Bett Asia 2017: Getting started with ‘future-ready education’

We live in a digital world and the march of technology is accelerating. So how do we best educate the next generation?

A World Economic Forum report predicts that over one-third of work skills regarded as important today will have been replaced by new ones by 2020. Imagine this – in less than three years’ time, a core capability like active listening will be pushed off the top 10 workplace skills by things like emotional intelligence.

Preparing young people for the economy of the future has always been the aim of public and private educational sector leaders. However, the speed and scale of today’s technological revolution will fundamentally change how it can be done.

As such, it has never been more urgent for stakeholders to come together and redesign our current pedagogical approaches so that our youth can be equipped with the skills and capabilities to succeed in a digital future.

For schools just embarking on their digital transformation journey, the path of designing such a future-ready education can be a daunting prospect.

While there is no one-size-fits-all transformation strategy for every school and institution, Microsoft and our partners have over the years collaboratively designed solutions that can serve as effective starting points to help you take your first steps into augmenting your instruction for the digital age.

Here are a few ideas to help you get started.

One productivity suite to rule all teaching and learning

Schools are institutions of teaching and learning, and any digital transformation strategy must support that ultimate end-goal. One of the easiest and most effective ways to get there is also one that you may be already familiar with, and use on a daily basis.

As the world’s leading productivity software suite, Office 365 is a staple tool in many education institutions’ arsenal. For example, millions of students around the world write essays in Word and create stunning presentations in PowerPoint daily.

With proficiency in Microsoft Office a ubiquitous prerequisite in today’s workplace, it makes sense for schools to regard it as an easy-to-use entry point to education transformation. The disruption to daily teaching and learning is minimized, and both teachers and students can hit the ground running with apps and services that they’re already familiar with.

Office 365 is so customizable that it is even offered as a full-fledged customized learning management system (LMS).

UK-based Learning Possibilities, for instance, has developed the first full-featured Learning and Collaboration platform built on Office 365 called LP+365. Based on research and over 10 years of experience, LP+365 is designed to drive positive education outcomes for learnings through an integrated suite of tools that enables resource sharing, communication, collaboration, and assignment management.

The British School Colombo in Sri Lanka is one example of how a school has used LP+365 to augment its campus with a digital toolkit. Since deploying LP+365, the school has seen visible improvement in its teaching and learning, driving positive outcomes for both instructors and students.

Best of all, a cloud-based suite like LP+365 is designed to be easy on the school’s budget – a critical consideration for educational institutions looking to do more with less.

Making your mark in STEM

The rising popularity of STEM subjects is testament to the forward-thinking mentality of today’s teachers and students. There is a growing demand for professionals in these fields across the region, and a good grounding in STEM also equips students in critical thinking and problem-solving skills necessary for a digital future.

For schools that prefer to take aim at one single subject as a starting point of digital transformation, there’s perhaps no better subject to begin with than the “M” part of STEM: Mathematics.

Math is one of the most important subjects for today’s youth, as it enables them to develop a solid foundation for future deep dives into more advanced engineering and technology disciplines.

However, many students also find math a challenging subject, and some teachers struggle to find new and interesting ways beyond pen and paper to maintain student interest and passion.

An increasingly popular digital solution is gamification. Australia-based 3P Learning, for example, created Mathletics, a captivating online learning space providing students with all the tools they need to be successful math learners, both in the classroom and at home.

Powerful courses aligned to curriculum maths standards across the primary and secondary years, matched with fun arenas such as Live Mathletics where students around the globe are connected to challenge each other, provide the comprehensive learning experiences that all students deserve.

At the same time, Mathletics maintains the balance between teacher-led instruction and independent, student-driven learning in maths classrooms. Teachers are freed from the burden of marking and reporting, with live student data provided that is represented using intuitive and dynamic visuals. This allows teachers to quickly and easily view student progress and improvement – while assigning targeted and personalised learning pathways to address the needs of each student.

