Microsoft Gives Teachers New Skills and Tools for Using Technology in the Classroom

REDMOND, Wash., Aug. 24, 1999 — Gail Schalk recalls the not-too-distant past, when she couldn’t imagine using computers with her fourth- and fifth- grade students at Seattle’s Montlake Elementary School.
“I knew it was important for my students to have computer skills, but I didn’t like the idea of using technology for technology’s sake and I wasn’t adept at using computers at the sophisticated level I knew they should be used.”

Schalk is not alone. According to Denver-based Quality Education Data, 99 percent of all U.S. public schools are equipped with computers and 89 percent have access to the Internet. But while the resources are there, teachers don’t always have the skills and training they need to use technology in their classrooms. In fact, a recent U.S. Department of Education study reports that four out of five teachers don’t feel prepared to use technology as part of daily classroom instruction.

To help educators get the training resources and skills they need to integrate technology into their daily classroom lessons and administrative duties, Microsoft is announcing the Microsoft Classroom Teacher Network, a free, online professional development community where educators can learn and share ideas all year round. Educators will be able to join the Classroom Teacher Network on Oct. 1, 1999, by signing up on the Microsoft Education Web site. (


This new offering adds to Microsoft’s unprecedented support of educators, a wide range of initiatives that includes workshops, free tools and resources, partnerships with government and educational institutions, and support of professional development programs.
“Microsoft believes that the most important use of technology is to improve education,”
said Bob Herbold, Microsoft’s executive vice president and chief operating officer.
“We are committed to working with schools, colleges and universities, other corporations and the government to ensure that teachers — our most valuable educational resource — have the opportunities and tools they need to make the best use of technology for teaching and learning.”

This summer, Microsoft supported a series of summer institutes to help provide a dynamic technology learning experience for 3,500 teachers from 11 states. These teachers are returning to their schools and classrooms this fall to make technology a part of lessons in regular subjects like math, English and social studies and share what they learned with nearly 100,000 of their colleagues.

“Technology has added a lot of energy to the classroom,”
said Kathy Steinbring, a 25-year teaching veteran at Lake Park High School in Roselle, Ill., who spent part of her summer break at the Moveable Feast, a training event co-sponsored by Microsoft and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The Moveable Feast offered more than 400 Illinois teachers a menu of technology classes where they learned to create their own Web pages and incorporate technology into their lesson plans.

“My students are more engaged in projects when technology is a part of what we are doing because they know how widely these tools are used in the real world — they see their lessons as more relevant,”
Steinbring said.
“It’s important for me to continue learning how to use technology so I can share that knowledge with my students.”

The technology training offered during the summer institutes and through online communities like the new Microsoft Classroom Teacher Network help teachers gain the confidence and the skills they need to make technology an integral part of the classroom — and inspire enthusiasm. Just ask Gail Schalk.

After participating in the Teach the Teachers summer institute in Forks, Wash., Schalk is ready to go back to her classroom this fall with new skills, techniques and tools and a new attitude about integrating technology into curriculum.

“I think my students will be over the moon when they see the kinds of projects they’ll be doing!”
she said.
“Technology training programs are utterly essential for educators, so they can learn how to use technology for real teaching and learning, not just using technology because they think they should. Learning how to use technology has enhanced my teaching philosophy — I have become a more effective, sophisticated teacher.”

This summer, more than 2,000 teachers participated in the Intel Applying Computers in Education (ACE) Project, a unique two-week-long program supported by Hewlett-Packard Company, Microsoft and Intel. The training incorporates the use of the Internet, Web page design and multimedia software. The Conference Board recognized ACE this year with its
“Best in Class”
Award for innovative corporate programs that improve primary and secondary education and show company leadership in their initiation, conduct and evaluation.

To date, Microsoft has supported the training of more than a million teachers worldwide. Through partnerships with the U.S. Department of Education, Microsoft has donated software and training materials to professional development programs, including a recent $1.2 million grant to the Navajo Education Technology Consortium (NETC) to ensure that Navajo teachers in four training centers and 50 schools have access to the latest technology. During the 1999-2000 school year, more than 450,000 teachers at 800 teacher-training sites at colleges and state departments of education will have access to Microsoft’s newest software and training tools and resources through the program. Since the program’s inception in 1992, Microsoft has donated more than $100 million in software and training resources to teacher-training sites throughout North America.

Caption: Through programs like the Classroom Teacher Network, Microsoft gives educators the tools and training they need to use technology effectively.

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