Microsoft Launches Vision for Role of Technology in Higher Education: Building 21st Century Campuses in The Connected Learning Community

REDMOND, Wash., Nov. 10, 1997 — Our nation’s 15 million college students have many different academic majors, career goals and personal ambitions, but they all have one thing in common: They must develop strong information technology skills to survive in a technology-driven work force and in a world increasingly populated with computers. Colleges and universities grapple daily with the challenges of building their institutions’
“digital nervous systems,”
ensuring students and faculty access to the highest-quality learning resources, training faculty members to use technology in instruction, and funding technology purchases so that they can help their students attain critical technology skills.

Key to meeting those challenges is building a 21st Century Campus where learning is not limited by campus boundaries. It’s what Microsoft Corp. calls The Connected Learning Community. Demonstrating its continued commitment to advancing the role of technology in education, Microsoft Corp. today announced its vision for the role of technology in higher education – a vision of a 21st Century Campus in The Connected Learning Community.

“When I visit college and university campuses, I am amazed at how students, faculty and staff are using technology to enhance the learning environment,”
said Bill Gates, Microsoft chairman and CEO.

They are building campuses with no boundaries – 21st Century Campuses. As I have said many times, at Microsoft we believe the most important use of information technology is to improve education, and we are committed to working with colleges and universities as they build technology infrastructures, train educators to integrate technology into the curriculum, and ensure access to resources for students.”

In 1995, Microsoft launched its vision for technology in education, The Connected Learning Community. In The Connected Learning Community, learning isn’t limited by walls, the contents of a library’s shelves, or the credentials of one university’s faculty. The usual barriers of time, distance, convenience and access diminish. Every learner has access to technology 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Technology tools, such as productivity software, the Internet and e-mail, are available to help community members find, evaluate, organize and use information effectively.

Working with academic and information technology experts at two- and four-year institutions across the country, Microsoft explored higher education’s unique technology needs and developed a vision for the role of technology for colleges and universities in The Connected Learning Community – a vision of a 21st Century Campus. On the 21st Century Campus, information technology enhances teaching and learning, and creates a dynamic learning environment in which the following benefits are offered:

  • Students develop lifelong learning skills and are prepared for an information-based workforce.

  • Students and faculty have access to rich instruction and a vast knowledge base that includes other students and educators worldwide.

  • Teaching and learning are customized, allowing students to explore their personal areas of study and interests any time they want to, anywhere they may be.

  • Business and administrative tasks, such as student registration and financial management, are efficient and accessible, providing more time for teaching and learning.

“Our students are entering a world in which 60 percent of the jobs will require technological competency, a world in which they must continue to update their occupational and technological skills in order to be successful,”
said James L. Morrison, Microsoft Scholar and professor of educational leadership at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“We must enable them to become technologically competent. We must take advantage of the capacity of technology to enhance our traditional classroom instruction and to engage our students in active learning.”

Meeting the Challenges of the 21st

Century Campus

Today’s colleges and universities face more challenges than ever as they strive to give students the education and technology skills they need to succeed. While incoming freshmen today often arrive on campus with a laptop or PC in tow, many have yet to learn how to use
e-mail or word-processing software effectively or to develop the critical thinking skills they will need to evaluate and manage the vast amounts of information the Web puts at their fingertips. As they build their 21st Century Campuses, college and university administrators and information technology professionals must grapple with issues ranging from making decisions about hardware platforms and software to providing support for the users of campus technology.

“The integration of information technology into learning in higher education is an urgent priority,”
said Edward Barboni, senior associate for the Council of Independent Colleges and Microsoft Scholar.
“The higher education community must continue to find innovative ways to empower educators to use technology to enhance learning and prepare students for careers and a lifetime of learning.”

Despite their large investments in hardware and software, college and university leaders still identify helping faculty members integrate technology into instruction as one of the most important technology issues they face. They struggle to provide faculty with training so they can use technology as a tool for instruction, course management and research.

Training is equally important to students, who must master an impressive array of technology skills, ranging from understanding productivity and communication software tools to information-seeking and management skills, to excel in today’s work force. College graduates need to know how to use the Internet, e-mail and database, spreadsheet and word-processing software just to survive, and they rely on colleges and universities for opportunities to learn those skills.