Taking its mission of online education one step further, 3P Learning works closely with Microsoft and UNICEF to run the World Education Games, the largest free online education competition that attracts more than 6.3 million participating students worldwide!

eMathsMaster is another future-ready solution to improve student engagement in mathematics with the help of modern digital capabilities. Offered in three distinct versions, eMathsMaster is a full math-driven LMS that enhances personalized training for students, teachers, and even entire schools.

Students can enjoy a personal 24/7 online math tuition program in a step-by-step, logical process to ensure subject mastery. Bite-size modules make the system approachable and game mechanics ensure pupils are highly engaged with the system. Automatic reminders can be created to prompt pupils to complete tasks on time or to manage their learning schedule.

For teachers, eMathsMaster empowers non-math teachers to develop knowledge, confidence, and competence in delivering quality math classes, so as to ease teaching workload and free up more resources across the board – a crucial advantage in markets where teachers are in short supply.

eMathsMaster is also a comprehensive platform for school administrators, which streamlines administrative processes such as reporting, pupil management, in-house compliance and staff training courses, staff assessment and appraisal software, and more.

Bridge the digital skills gap with professional certifications

As students finish their higher education and prepare to apply for their first job, they need every advantage they can get. However, employers across Asia and the world report a technology skills gap between the candidates they meet and the jobs that need to be filled.

According to the 2017 IT Skills and Salary Report from Global Knowledge, skills gaps are a global concern. More than two-thirds of the 14,300 IT decision-makers surveyed reported a gap between their team’s skill levels and the knowledge required to achieve organizational objectives.

Beyond a university degree, professional certifications in key digital skillsets can help to build a skilled workforce that meets the needs of local employers and government tech initiatives. Examples include the Microsoft Technology Associate certification, or the Microsoft Office Specialist certification.

Students at Cheng Shiu University in Taiwan preparing for a certification exam.

Institutions like Kookmin University in Korea and Cheng Siu University in Taiwan are working with the leading provider of certification exam development, delivery, and program management service Certiport, a Pearson VUE Business, to enhance their curriculum with professional certifications.

The increased need to match employer needs with workforce skills points out the value of certification, and will greatly add value to any education transformation strategies.

These certifications validate and demonstrate students’ fundamental IT and software development knowledge, enabling them to better stand out in a sea of graduates and add confidence to their job seeking quest.

Transform operational efficiency with modern digital tools

As much as effective learning begins with the teachers and students, an education institution’s operational efficiency has an enormous impact on the delivery of academic programs and their eventual performance.

Colleges and universities are seeing a shift in student demographics, in which traditional and non-traditional students alike are seeking greater flexibility in fulfilling their academic and career goals. What’s more, as budgets contract and institutions become more accountable for student outcomes, they are looking to allocate more resources toward student-facing processes and strategic initiatives.

Campus Management’s CampusNexus is a next-generation suite that includes a cloud-based student information system, customer relationship management, as well as enterprise resource planning solutions and services tailored for the education sector. Educational institutions can easily keep up with the operational demands for better service and accountability.

For example, with CRM included in the system, schools gain a view of every department’s interactions with each student, helping to improve engagement and boost enrollment, retention, and career placement results. They also achieve greater visibility, insight, and process efficiencies across the institution through data-driven decision-making and advanced analytics based on Microsoft Power BI.

Today, more than 1,000 institutions in over 20 countries partner with Campus Management to transform academic delivery, student success, and operational efficiency.

This includes Singapore-based Raffles Education Corporation (REC), the largest private education group in Asia Pacific. REC implemented CampusNexus Student and its constituent portals to streamline and automate processes such as contract generation, attendance warnings, transcripts, auto billing of fees and more.

Within five months, the implementation along with best practice recommendations resolved the majority of the institution’s operational challenges.

Join us at Bett Asia 2017 to learn more

Bett Asia, the world’s leading education technology event, will return to Malaysia in November this year to facilitate high-level discussions on the transformation of education and enable educators to discover innovations that will inspire change.

As the Worldwide Partner of Bett Asia, Microsoft and all our partners mentioned above will be leading conversations at the show. We will be sharing insights and solutions in greater depth and detail, and answer all your questions about how you, too, can embark on education transformation.

Find out more and get your tickets at:

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