MTC Chicago: How to Engage Students with Technology

MTC Chicago: How to Engage Students with Technology

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A few years ago, Microsoft did not have a complete end-to-end solution when it came to education. We made good software but didn’t make devices. We had productive applications but couldn’t enable collaboration in the cloud. Many schools today are rolling out Google Docs, Chromebook PCs, or iPads because of decisions made in prior years. Today, with our commitment to education through the free Microsoft Office 365 Education A2 plan, enabling full productivity in the cloud, and a wide variety of cost-effective Windows 8.1 devices, including Surface, we have a compelling, complete solution!

Education is a hot topic in technology and is top of mind at Microsoft because many of us are parents ourselves. Parents sometimes get frustrated when their children are forced to use inferior technology and are potentially being under-educated in skills required for most jobs. Recently, a parent (and employee at Microsoft) approached the Microsoft Technology Center (MTC) in Chicago, Illinois, about hosting a school district for a Strategy Briefing. The group included the superintendent, principals, teachers, IT directors, and managers. Our goal was to showcase how technology can play a significant role in a student’s education while sharing the many resources available to them through Microsoft.

Since then, we have been hosting school districts regularly at the MTC Chicago and covering a variety of topics of interest to educators:

  • Collaboration in the classroom using real-time co-authoring, in-class desktop sharing, team sites for discussions, powerful data analytics, and document sharing with offline automatic syncing.
  • One device for everything in your life whether in the classroom using legacy peripherals such as USB microscopes or at home using your favorite applications.
  • Consistent user experience across platforms and devices leveraging cloud technology to enhance the user’s productivity. Special needs accessibility gives every student the opportunity to experience a full curriculum.
  • Shared notebooks with inking capability between teachers and students enhance the learning experience. Curriculum development with easy to use search functionality, applications, and resources increase adoption of technology in the classroom.
  • Advertisement free search for students helps guarantee privacy by eliminating data-mining in schools.  

Learning does not end with a visit to the MTC. We have developed a catalogue of free offerings that enable us to keep students and educators engaged and plugged into technology. Some of these opportunities for schools include:

  • Student Field Trips – we teach students how to build and program their own video game using Project Spark. They can then upload this game to their Xbox or PC, share it with friends, and play it for free. Click here for more information.
  • Professional Development – we host workshops for teachers and educators to help bridge the knowledge gap that usually results in low adoption of technology.
  • Workshops @ Microsoft Store – offered monthly at our local Microsoft Stores focusing on incorporating technology into specific subjects, in addition to product-specific training. Click here for more information.
  • Partners in Education Network – we help support teachers and educators in developing curriculum that is supplemented by technology and easy-to-use apps. Click here for more information.

Windows 8.1 start screen featuring a typical student workload enabling productivity and social needs to align on one device.

Technology moves at a rapid pace; but Microsoft’s large investments in education are helping students reach their full potential. Visiting one of the many Microsoft Technology Centers around the world could be a great start for your school or school district to better understand all the resources, tools, and products that are available.


Elie El-Zammar is a Solution Sales Professional working at the Microsoft Technology Center in Chicago, Illinois, as part of the Microsoft Academy of College Hires program. Elie is from Vancouver, Canada, and graduated with a B.S. in Physics. He built a background in private banking and then moved to South Bend, Indiana, to complete an M.B.A. at the University of Notre Dame. Elie has always had a flare for technology and a passion for education—both for personal growth and real-life application. Elie is an avid hockey fan (Vancouver Canucks) and player. Go IRISH!

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  • Well written Elie, keep up the good work :)

  • Great Job Elie, We are so proud of you.

  • Excellent job Elie.  Your passion and motivation for your work has brought you this far and will lead you to a more prosperous future. Keep it up.

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