Teachers and Schools Celebrate Success at 2009 Microsoft Worldwide Innovative Education Forum

SALVADOR, Brazil — Nov. 4, 2009 — Today, at its fifth annual Worldwide Innovative Education Forum (IEF), Microsoft Corp. is celebrating the impressive work that teachers and school leaders from around the world are doing to help every student realize his or her full potential. In addition, Microsoft is announcing the launch one of the world’s largest networks for educators at http://www.partnersinlearningnetwork.com.

The network underscores Microsoft’s commitment to expand the power of education for all through personalized learning by connecting millions of teachers and school leaders around the world in a community of professional development.

Partners in Learning Network

Today’s launch of the Partners in Learning Network is the next generation of the Innovative Teachers Network (ITN), a global network expected to serve more than 2 million teachers and school leaders by next year. The network has evolved to include advances in social networking technology that will help teachers and school leaders do their jobs better by connecting them with one another in professional development communities. The site is available today in English and Ukrainian, with more in the coming months. As new languages become available for the Partners in Learning Network, existing ITN users will automatically have access to the new, more powerful features that this version of the network provides.

Members of the Partners in Learning Network will be able to take advantage of new capabilities such as the following:

  • Connecting with peers around the world based on professional interests, teaching subjects or location

  • Creating communities dedicated to innovative teaching and learning, and professional development

  • Finding new content and curricula such as peer coaching and the Innovative Schools Toolkit

  • Becoming content creators by sharing the latest thinking, tips and tricks, lesson plans, recommended links, and more

At its core, the Partners in Learning Network helps promote practices that school leaders and teachers can use to improve students’ 21st-century skills such as critical thinking and problem solving, collaboration, communication, contextual learning, creativity, and information and media literacy.

“The Partners in Learning Network provides a unique and powerful way to connect with educators around the world and offers them an accessible forum dedicated to the exchange of ideas, educational tools and collaboration,” said Michael Golden, corporate vice president of the Education Products Group at Microsoft. “The network demonstrates our continued focus on empowering educators to engage their students more deeply.”

Worldwide Innovative Teacher Awards

Each year, Microsoft Partners in Learning searches the world for teachers who have demonstrated an exemplary use of technology in the classroom. Thousands of teachers participate from around the world in country-level and regional competitions. After each competition, winners move to the next level, culminating each year at the Worldwide Innovative Education Forum, taking place this week in Salvador, Brazil. More than 250 regional winners from more than 60 countries are vying for 12 Worldwide Innovative Teacher Awards, to be announced at the end of the week.

“For me the Microsoft Innovative Teachers Forum is about recognizing an individual teacher’s practice that has had a real impact in the classroom. I believe that computer games have a huge amount of potential in the classroom so, for my project, I used an Xbox game as a contextual hub for learning and as a way to encourage the social interaction of children as they moved between primary and secondary school,” said Ollie Bray, deputy head teacher, Musselburgh Grammar School, Scotland. “My project was so well received that it was adopted and rolled out across all 47 schools in East Lothian, Scotland. I am pleased that Microsoft is recognizing this as an investment in learning and children as well as an innovative use of technology.”

Innovative Schools Program

Microsoft is expanding its Partners in Learning Innovative Schools program from a pilot program to a full-scale global program, with the addition of 30 new Pathfinder Schools and 12 Mentor Schools, representing 35 countries. Leaders from all 42 schools are gathering in Salvador for a four-day workshop to begin a journey of transformation in their school communities. Over the next 12 months, these school leaders will go back to their home communities with a mission to transform the way their schools operate. They will be encouraged to rethink all aspects of school life, from the structure of the day and the use of technology in the curriculum to ensuring that teachers have the space and time to bring innovative practices to the classroom. Microsoft is working in close partnership with local ministries of education to implement this program and ensure its success.

The schools chosen to participate in the Pathfinder Program were selected from more than 110 applicants from around the world. Each school in the program has demonstrated strong school leadership with a proven record of innovation and successful change implementation. The Pathfinder Schools have been chosen because of their vision for learning and have already started on the road to reform and improvement.

“By working hand in hand with Microsoft Innovative Schools program, the education community can gain an improved understanding of what students need to advance in a global economy,” said Bo Kristoffersson, principal of Viktor Rydberg Gymnasium in Sweden, a 2009 Innovative Schools Pathfinder school. “The Innovative Schools Program gives us the resources we need to provide the best education available, and we look forward to working with Microsoft and other schools in the program to identify the ways in which we can equip our students with knowledge, a drive for innovation, and a passion for technological discovery.”

The Pathfinder Schools will work with 12 regional Mentor Schools, chosen primarily among participants in the Innovative Schools Pilot Program, which ran over the last two years. The Mentor Schools will be honored at the event because they have achieved a level of change within their education systems and are viewed as leaders in their countries and regions. Their innovations have a global interest and are replicable models that other schools can follow. Some Pathfinder Schools will have the opportunity to share the knowledge they gain as Mentor Schools in the future.

Partners in Learning

The Worldwide Innovative Education Forum is hosted by Microsoft Partners in Learning, a 10-year, nearly $500 million commitment by Microsoft to transform education systems around the world. Announced in 2003, Partners in Learning helps schools and teachers more effectively use technology to advance teaching and learning, provides leadership and change management information to school leaders, works to strengthen teachers’ capacity to use technology effectively in the classroom, and provides greater access to technology for teachers and students.

About Microsoft Education

We believe that technology can expand the power of education and unlock the potential of students, educators and schools. Microsoft partners with education communities around the world to deliver relevant solutions, services and programs that focus on improved personalized learning outcomes.

About Unlimited Potential

Microsoft, through its Unlimited Potential vision, is committed to making technology more affordable, relevant and accessible for the 5 billion people around the world who do not yet enjoy its benefits. The company aims to do so by helping to transform education and foster a culture of innovation, and through these means enable better jobs and opportunities. By working with governments, intergovernmental organizations, nongovernmental organizations and industry partners, Microsoft hopes to reach its first major milestone — to reach the next 1 billion people who are not yet realizing the benefits of technology — by 2015.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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