Sharing my blog post from The Official Microsoft Blog...
Today, the Catholic International Education Office (OIEC) took an exciting step toward delivering a brighter future for Catholic students around the world, demonstrating there is no greater resource to invest in than that of youth. Recognizing changes were needed to provide their students with the 21st century skills they’ll need in their future careers, OIEC is partnering with Microsoft to bring Office 365 and other resources to more than 200,000 Catholic schools all over the world with the potential to reach 43 million students.
The partnership between OIEC and Microsoft deploys some of the newest technologies, including more than 4.5 million subscriptions to Office 365 for education – a free tool for educators and students worldwide, which will be made available this summer during the first wave of deployment. The agreement empowers educators and students to do a number of things, including working together on class projects and documents simultaneously, collaborating in real time with virtual meetings, and participating in instant messaging and video conferencing across the globe. They’ll also be able to create and maintain compelling websites and edit them as easily as they would a Word document, and access a new “Social Network of Catholic Education,” designed by Microsoft and based on Windows Azure, as a private element of the Partners in Learning Network.
As someone who spent 20 years in the Catholic education system, I know the importance of a great Catholic education, and have experienced firsthand the exemplary efforts of the leaders to prepare their students for the challenges and opportunities of the future. It comes as no surprise to me that OIEC is pioneering this significant change to the education of their students – they have recognized the value of integrating technology into the classroom as a way to teach 21st century skills.
With this announcement, we see the shifting dynamics of the modern Catholic classroom ushering in an exciting era for the worldwide Catholic community, and, hopefully, serving as a harbinger for traditional classroom changes around the world. Research from IDC states that in the next decade, 77 percent of all jobs will require technical skills of some sort, and when institutions like OIEC make announcements akin to the one they made today at the Vatican, I feel a boost of confidence that our students will be prepared.
We need to continue to get creative about the ways technology can make a real impact in the lives of students and prepare them for the jobs of the future. Through this partnership, we will do just that. I am proud the leadership of the Catholic International Education Office has chosen to partner with Microsoft to deliver on their commitment to educators and students to modernize its schools and further its mission to promote education for all. Together, we can make a real impact in the classroom for both students and educators, and look forward to taking this journey with the Catholic community around the world.
It’s a fact of life that students increasingly are looking to the Web to consume information about their world, connect with friends, to gather information and research for school work and more. As students' digital appetite continues to grow, parents and schools need to be much more mindful of the potential dangers with regards to online safety, and provide the necessary guidance and instruction to students so they can have a safe online experience. As a technology vendor and industry leader, Microsoft has a responsibility to help make the Internet safer for everyone.
That’s why I’m excited about the new Family Safety features coming in Windows 8. You can read more details about the new features in Building Windows 8 blog here. With Windows 8, you can monitor what your kids are doing, no matter where they use their PC. Windows 8 gives you a “monitor first” approach, which provides informative activity reports for each child that summarizes their computer activities, including a list of websites they are visiting, latest search terms, what they are downloading and the amount of time spent on the PC and most used apps and games.
The Web is obviously a great learning tool both in and outside the classroom to help students build 21st century skills such as collaboration, problem solving, global awareness, knowledge building, and skilled communication. Microsoft has a lot of existing resources you can use to help provide kids with a safer experience online. Here is a site with some great resources.
We hear so much about what is wrong with the education in the U.S., but I know this week we can get beyond the debate and the dialogue to focus on celebrating teachers and how we can better support teachers so they can help students be successful. It is after all National Teacher Appreciation Week. The question should be…which teacher are you going to thank this week?
Teachers are the foundation of a strong education system. Some people even go as far to say that effective teachers are the number one predictor of student success. We're partnering with the Department of Education on www.teach.org to encourage more young pepole to go into the profession of teaching. I think what we have to do in the United States and all over the world is celebrate the value and role of teachers in our society, elevate the profession, and elevate the importance that they have in the lives of our families, of our children and of our countries. While it’s good to recognize the sacrifices teachers make, we need to shine a spotlight on the joys of being a teacher, the rewards, the impact and the value that being a teacher has on so many people’s lives.
That is why I started a new blog this year called “Daily Edventures,” where each day a voice of an “everyday hero” working to improve education worldwide is promoted. Teachers, school leaders, policy-makers, business leaders, celebrities…people who have embraced enhancing education as a core facet in their lives. This is their blog. Who are they, what inspires them, what frustrates them, what hopes do they hold for the future of education? Today, we highlight the 2010 U.S. National Teacher of the Year, Sarah Wessling. I encourage you to take a listen to my interview with Sarah to hear what she thinks makes a great teacher. I personally admire Sarah because she takes the chance to embrace failure, relates content to students’ lives, and most importantly, she tries to not only create life-long learners, but is one herself.
Those of us at Microsoft who are lucky enough to work in education feel a personal passion and commitment toward the future of education. And I have been so lucky to meet so many incredible educators around the world who have the power to inspire our children. There are amazing things happening from the work chess legend Gary Kasparov’s doing to use chess to improve learning, to Mamta Patel Nagaraja’s work at NASA to inspire girls to pursue STEM careers. This journey has confirmed what I knew before the year started…there’s no shortage of ideas, approaches or great leaders. We need to work together to drive and scale change…and we can no longer tolerate dissension or distraction from our mission to help every child reach their full potential.
Partners in Learning is Microsoft’s $500 million global initiative to help improve teaching and learning. So far, we’ve reached 10 million teachers and 200 million students in 119 countries. In November, in Athens, Greece, we will convene hundreds of the world’s best teachers at the Partners in Learning Global Forum. It’s the culmination of regional and country events around the world where educators compete to represent their countries most innovative teaching that uses technology and helps students build 21st century skills. If you are a teacher reading this, I encourage you to apply to attend what promises to be a life-changing experience.
So, who will you say “thank you” to today? I am saying thanks to all of you out there who continue to work hard for our children’s future and inspire me every day to work harder to serve your needs.