integrated—or soon to be integrated—in their products include: Live@edu, Windows Phone 7, Lync, Office 365, and SharePoint Server. We see Desire2Learn really delivering a broad range of solutions that connect a range of Microsoft technologies in real ways that schools want to use them in terms of providing flexible connections to learning management applications, providing a very collaborative stack, and building it on affordable and flexible technology that scales with schools.
Earlier, I had the chance to speak with Jeremy Auger, Desire2Learn’s Chief Operating Officer. One of the things we talked about was the way in which they're using the Microsoft platform to build very custom solutions for schools, that they're taking what they've learned and feedback from schools who have used learning management systems before and filling the gaps and responding to customers’ wish lists.
In my 19 years at Microsoft, I've never seen a product evolve as much as Microsoft MultiPoint Server has in such a short period of time. Buying more computers to provide more students with access to technology is not the only expense schools are worried about…there are also budget considerations for energy and maintenance.
With Microsoft MultiPoint Server 2011, one host computer can be shared by up to 20 users simultaneously reducing upfront hardware acquisition costs as well as ongoing operational costs. I’ve previously blogged about the benefits of Microsoft’s MultiPoint solutions here. With the 2011 version, there are even more benefits that extend the life of computing and provide collaboration spaces where you can connect a group.
One of my favorite new features is in the management console called MultiPoint Manager (video). It’s great for teachers to easily monitor what all the kids are working on and keep them focused. From the teacher’s desktop, you can zoom in on a student’s screen, block activity, open and close applications and put restrictions on Internet access to specific sites.
Recently, Microsoft commissioned Forrester Consulting to examine the total economic impact and potential return on investment (ROI) for Windows MultiPoint Server 2011 for schools in emerging markets. The study found that schools “can expect an ROI of 206%, a “payback” period of less than five months, and an overall cost savings of 66% compared to the alternative scenario of investing in a traditional 1:1 computing environment.” Click here to read the full report (PDF download) and check out the latest customer success stories from Czech Republic, India and Nepal below.