In celebration of World Teachers’ Day, I’m excited to congratulate the 2012 class of Mentor and Pathfinder schools joining the Microsoft Partners in Learning (PIL) Schools Program. These schools and the teachers behind them are a constant source of inspiration for their steadfast dedication and passion to drive positive change in education.
The 82 schools selected from 61 countries provide a glimpse of the best innovations happening in education around the world. Selected through a rigorous application and evaluation process, these schools were chosen based on their global examples of inspirational leadership, proven records of innovation, and successful implementations of change. The Microsoft Partners in Learning Schools Program was built on findings from 12 pioneering innovative schools that have each taken a unique approach to assessing, improving, and evaluating their learning environments to successfully move beyond the limits of the classroom and traditional learning models. There are now more than 7,000 schools in this program. You can see and learn more about the Pathfinder and Mentor schools on this interactive Bing map.
While all of these schools face different challenges and opportunities, their implementations of innovation in the classroom have global relevance that we can all learn from. Based on the notion that teachers cannot be successful innovators unless their school systems support inventive teaching and learning, the PIL Schools program helps school leaders develop a vision to transform their school community into an environment that fosters 21st century learning. Through the mentorship program, schools can share successes as well as search for solutions by tapping the global intelligence of some of the most notably successful schools, and school leaders, in the world. The program aims to discover, share and scale best practice and develop models and assets that any school can use to help students reach their full potential. The video below gives an overview of three of our Mentor Schools from Colombia, Finland, and South Africa.
It takes great leadership to drive great change in any organization, and especially in education there is an increasing need to elevate women into leadership positions. UNESCO established World Teachers’ Day back in 1994 to celebrate the profession and to promote international standards for teaching. This year’s theme is “teachers for gender equality. “ Earlier this year, Microsoft and UNESCO entered a new partnership to address the unequal education opportunities and low literacy rates for women and girls across the world. We hope that today’s spotlight on the importance of teachers for children’s successful futures renews and spurs more discussions and actions to open up equal opportunities for women and girls to access a quality education. For more on that, please read UNESCO’s blog post on the Microsoft On The Issues blog.
As a gamer and someone who's excited about the potential for gamification in education and the way in which we can apply incentives and other features of gaming to the learning process, I am a huge fan of Kinect. I'm a fan of the opportunities it's going to open up for new user interfaces, the opportunities it has to engage students in new ways of learning, and the ways in which it can actually drive innovation in creating new experiences in the classroom and beyond.
With the 1-year anniversary of Kinect this week, we are celebrating “The Kinect Effect” – all the unexpected, innovative and exciting ways people are using the controller-free game device that we could have never imagined as the intended use. It is transforming the ways people think about technology in healthcare, education, art and many other industries.
We've already seen tremendous enthusiasm and usage of Kinect among academics and hobbyists tinkering with the Kinect for Windows SDK. And today, Microsoft announced that we will make available a commercial version of the Kinect for Windows SDK early next year. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) is one of the many of educational organizations among the 200 applicants in the pilot program building applications using Kinect right now. The Kinect SDK will provide toolsets for inspiration of great ideas and great applications of this new technology, and I'm excited to see the impact.
A lot of work has been done in Microsoft Research (MSR) to extend the ways in which we think about physical reality, gesture control, as well as how it interacts with the real world. Kinect is a great example of a technology that's pushing the edge and demonstrating not only what's here today but what's possible for the future. This video below extends that type of thinking in a project called Holodesk, which uses a hologram and a transparent display to create a synthesis between the physical world and the digital world in a way in which you can manipulate objects, collaborate, as well as integrate physical objects with virtual objects in space. The potential for this in education…simulating, modeling, and looking at three-dimensional objects is exciting.
What’s next? Check out the video below for some of our ideas, but we’re hoping you’ll join us invent where Kinect goes next.
As schools and teachers continue to use digital assets for collaboration, homework assignments, and more, learning management systems and tools such as Moodle have grown in popularity in classrooms.
ELEARNINGFORCE manages to take many of the same features and tools requested by customers and built a solution around Microsoft SharePoint as a toolset. This not only provides greater range of functionality and power but overall cost savings as it relates to administrative costs, management, etc.
Kelvin Hicks and I had an opportunity to talk about his thoughts on some of the broader trends as it relates to technology and education, and the growing role collaboration is having on the education process in classrooms and virtually. Take a listen…