Education Insights

Education news, trends, and highlights by Anthony Salcito, Vice President, Worldwide Education, Microsoft

  • Education Insights

    University Students Meet Their Perfect PC


    I thought I would share with you some fun commercials that were created at the University of Kentucky and the University of Colorado at Boulder this summer. They build on the concept our highly successful Laptop Hunter ads where people are looking for a computer that fits their lifestyle and their budgets. In the commercials, they figure out which PC is perfect for them based on their needs and priorities…whether it is gaming, travel, entertainment, media creation, or family computing.

    These university ads run with the theme “PC Hookup” and are a documentary of sorts, showing how the students choose a PC that meets their criteria and then how they spend the rest of the night using their new laptop as part of their regular life in everything they do. These ads underscore how students think their PC is such an important piece of their life...playing a critical role in their academic life and a centerpiece during their playtime. I’ll assume these videos were shot on a Friday night and that is why we don’t see the students doing any homework! Check out the Windows Laptop Scout website that has interactive tools to help you find the Windows laptop that fits your life.

    Check out the student videos here.

  • Education Insights

    Vote now for this year's Imagine Cup People's Choice Award


    In just about two weeks, more than 400 students from 70 countries will travel to New York City to compete at this year’s Imagine Cup 2011 Worldwide Finals. I'm starting to get inspired by all the projects created by students that not only enhance the way technology is making a difference in education, but really use technology to help individuals in their daily life.

    One of the projects that caught my attention is a project using Kinect to help students with cerebral palsy in Croatia that gives a hint for the potential future for this technology, and the many ways in which students can think about the ways to connect technology to practical examples to make a difference.

    The team from Venezuela made their own interactive whiteboard and tabletop from low-cost materials compared with commercial devices that are not accessible for most schools in the world. The students have also developed applications and created a website to share, rate and recommend interactive material online with other teachers to make primary classrooms more engaging.

    In all fairness, all of the student participants represent the next generation of entrepreneurs and inventors and they are tackling the world’s toughest problems…they have great ideas to improve healthcare, to stop pollution, disease and hunger, to improve disaster relief response, to increase access to education, and much more.

    I encourage you to check out all the videos at and vote for your favorite. The People’s Choice contest runs through July 12. The winning team will be announced on Wednesday, July 13 at the Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals in New York City, and will receive a $10,000 (USD) prize.

  • Education Insights

    Remembering heroes on 9/11


    As an American and a New Yorker, the impact of the events on 9/11 has certainly had a deep personal impact on me.

    I was actually traveling to visit schools in Florida the morning of 9/11. I left from Boston’s Logan International Airport, the same airport where two of the planes unknowingly carrying terrorists also departed. While I was half asleep, the pilot interrupted with the announcement that we were making an emergency landing and the plane quickly descended straight down and my life flashed before my eyes. At the time, no one was certainly thinking about a terrorist attack. We ended up landing in Charlotte, greeted by a flight attendant who said, “Welcome to Charlotte.”

    The events of 9/11 have changed how we think of the world and how we appreciate our freedoms and our safety. It’s also changed the way in which we celebrate the heroes in our world…our military, firefighters, doctors, law enforcement officials, rescue workers, etc. And certainly I count teachers in that class as well.

    I’ve long believed that the reverence and distinction we apply to heroes…and in many cases the way in which we celebrate military fanfare with symbolic medals of distinction…all need to be appreciated for the work that they do. When I think about 9/11, I think about celebrating and thanking the heroes who work tirelessly who help others, and I celebrate teachers in the same way.

    (Photo Courtesy: Mark Lennihan/AP)

  • Education Insights

    Video of the Week: Imagine Cup 2009


    Imagine a world with less poverty, hunger and disease, greater survival prospects for mothers and their infants, better educated children, equal opportunities for women, and a healthier environment; a world in which developed and developing countries worked in partnership for the betterment of all. Now imagine that you are part of the solution.

    This is the bold vision hundreds of thousands of students will attempt to address by participating in the 2009 Imagine Cup.  This program annually sets a very high bar for student expectations and connects our students to the real problems the world is facing that they will confront as future leaders.

    Imagine Cup 2009 Embedded Development Invitational

    The Imagine Cup encourages young people to apply their imagination, their passion and their creativity to technology innovations that can make a difference in the world – today. Now in its seventh year, the Imagine Cup has grown to be a truly global competition focused on finding solutions to real world issues.  Open to students around the world, the Imagine Cup is a serious challenge that draws serious talent, and the competition is intense. The contest spans a year, beginning with local, regional and online contests whose winners go on to attend the global finals held in a different location every year.  The intensity of the work brings students together, and motivates the competitors to give it their all. The bonds formed here often last well beyond the competition itself.

    This is a program that truly makes me proud to be a part of Microsoft!

  • Education Insights

    I Really Do HEART OneNote



    Promoting itself as a community site for people who are smart enough to love's hard not to be a fan...of the site or product.  Check out this cool new community site...find example notebooks, share the OneNote love, and more. If you're not sure what OneNote is, visit the site on  If you're a OneNote fan...or interested in becoming one, join...

  • Education Insights

    Video of the Week: AeA 21st Century Learning Symposium


    I want to thank Ed Longanecker for providing a recap of the 21st Century Learning conversation that took place in Springfield, IL last week.  Good opportunity to share perspectives on this important topic.  Special thanks to students of the Lincoln Magnet School in Springfield, IL for their participation in the event and their work on the video. Visit the site recap for more information on the event as well as links to our competency work and 6i process.  Also included is the presentation I delivered at the conference.  Feel free to ping me if you want to learn more...

  • Education Insights

    Microsoft Education Partner Interview: Cambridge University Press


    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.

  • Education Insights

    Travels to New Zealand and the state of education


    New Zealand is in the midst of lots of changes.  Some of it is politically driven but most of it is driven by a real desire to improve education in the country and really grow how education can make a difference among both students who have had access to technology and the students who have been removed from that opportunity for economic or social reasons. One of the interesting things about New Zealand is how national assessment and benchmarking has affected how the leaders think about the quality of their education system. One of the things I heard quite a bit when I was in New Zealand was the solid performance the country has had on PISA and TIMSS benchmarking tests.

    For the countries and the students who are doing well and achieve high scores on the tests it can be a source of amazing pride throughout the country.  It seemed like everyone I talked to was reflecting on the fact that New Zealand's education system was fairly healthy comparatively from around the world.  And that's good.  It's good to see a country take pride in their education's success and successful outcomes. On the other side of the coin, I encourage education leaders to just not focus here, because fundamentally you don't want to not only rest on the education progress you're making but also take too much into any one measure. We've got to continue to innovate and elevate our education expectations regardless of one or two national assessments that happen every few years.  Ultimately, we've got to continue to push hard.

    I was excited to see the leadership in New Zealand is embracing that challenge and seeing that the way in which technology can make a difference and impact in the country is certainly nowhere near where the potential lies. There's lots of amazing conversations happening around how do think through everything from 21st century skills integration to how do we think about digital access to accessibility, technology, and making a meaningful impact. There’s also a fundamental connection to the industries and industry motivating elements like entrepreneurship as a key focus in the education system.

    Although New Zealand may have good test scores, there’s clear motivation from people to continue to make improvements, and I'm confident they'll continue to be a world leader and push for change that can be helpful for the rest of the world to look at and learn from.

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