Historically Black Colleges and Universities Adopt Microsoft Mentor Program To Offer Technology Skills to Faculty at Institutions Nationwide

REDMOND, Wash., Nov. 17, 1999 — Faculty from 12 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) gathered at Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach, Fla., today to participate in their first training classes as part of the Microsoft Mentor Program. Part of Microsoft Corp.’s ongoing commitment to higher education, the faculty training initiative is designed to offer educators the skills and resources they need to enable them to integrate technology into their classrooms and offices and in turn to share those skills to help their peers do the same. The educators from the HBCUs join more than 300 faculty in the United States, Canada and abroad, who already have taken on roles as Microsoft Mentors.

According to Ramon Harris, director of the Executive Leadership Foundation’s Technology Transfer Project (TTP), training these first educators to be Microsoft Mentors is the initial step in deploying a focused technology training initiative for faculty at selected HBCUs nationwide. The Technology Transfer Project was created by the Executive Leadership Foundation to match selected HBCUs with Executive Leadership Council member corporations and assist them in accessing and using hardware and software. As a host organization for the Microsoft Mentor Program, the TTP’s goal is to train Microsoft Mentors at more than 40 HBCUs this year, enabling them to put new technology skills into the hands of about 30 percent of their faculty and staff.

HBCUs participating in the first training session include Bennett College, Greensboro, N.C.; Bethune-Cookman College, Daytona Beach, Fla.; Fisk University, Nashville, Tenn.; Hampton University, Hampton, Va.; Jarvis Christian College, Hawkins, Texas; Lincoln University, Lincoln University, Pa.; Morehouse College, Atlanta; North Carolina Central University, Durham, N.C.; Oakwood College, Huntsville, Ala.; Talladega College, Talladega, Ala.; Wilberforce University, Wilberforce, Ohio; and Wiley College, Marshall, Texas.

“Mastering technology is key to the future success of faculty and students in today’s global workplace, but setting high expectations is not enough. Support and commitment from industry as well as the education community is critical to ensure that faculty are trained on how to apply the latest technology in an educational environment,”
Harris said.
“Because faculty use of technology is key to the transformation of HBCUs, the Technology Transfer Project is continually in search of effective and innovative training solutions for faculty. The Microsoft Mentor Program not only offers the resources and support needed to improve the technology skills of faculty, it also allows us to establish a process that will address training opportunities for an unlimited number of educators.”

Launched in 1998 with 20 faculty members from the League for Innovation in the Community College, the Microsoft Mentor Program offers training on the Microsoft Office Suite that enables educators to develop strategies and curricula for using the latest technology to enhance teaching and learning. To date, the program has helped train more than 300 Microsoft Mentors at institutions including the California Virtual Campus (Statewide Rural Region) the Appalachian College Association and the Minnesota State College and University system.

With the support of their home institutions, Microsoft Mentors are reaching K-12 and higher-education faculty to address their own regions’ particular technology training needs. The program’s goal is to train 1,000 Microsoft Mentors, each reaching at least 20 additional faculty, which will result in the training of more than 20,000 educators by the end of the 1999-2000 school year.

“Microsoft is dedicated to working with key higher-education and industry organizations to develop and support programs that provide faculty with information and resources essential for developing the skills needed to improve teaching and learning using information technology,”
said Roberto Bamberger, manager of faculty and professional development initiatives for higher education, Education Group, Microsoft.
“We recognize that faculty training and support are crucial for higher-education institutions. The Microsoft Mentor Program will enable faculty members to learn from each other, thus becoming more well-versed in applying technology and ultimately better at servicing their students by developing richer learning environments and activities.”

HBCUs Welcome New Training Opportunities

Margaret Massey, vice president of technology and chief information officer at Bethune-Cookman College, said training the first Microsoft Mentors will enable the college to solidify a coordinated training program that will keep its 130 faculty members on the cutting edge of technology. Bethune-Cookman, which already uses Microsoft software, will seek to show faculty how and why the integration of technology can benefit their classroom and administrative responsibilities. In addition to providing the resources and training courses needed to jump-start Bethune-Cookman’s faculty training efforts, Massey said, the Microsoft Mentor Program will help create a network of technology training experts for HBCUs to rely on and consult for further faculty development.

“The opportunity to join the Microsoft Mentor Program couldn’t have come at a better time for us,”
Massey said.
“We want to make sure our faculty and students are on the cutting edge, even the bleeding edge of technology, and this will really help us accomplish that goal. It would be possible for us to start up a mentor program on our own, but it would be much more difficult and we wouldn’t have all the added advantages that being a Microsoft Mentor school offers.”

Microsoft Mentors Train the Trainers

Assisting faculty efforts to integrate technology into instruction continues to be the single most important information technology issue facing colleges and universities, according to new data from the Campus Computing Project ( http://www.campuscomputing.net/ ). According to the 1999 Campus Computing report, 39.2 percent of colleges and universities surveyed identified instructional integration as their institutions’
“single most significant IT challenge,”
up from 33.2 percent in 1998.

“The survey data documents the growing campus awareness that the key IT challenges in higher education involve people, not products,”
said Kenneth C. Green, director of the Campus Computing Project.
“Two decades after the first desktop computers arrived on college campuses, we have come to recognize that the campus community’s major technology challenges involve human factors – assisting students and faculty to make effective use of new technologies in ways that support teaching, learning, instruction and scholarship.”

Microsoft Mentors receive two days of free training on the Microsoft Office Suite to help them develop and expand their existing technology skills for efficiently managing classes, enhancing the educational experience and integrating collaboration and Web tools into the development and management of online classes. The training workshops offer tools and support that emphasize solving educational problems rather than focusing on features in software tools. Building on their basic knowledge of technology, Microsoft Mentors are enhancing core technology skills to share with others, including the following:

  • Integrating word-processing, spreadsheet, database and presentation software into classroom lessons and administrative responsibilities

  • Integrating the Internet into research projects and communication

  • Using e-mail to enhance collaboration and improve communication among faculty and students

  • Creating interactive course Web sites

  • Managing online classes using collaborative tools such as whiteboards, chats and Internet conferencing

Microsoft Mentors share the skills they’ve learned by training faculty members in their home regions, with an emphasis on small or underserved institutions. The program’s goals include sharing strategies for improving education through the use of technology, building relationships with other educators and the community, exchanging information regarding teaching and learning with technology, discussing technology solutions and exciting participants about future technologies and their application toward teaching and learning. Some Microsoft Mentors are teaching faculty to build their own Web pages for online classes; others are discussing effective e-mail management or tracking student progress using a spreadsheet. More information about the Microsoft Mentor Program is available in an online guide, http://www.microsoft.com/education/training/mentor/default.asp , that explains the program and its benefits, program requirements, and the information necessary to host a workshop for training Microsoft Mentors.

About the Executive Leadership Council and Foundation

The Executive Leadership Council and Foundation are both headquartered in Washington, D.C. The council is a national membership organization representing a cadre of senior-level African-American executives of major U.S. companies. The foundation is a nonprofit organization established as an affiliate of the council to promote and implement charitable and education activities.

About Microsoft

The Microsoft Mentor Program is part of Microsoft’s effort to help colleges and universities build 21st-century campuses in the Connected Learning Community, where learning isn’t limited by walls, material on a library’s shelves, credentials of a university’s faculty, or the usual barriers of time, distance, convenience and access. Microsoft has supported HBCUs since 1995 with donations through the United Negro College Fund totaling approximately $24 million in cash and software.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software – any time, any place and on any device.

Microsoft is a registered 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.

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