Technology is having a transformative impact around the world. I wanted to share another great story, this time from the Abu Dhabi Center for Autism in the United Arab Emirates, where children with autism are benefitting from new technology form factors and user interfaces in assistive learning scenarios.
In the video below, you can see how the Maestro speech communication device built on Windows 7 works. It was developed to give individuals of all ages and abilities living with speech and language disabilities the ability to communicate using a sleek, stylish tool that allows the individual to blend in with their peers. Messages are composed by selecting vocabulary on the screen. Depending upon the individual’s abilities and needs, he or she may compose messages using symbols, words, phrases or letters – singularly or in combination.
The Maestro’s InterAACt language framework presents vocabulary in a way that is meaningful and relevant to the child, providing context when needed, and ensures that the child has the right words for every situation. InterAACt not only supports face-to-face interactions, but also communication by e-mail, text message and phone. The Maestro’s hardware also individuals to access the device via touch and alternative access methods such as scanning, eye gaze, joystick and Morse code.
The Maestro communication tool does a great job of removing barriers to communication by giving children with communication challenges the ability to effectively and efficiently communicate with others. And even better…it gives people the ability to independently initiate conversations!
During my visits I often have the great fortune of seeing best practices truly transforming schools and classrooms. I get to hear and learn from educators who are making magic happen for their students…and while I’m always inspired and energized…I am often challenged by the recognition that these projects largely do not scale and often will not be easily sustained or replicated beyond the project creator. Scaling innovation in education is a global issue and something we all must work to solve and identifying innovative teaching practices and the impact that they can have on student outcomes is a great place to start.
As people all over the world are talking about the need to transform education to align with the realities of life and work in the 21stCentury…we need to remember this is not just about the effective use of technology but about developing kids who are deeply engaged in the learning process and taking the initiative to learn.
How we make this transformation happen in schools and classrooms and how we measure success remains a critical priority. As part of our commitment to education transformation, we initiated the Innovative Teaching and Learning (ITL) Research project (www.itlresearch.com) to contribute information and policy insights on where and how effective education transformation is taking place around the world. ITL Research is a multiyear global research program designed to investigate the factors that promote the transformation of teaching practices and the impact those changes have on students’ learning outcomes across a broad range of country contexts.
We are working with global and local education leaders such as UNESCO and local Ministries of Education to include them in the research process and will be sharing data and results openly with all research partners and with the broader academic education community. The goal here is to recognize the importance of innovative teaching practices, inspire others to commitment to scaling innovation and creating a foundation for holistic education transformation.
Another exciting component of this project is the opportunity for individual schools and leaders to take part. Microsoft’s Partners in Learning School Research is a self-assessment survey research system that helps educators and school leaders understand and measure innovative teaching practices that develop the skills students need for life and work in the 21st Century. It’s an incredibly powerful tool that will give individual leaders an opportunity to measure and identify innovative teaching practices and compare and measure against the global survey results. The process is also very easy to administer…
1. A school leader signs up on this website.2. A research leader from the school sends out the survey to all educators and school leaders in the school.3. Each educator and school leader takes a 15 to 20 minute online survey about innovative teaching practices.4. Once the surveys have been completed, a research report based on the responses is sent to the research leader within 24 hours, who can then share it.5. The report shows measures of innovative teaching practices in the school and examples of innovative teaching practices.6. The surveys can be repeated each year to track and measure progress.
Visit www.pilsr.com to learn more about this project and how your school can take part. Maria’s video below does a great job of providing an overview of our work here and the opportunity ahead.
One of the most exciting trends happening in education today is the evolution of digital publishing. Publishers around the world are starting to embrace not only new reading modalities but new form factors and devices to create both interactive and enriching experiences for students and educators.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) is on the forefront of this and is working towards creating an engaging opportunity for educators and students to leverage content in exciting new ways.
Tony Clancy, Vice President of Technology Strategy and Architecture at HMH, and I had a great conversation about the potential, and the work that HMH is working on to deliver this in the coming years.
As technology in higher education continues to evolve and become more mission critical to operations across systems and learning environments…administrators are seeking new ways to evolve their current platforms. They’re also looking to embrace cloud technologies, mobile devices, as well as creating new opportunities for faculty and students to leverage technology.
One of our education partners, SunGard, is working through new ways to not only think globally around technology solutions but to create a balance of existing and emerging technology systems to create opportunities for higher education to move forward.
Brian Knotts, Senior Vice President, Global Architecture, at SunGard shared his thoughts with me in a great conversation featured here in this video.
One of the things schools are increasingly looking towards is the use of technology and data to create an opportunity for transformation and optimization of student learning opportunities. I’ve blogged previously about how schools are using data better to drive more successful student outcomes, and how partners are building new solutions to help them.
Tribal is one of our partners who is helping schools enable transformation by the use of data and integrated systems to create both business intelligent frameworks for teachers to more effectively assess student performance…but more effectively use technology to drive engaging and personalized learning opportunities for students.
I had a great conversation with Tribal recently about how they have been working with 700 schools in England to uncover pockets of excellence that is happening in some schools…and how their technology solution is helping to scale those best practices to other schools.
I started the conversation a few days ago about the evolution of digital publishing in education. As publishers move to digital text and reading, online storage and digital libraries are becoming increasingly popular as a destination path. The cloud, in addition to providing tremendous opportunities to scale, can create a great opportunity for publishers to use cloud storage and access to create unlimited anywhere anytime access for students, and create easier and more powerful digital libraries.
Microsoft Azure is increasingly a tool that publishers are looking towards for cloud storage and access. Cambridge University Press is one of the leading publishers looking to the cloud for digital publishing and content. I spoke with Ed Collins there who shared some of his thoughts on how they are thinking about using Microsoft technology to extend the reach of their content. Check out the video below.