When I meet with customers and speak at events, I am frequently asked, “What do you think is the secret to Microsoft’s success? And what has enabled the company to keep growing over the years?” While a lot of Microsoft employees contribute to how we scale our products (product development, marketing, sales, etc.)…a source of differentiation is our ecosystem of partners. There are more than 640,000 partners worldwide who build, support and enhance technologies on the Microsoft platform. They are driving innovation, adding value, building local businesses, and growing local economies. These partners are a source of strength and they play a critical role in meeting the IT needs of our customers.
I just got home from New Orleans where the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) took place this week. It’s a great opportunity to meet with our partners who are working to solve the challenges we see in the classroom every day. They are helping technology work more effectively and more seamlessly, and really focusing on making magic happen in the classroom.
Datatel won our Education Partner of the Year award this year. Datatel’s ActiveCampus Portal solution is built on SharePoint technology and the company describes its technology as a powerful enterprise work environment and collaborative social learning platform that serves as a personalized one-stop service center for all college and university constituents. Students, faculty, staff and alumni can easily find information, access learning management systems, registration, calendaring, newsfeeds and virtually any other resource.
We are seeing lots of traction with our partners building solutions for Microsoft Live@edu. Because Live@edu is built around enterprise APIs, partners can easily integrate Live@edu into their offerings and solutions. It’s a great way to extend more value to customers who are already taking advantage of the free resources in Live@edu (email, storage, collaboration, document sharing, etc.) and deliver more options like workflow solutions, integration of security profiles, etc.
Many partners are very much focused on helping schools understand how to use data. Nuventive is one that is leveraging our data analytics platform and business intelligence framework to help schools interpret data, make decisions and drive change. They also have a digital portfolio solution for students to help students assess their progress in school and identify what competencies they need to grow, etc. The technology delivers the data in a much more actionable way instead of just providing charts and graphs.
Infusion is doing great work around Microsoft Surface and building applications to transform learning in the classroom, in particular making Surface a great information gathering place for complex data sets. Check out their blog to see examples of the cool applications they are building. We also announced this week a new Microsoft Surface Partner Program to accelerate the number of partners bringing multi-touch and multi-user solutions to market.
I also met with Neudesic and they are doing great work creating student information systems and incorporating SharePoint into the foundation of how schools use data, connect alumni and students information, etc. Speaktech also does great work taking the Microsoft technology stack, in particular, Live@edu and SharePoint, and make it really resonate with teachers and students from a design and social networking perspective. They get that students require content and experiences that are visually appealing and dynamic, and they use Silverlight and other technologies in innovative ways to enhance the experience.
We have hundreds of partners delivering education solutions. You can find more at the Microsoft Public Sector Partner Solution MarketPlace. And if you are one of our partners and weren’t able to travel to New Orleans this week, be sure to read more about our redesigned Microsoft Education Partner Network website. We listened to your feedback and are now supporting a “community” component which supports sharing and discussion between education partners, as well as directly with Microsoft, for product information, sales materials, education research and best practices.
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.
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!
Promoting itself as a community site for people who are smart enough to love OneNote...it'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 Microsoft.com. If you're a OneNote fan...or interested in becoming one, join...http://www.iheartonenote.com/
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 www.imaginecup.com/pca 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.
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)
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...
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.
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.