Microsoft Hosts Global Education Leaders at School of the Future World Summit

SEATTLE — Dec. 1, 2008 — This week, school administrators and policymakers from more than 30 countries are gathering in Seattle for the fourth annual School of the Future World Summit, hosted by Microsoft Corp.’s Partners in Learning. The theme, “What’s Possible,” will enable more than 250 participants to facilitate a global discussion on what schools in the future can look like by examining the areas of instruction, organization design, technology, the challenges of implementing new policy and emerging trends everyone faces as they prepare students for the 21st century global workforce.

“Educators today face many economic and political challenges, including decreases in funding in tough economic climates as well as the pressure to generate performance results that allow students to compete on a global stage,” said Mary Cullinane, director of Innovation for U.S. Public Sector Education at Microsoft. “We fundamentally believe improving education is a global imperative and strong investment is vital to our future success. This event will push people to collaboratively address new ways of thinking and provide specific strategies to implement within their local context, allowing them to turn possibilities into reality.”

Innovative Agenda and Speakers to Demonstrate the Possibilities

Summit participants will explore the evolving role of technology as a disruptor and accelerator in education and address factors that enable sustained change and transformative innovation in classrooms. Attendees will learn from education, business and policy leaders who will discuss what’s possible with systems, processes and integrated technology, specifically in this time of a global economic crunch. Leading speakers include the following:

  • U.S. Senator Patty Murray will welcome the international audience to Seattle and challenge the group to spend its time looking at what’s possible through collaborative community partnerships to ensure the needs of tomorrow’s global workforce are met. Murray, who has prominently focused on education as a core reform area, will showcase how investment in 21st century career pathways is critical to securing a bright economic and job future.

  • Michael Horn, co-author of “Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns,” will explore how disruptive innovation can and will change the way the world learns.

  • Randy Fielding, chairman of Fielding Nair International, a design firm focusing on creative and interactive learning spaces, will discuss the need to design environmentally responsive campuses that foster personalized learning and strong connections to the community.

  • Tony Wagner, author of “The Global Achievement Gap,” will discuss how we can better teach, motivate and prepare students for the 21st century workforce.

  • Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group, a global political risk research and consulting firm, and author of “The J Curve,” will discuss globalization, the effects on education, and the paradigm shifts happening across the world that will help countries think about how they want to invest resources.

Education leaders from around the world will share their best practices at the summit, including the following:

  • Australia. How teachers and students can create multi-lingual virtual Avatars and immersive 3-D learning environments in their classrooms.

  • India. Discussion on the right technology integration model and how educators can unleash the benefits of technology without getting in the way of educating their students.

  • Mexico. A solution to encourage teachers to share and leverage course content via the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement worldwide.

  • Netherlands. New learning strategies in a digital age where educators need to adapt to the uses of technology and how that affects students’ learning behavior.

  • Northern Ireland. How teachers can be creative and innovative in their learning and drive their professional development activities via e-Portfolios.

  • Singapore. The possibilities of emerging technology and its transforming teaching and learning effects at the elementary school level.

  • U.S. How the Web is forcing education leaders to rethink the ways they operate and the basic foundations of teaching and learning.

New U.S. Partners in Learning Resources Available Today

The U.S. delegation will also showcase an innovative approach to ensuring students understand the 21st century jobs awaiting them. CareerForward, a project that started in Michigan in partnership between the Michigan Department of Education, Michigan Virtual University and Microsoft Partners in Learning, is now being made available free in the U.S. Students, teachers and schools can implement it either through classroom instruction or individually. The media-rich online learning program helps to get students thinking about what they want to do with their lives, what types of careers they may want to pursue and what they need to do to succeed. Students who take the CareerForward course will be better prepared to embrace the global 21st century workplace by learning more about globalization, career planning, financial literacy and entrepreneurship. More information about CareerForward is available at

In light of the economy and recent surge in the number of partnerships between corporations and school districts promoting student achievement and workforce readiness, the U.S. Partners in Learning team is publishing a policy paper and sharing its lessons learned on the critical elements required for establishing effective and successful public/private partnerships. Case studies from Michigan, New Mexico and Washington state Partners in Learning projects are evaluated and candid feedback is shared on how businesses, government agencies, universities and school districts worldwide can determine whether to engage in a new partnership, and if so, how to advance beyond the image of just granting money to becoming a full and collaborative strategic partner.

About Microsoft’s Partners in Learning

The School of the Future World Summit is part of Microsoft’s Partners in Learning program, a global initiative under the company’s Unlimited Potential commitment designed to help increase technology access for schools, foster innovative approaches to education, and provide educators with the tools to manage and implement change. Since its inception in 2003, Partners in Learning has reached more than 123 million teachers and students in 103 countries. Microsoft employees, school districts, community members and government officials work side by side in Partners in Learning projects around the world. More information about Microsoft Partners in Learning is available at More information about the School of the Future World Summit is available at

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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