“I know that whether I choose business or architecture as a career, I will use technology every day of my life,”
said Oriana Basile, a sophomore at the University of Washington in Seattle.
“The only way I’ll succeed in my career is to understand at least the basics of how to use technology. Before coming to the University of Washington, I had never been on the Internet or used e-mail. I have promised myself that I will take advantage of every opportunity to develop my computer and Internet skills – way beyond those basics.”

In fact, to help meet the needs of students like Basile, more and more colleges and universities are making technology skills a graduation requirement. The 1997 Campus Computing Survey, conducted by Kenneth C. Green, director of the Campus Computing Project, revealed that more than 40 percent of college campuses have some type of computer instruction or information technology requirement for all undergraduates. The University of Minnesota at Crookston (UMC) led the way in 1993; now all students at UMC are issued a notebook computer, an e-mail account and a Web page account. They then enroll in a required course, Information Technology, where they learn how to use the computer and e-mail, word processing and other technology skills. After four years of using a laptop computer in all their courses, UMC students graduate with an excellent grasp of how to apply technology to their respective careers.

Rainier Technology in Minneapolis is one company that consistently hires UMC graduates because of their information technology skills.
“When we recruit employees, we look for college graduates who have hands-on experience with technology,”
said Dave Eaton, president of Rainier Technology.
“The most technologically savvy employees come from schools such as the University of Minnesota, Crookston, where technology is integrated into classroom instruction, and students practice what they learn while working on real projects.”

Microsoft Will Help Build 21st

Century Campuses

Microsoft is committed to helping colleges and universities build 21st Century Campuses in The Connected Learning Community by working closely with the higher education community and thousands of Microsoft® Certified Solution Providers worldwide. Microsoft Certified Solution Providers assist colleges and universities in creating solutions that enhance their technology investments. Valuable services include consulting, customizing and integrating software, developing turnkey applications, and providing technical training and support.

To ensure that Microsoft’s technology products and solutions meet the needs of the higher education community, the company’s higher education customer unit spends countless hours talking with college and university faculty members and administrators. Two groups -Microsoft Scholars and Partners for the Advancement of Technology in Higher Education (PATH) – regularly share their insights on the technology challenges faced by colleges and universities. Microsoft Scholars include university administrators, information technology professionals, industry professionals and faculty members from institutions such as Ohio State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. PATH is a coalition of leading higher education associations, including the American Association for Higher Education and the Council of Independent Colleges. The PATH members and the Microsoft Scholars counsel Microsoft on the technology challenges of Internet integration, instructional use, strategic and financial planning, and faculty training in higher education.

Every time we meet with the PATH associations, the Microsoft Scholars and other members of the higher education community, we learn something new about the information technology challenges that colleges and universities deal with daily and about their innovative strategies for using technology to build 21st Century Campuses,”
said Aleisa Spain, director of higher education marketing at Microsoft.
“We use that information to work with our education solution providers to develop technology solutions and tools that solve real education problems and allow educators to concentrate on teaching and learning.”

In addition to developing new programs that will help colleges and universities meet their information technology challenges, Microsoft will continue to do the following:

  • Offer higher education decision-makers an overview of these latest technologies and their applications for higher education through Higher Education Solution Briefings planned for 30 cities around the country in 1997 and 1998.

  • Help faculty members and students by providing resources such as The Technology Source ( ), a free online newsletter with the latest information about Microsoft products and programs (connect-time charges may apply); as well as the Microsoft Academic Cooperative Web site ( ), which offers easy-to-access instructional materials.

  • Donate software and training materials through the Microsoft Instructional Grant Program and other programs to prepare students in all disciplines for the 21st century work force and for their lives. The Instructional Grant Program has provided more than $20 million in free licenses for Microsoft development tools, applications and operating systems to colleges and universities. In return, faculty share curriculum resources and materials with other educators through the Microsoft Academic Cooperative Web site.

For more information about The Connected Learning Community – a vision for a 21st Century Campus – as well as other Microsoft programs and products, visit Microsoft’s award-winning education Web site at or request a copy of the Microsoft 21st Century Campus in The Connected Learning Community brochure by sending e-mail to [email protected].

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

Microsoft is either a registered trademark or trademark of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.
Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at on Microsoft’s corporate information pages.

Related Posts