NEW ORLEANS, Feb. 22, 1999 — Today at a gathering of more than 4,500 U.S. public school superintendents, Microsoft Chairman and CEO Bill Gates shared a vision for how school districts can use technology to create more effective and efficient schools and announced a new education software-industry initiative to improve the performance of software for schools.
“The PC and the Internet are catalysts for reaching the educational goals that parents, educators and government have set for K-12 schools,”
School leaders who embrace technology as a new teaching and learning tool will shape education in the 21 st century.”
The closing speaker at the 131st annual conference of the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), Gates said he sees a future where school districts will develop strong
“digital nervous systems”
– electronic systems that provide access to the information and collaboration tools schools need to meet today’s instructional and administrative challenges.
The components of an effective digital nervous system are PCs connected to the Internet, reliable e-mail, easy-to-use productivity software, and powerful database and business applications. By combining the tremendous power of the Internet and the PC and by empowering every member of the school community to support school goals, a digital nervous system can help districts become more efficient, improve strategic decision-making, increase parental involvement and, most important, set the stage for improved student learning.
Gates said that ultimately talented, creative teachers are the key to the effective use of technology in the classroom and called for schools to make teacher training a top priority. Gates highlighted Microsoft’s teacher training initiatives and announced that more than 1 million teachers worldwide have benefited.
Gates showcased educators in three diverse communities who are building digital nervous systems and using technology as a tool for learning. The country of Costa Rica is building a high-speed national network to connect all 450 of its schools; rural Laurel County, Ky., is benefiting from a statewide commitment to provide all students and teachers with access to technology, the Internet and e-mail; and in Lemon Grove, Calif., students as young as first grade are using basic word-processing and presentation software to help them learn early reading and writing skills.
Industry-wide Effort Tackles Challenge of Software Interoperability
Gates said that one major barrier schools face in building powerful technology foundations is that most school software applications, which manage everything from library check-out records to report cards, don’t work together. After making significant investments in software, school districts often face additional costs to input data several times and cannot compile and analyze data from different applications for reporting and decision-making.
To address this issue, Gates announced that Microsoft and 18 other leaders in the education software industry have worked together on a groundbreaking initiative to develop the Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF). SIF is a technical blueprint for ensuring that school software applications – such as library, cafeteria, transportation and student information management programs – share data and work together seamlessly and effectively.
“Having the Schools Interoperability Framework as an accepted K-12 specification is a big step forward for both the educational software industry and schools,”
“With software applications designed to talk to each other, school administrators will have easier access to information that supports the important decisions they make every day.”
SIF receives support from Microsoft as well as Chancery Software Ltd., Computer Curriculum Corp. (CCC), Follett Software Co., Jackson Software, Jostens Learning Corp., Learning Tools International, Misty City Software Inc., National Computer Systems Inc. (NCS), NeTel Educational Systems Inc., Nichols Advanced Technologies Inc., Pentamation Enterprises Inc., PhoneMaster, a division of U.S. Telecom, PeopleSoft Inc., SNAP Systems Inc., SRB International, Trapeze Software , TRO Learning Inc. and Winnebago Software Co.
During the session, AASA President Daniel A. Domenech, superintendent of Fairfax, Va., public schools, presented Gates with the first AASA Galaxy Award, recognizing an individual who, through vision, imagination, courage and leadership, is pointing the way to the future.
Microsoft’s leadership of the SIF initiative is part of its continuing efforts to help create a Connected Learning Community in which all students and educators have access to technology and information online to support learning today and for a lifetime. For more information about Microsoft’s K-12 programs for schools, visit http://www.microsoft.com/education/k12 .
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) 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.
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