Opening the Windows to educational success

Anthony Salcito, Vice President, Worldwide Public Sector Education

Anthony Salcito 2014
Anthony Salcito 2014

We all know the vital importance of education in ensuring successful paths for students today to become leaders, innovators, teachers and even future job roles that we can only imagine today. This is why I’m especially excited to be in Australia this week for the EduTECH conference in Brisbane.

The conference is designed to provide opportunities for educators throughout Asia Pacific to experience firsthand the incredible opportunities that technology currently offers to help students achieve more and become better prepared for the workplace of tomorrow.

You may have seen today we announced  that Windows 10 will be available on July 29 and will help students and teachers be more productive and have more fun, with a personal and natural experience that works across all their devices.

Today’s announcement builds on last month, where we announced the Windows 10 Education. Windows 10 Education builds on Windows 10 Enterprise, and is designed to meet the needs of schools – teachers, students, staff, and administrators. Beyond the rich functionality of Windows 10 Enterprise, this edition has the ability for schools and students to perform an in-place upgrade from Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro to Windows 10 Education.

Windows underpins deeper, more purposeful learning experiences across a vast range of devices, and optimises 21st century learning experiences for students through a wide range of apps, cloud services and programs available from both Microsoft and its partner ecosystem.

Make no mistake that the workplace of tomorrow is going to be very different from the workplace of yesterday, and even today. The jobs will be different and the manner and the place in which we perform those jobs will also be different.

For the jobs of tomorrow, employers are looking for what we call the three Cs – Communication, Collaboration and Creation – with research showing that the most required skills across all occupations will include oral and written communication, attention to detail, customer service focus, organisational skills and problem solving.

Our challenge is that the way we teach and prepare students for those jobs of the future has remained largely unchanged in recent times, meaning many students complete their education not fully equipped for future success.

Having said that, over the past few years there’s been a quiet revolution taking place which sees some schools taking advantage of the exciting technology opportunities on offer and giving students a head start in the race for educational excellence and workplace relevance.

One such school I am looking forward to visiting is one of our Microsoft Showcase Schools, Campbelltown Performing Arts High School in NSW. Enabling students to learn at their own pace is vital to 21st Century Learning and Campbelltown Performing Arts College has taken it one step further with impressive results.

In their Circus class, students help to create the curriculum requirements and use collaborative learning tools such as OneNote to mark each other’s work. This peer to peer feedback has given students the opportunity to give constructive and helpful comments lifting the overall quality of the class’ work.

At Microsoft we strongly believe in the partnership approach to education. We know that technology is a tool that opens up a world of possibilities, but we also know there is no single answer that will miraculously transform education. We – business, government, educators, students – must work together in partnership to discover the solutions. Companies like Microsoft have the technology while teachers and schools have the expertise and experience to harness that technology so that it becomes an essential and exciting part of a modern student’s education.

Already that new world is being explored by Australian schools exploring the Surface family of devices and the new range of apps available on the Windows platform through the Microsoft Store.

One example of are the two new Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3 devices that have an enormous number of features but it’s the opportunity for students to use old technology – a pen – that has proved a winner for some schools. At Victoria’s Westbourne Grammar School students are using Surface from kindergarten right through to Year 12. The school believes that handwriting remains an essential part of a student’s skill set so educators were initially reluctant to move from pen and paper.

However, the innovative pen technology with the Surface creates a digital pen that enables students to write in a normal fashion on the touch screen, while utilising all the advantages that come with a lightweight tablet such as sharing work with their peers and teachers through OneNote.

Hillcrest Christian College in Queensland is innovating to use the Surface 3 as part of a three year plan to rebuild the entire school teaching systems to drive 21st Century learning standards, which include giving students the ability to work from anywhere at any time.

Similarly with Perth’s Hale School, which finds invaluable the ability for students to use the Surface pen to sketch, plot and solve equations, just as they would using pen and paper. Teachers are also able to annotate students’ work during marking, with 80 per cent of all work being submitted and marked digitally.

Apps are increasingly playing a part in education, which it is why it’s so exciting to be able to offer a whole range of informative, engaging and collaborative apps through the Windows Store.

3P Learning, an Australian company that leads the world in educational apps, is migrating its highly regarded apps such as Mathletics, Spellodrome and Intoscience to the Windows Store, giving teachers, parents and students the opportunity to access informative and inspirational e-learning that is aimed at each student’s individual learning level.

Another Australian-developed app, Skoolbag , is helping to revolutionise the sometimes fraught lines of communication between school, students and parents. Skoolbag essentially removes the middleman – or in this case the risk of the vital permission note being found a day late crumpled in the bottom of a school bag. The app, which comes through Windows Store, allows schools to create their own customised content to provide parents with everything they need to know – from lunch orders to event information and brochures which can be shared through Facebook, Twitter, email or text.

It’s all part of Microsoft’s dedication to ensuring that education is a relevant, as effective and as exciting as possible, because today’s students deserve the best chance to prosper in tomorrow’s world.


Tags: , , ,

Related Posts