WASHINGTON — June 29, 2009 — This week at the National Educational Computing Conference (NECC) 2009, Microsoft Corp. is showcasing innovative technologies that enable teachers to engage their students more deeply by adapting teaching to the unique needs of each learner. These tools range from the introduction of Windows 7 education-friendly features to a new collaborative initiative between the Microsoft Innovative Teachers Network (ITN) and the Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies, as well as a variety of free software and services to help teachers enhance the education experience for their students.
“Effective teachers are the key to engaged and successful students,” said L. Michael Golden, corporate vice president, Education for Microsoft. “Technology can help educators gain more insight into individual students’ needs and relevant ways to support them, connect and collaborate with students, parents and peers, and improve outcomes to generate and use best practices. As we extend the breadth and depth of our toolset, learning can become more personal for everyone.”
Introducing Windows 7 to Teachers and Schools
Designed to be more reliable and more responsive, and to make everyday tasks easier, Windows 7 will help students, faculty and staff be more productive, effective and efficient.
A redesigned UI and other desktop improvements make using the PC easier and provide immediate access to the applications and files people use most through features such as Jump Lists, Previews and the new Task Bar. Windows 7 makes new learning experiences possible with features such as multitouch that will facilitate new methods and ways to interact with data, lessons plans, and Web pages by enabling people to interact with their multitouch-enabled PC using gestures, handwriting or voice commands that were available in Windows Vista. With Windows 7, Microsoft has also improved what people care about most in an operating system — performance, reliability, compatibility and battery life. Windows 7 provides more security features to help protect sensitive data, improved desktop management tools and application compatibility with Windows XP Mode* to allow many Windows XP-based productivity applications to run on a Windows 7-based PC.
Catherine Cook School in Chicago has been testing Windows 7 since the beta was released in January and plans to have the new OS running on all its schools’ small notebook and Tablet PCs when the students return for school this fall.
“I am really impressed with the performance — the decreased memory and processing usage. I’m able to get more out of the PCs we already own,” said Bill Mierisch, director of Technology, Catherine Cook School. “Because Windows 7 is a smaller footprint, I won’t have to invest in extra RAM, and I will be able to deliver more services to students and teachers such as multimedia programs, audio and graphics manipulation because the operating system isn’t using all the juice.”
Educators everywhere are encouraged to download the Windows 7 Release Candidate now at (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-7/download.aspx) to explore the benefits. Windows 7 will be broadly available to teachers, students, staff and the general public in retail outlets on Oct. 22. Those who buy a qualifying Windows Vista-based PC from a participating original equipment manufacturer or reseller in the back-to-school timeframe may receive an upgrade to Windows 7 at little or no cost. More information on the Windows 7 Upgrade Option is available at http://www.windows.com/upgradeoffer.
Collaborating With the Smithsonian to Deliver New Classroom Content
At NECC, Microsoft and the Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies also unveiled plans to share Smithsonian instructional and professional development resources in art, history and science, through Microsoft distribution channels for teachers. The relationship broadens the potential for social network engagement and cross-collaboration by distributing new content through the Microsoft ITN, one of the leading online forums for educators to connect and collaborate. The Smithsonian and Microsoft will also team together to increase the Smithsonian’s audience of educators and bring about new ways to engage them through events, online interactions and Microsoft’s beneficial technology content for educators. ITN is committed to helping the Smithsonian build communities and drive discussion based on popular teaching topics such as climate change, which is the subject of the next Smithsonian Education Online Conference on Sept. 29, 30 and Oct. 1. The conference’s interactive format makes experts accessible in real time for conversation with teachers and students. Registration for the free online event is at http://www.SmithsonianEducation.org/Climate.
“We are excited to work with Microsoft to disseminate the museum’s content and make it easily accessible to an even broader audience of educators,” said Stephanie Norby, director of the Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies. “With many school districts discontinuing traditional print textbooks and moving to digital content, the opportunity to more broadly distribute online content that is engaging and flexible is very interesting to us.”
Innovative Teachers Network Making Global Connections
The Innovative Teachers Network (http://us.itn.partnersinlearning.com), a Partners in Learning program, has nearly 2.5 million teachers in 86 countries using it today, new features, collaborations and content continue to be added. ITN is the destination place for educators to join a global dialogue and exchange great ideas, best practices and proven methodologies around the world and obtain free high-quality classroom and professional development content. Starting today, for ITN members only, teachers can get a free download of AutoCollage, an advanced computer vision and imaging processing program from Microsoft Research that automatically creates photo montages of digital pictures to allow more dynamic and visual experiences to be shared in the classroom. Teachers can also now use their Windows Live ID to conveniently register and log into ITN, and can download a new plug-in to access and integrate ITN content with their learning management platform.
Free Software and Services to Encourage Exploration and Discovery
Teachers know that real educational success happens when students are engaged and motivated to study. Microsoft delivers a toolset of free technologies and resources to empower teachers to easily respond to individual learners and their course-related interests in an active learning environment. Some of these resources include the following:
Worldwide Telescope (http://www.worldwidetelescope.org). A rich Web application brings together imagery from the best ground- and space-based observatories in the world, including NASA, and allows students and teachers to explore outer space as a way to make science fun.
Photosynth (http://www.microsoft.com/education/products/student/photosynth). Photo-imaging technology stitches together overlapping, panoramic digital photos automatically to create exciting 3-D worlds students can browse and share online.
Digital literacy curriculum (http://www.digitalcitizenshiped.com). Free e-learning modules and assessments teach students about the Internet and the Web, computer basics, productivity programs, computer security and privacy, and digital lifestyles.
Expression Web curriculum (http://expression.microsoft.com/en-us/dd252934.aspx). Free curriculum, tutorials and videos assist educators in teaching middle and high school students Web design; free software is also available via a subscription to the Microsoft Developer Network Academic Alliance.
Learning Essentials (http://www.microsoft.com/learningessentials). A desktop application runs on top of Microsoft Office helping educators easily create effective instructional resources, complete administrative tasks and implement new teaching strategies.
CareerForward (http://www.microsoft.com/education/uspil/careerforward). A self-contained online course, available to students across the United States, helps schools prepare students for their places in the work force of the future and for career opportunities in a global economy.
More information about the free tools and resources is available at http://www.microsoft.com/education/teachers/default.aspx.
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* Windows XP Mode requires either OEM pre-installation or post-purchase installation of Windows XP Mode (which runs on Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate) and a virtualization technology such as Windows Virtual PC. Both Windows XP Mode and Windows Virtual PC can be downloaded from http://www.windows.com/business/downloads. For more information on system requirements, go to http://www.microsoft.com/virtual-pc.
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