By Alexa Joyce, Digital Transformation & Skills Director, Public Sector Education, Microsoft EMEA
As Bett 2022 opens its doors today, I wanted to reflect on how we are working with the education community to ensure educators, schools and all learners are equipped to succeed.
The global shift to remote and hybrid learning reshaped the face of education globally, changing how children are taught in schools and transforming how educators teach to improve student outcomes. Our cohort of Microsoft Showcase Schools and education customers are just a handful of establishments that are leading the charge in education innovation, driving positive change for their students, and adapting to the challenges and opportunities of the past two years.
Today, more than ever, it’s vital that all students have access to equitable education solutions, to provide each learner with what they need to reach their academic and social potential inside and outside the classroom. Educators too need access to solutions that help them accelerate the learning process, support social and emotional wellbeing and the development of literacy skills, and prepare all students for the increasingly more digital workplace of tomorrow. Supporting this, we recently announced the latest training programme in our partnership with Made by Dyslexia to help teachers spot, support and empower pupils to accelerate their learning.
We are also working with the National Association for Special Educational Needs (nasen), which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. To mark this milestone, nasen is partnering with Microsoft to take a “Digital First” approach to supporting all students and the wider education community to make education accessible and inclusive. To hear first-hand conversation on the need to address critical student needs with accessible solutions, join Annamarie Hassall, Chief Executive of nasen, alongside Hector Minto, Senior Technology Evangelist at Microsoft and Microlink’s head of education, Marius Frank, in discussion on Friday March 25 in the Leaders @ Bett Theatre at 11:50.
Inclusively designed tech in the classroom
The interruption of in-person learning environments affected many students but has particularly challenged those with specific learning needs. Every child needs access to adequate resources and support to fully engage in learning, alongside the tools required to unlock the potential of the diversity, skills, and abilities they bring.
Microsoft’s commitment to inclusion extends through product design to customer outreach and support. Our solutions enhance students’ learning experiences, and research-based inclusive learning environments provide each student, including those with special educational needs or disabilities, and pupils with English as an additional language, with access to the tools and support they need to unlock their potential, such as Immersive Reader. For example, Bishop Creighton Academy, with students that speak 38 different languages and a high ratio of students with special educational needs and disabilities, uses technology to support these pupils and ensure they aren’t left behind and they are able to thrive – you can hear from them in the Bett theatre.
Microsoft Education solutions support senior leaders, teacher, staff and IT teams in schools with trusted, secure and future-proof hardware and software options that are affordable, simple, scalable, and sustainable to meet the critical needs of education today and in the future.
With inclusivity and accessibility checks built in across our products and services, each student and educator can customise the type and level of support required.
Accelerating learning in schools
There are countless methods which schools and educators can adopt to help close the attainment gap and better prepare students for the workplace of tomorrow, such as real-time data insights, opportunities for immersive learning, access to devices and productivity tools. This academic year, Portsmouth Academy, part of the Thinking Schools Academy Trust, rolled out 1:1 devices to all its year 7 students and is already seeing the benefit across this age group. Hear from them in the Bett theatre about the impact and results they have achieved.
We know that more than two-thirds (69%) of UK business leaders believe their organisation is facing a digital skills gap. Therefore, ensuring today’s children have access to the right tools and technology from an early age is essential in helping close this gap in the years to come. To hear more, please join me and my guests on Wednesday March 23 between 12.50 and 13.15 in the Auditorium “Ahead by Bett” and read our Degree+Digital whitepaper discussing the importance of equipping young people with digital skills.
Education leaders are concerned about the learning gap, which has only worsened as a result of disrupted learning over the past two years. These leaders seek real-time insights that identify challenges and provide strategies to intervene, reduce impact, and achieve potential.
Microsoft is committed to addressing the urgent need for students and educators to catch up, keep up, and get ahead by providing solutions that accelerate learning through experiences, feedback and analytics, including digital reading tools to help ensure all learners can explore their full potential.
To help educators in helping students reach these goals, we recently announced a new Reading Coach experience in Microsoft Teams and updates to Reading Progress designed to help provide the best support for all learners and help educators save time.
Reading Coach automatically generates individualised exercises based on each students’ specific needs. Our new offering complements the current portfolio of tools supporting students in developing critical literacy skills, including Reading Progress, Education Insights and Immersive Reader. For more information on Reaching Coach and updates to Reading Progress, please visit this blog.
Fostering wellbeing in learning
It’s important educators focus on the wellbeing of students, which directly affects motivation, engagement, and learning. Students’ and educators’ social and emotional wellbeing has a long-term impact on success, health, employment and other positive lifestyle indicators. Providing education solutions that support social and emotional learning and contribute to overall student and educator wellbeing are essential in helping the education community create a foundation for equitable environments.
Microsoft solutions provide feedback and data insights on social and emotional skills, which are critical in building the self-awareness and self-regulation needed for effective collaboration and learning. Immersive learning experiences, such as Minecraft: Education Edition, also provide environments for students to develop skills to negotiate, share resources, and solve challenges, together.
Schools need secure and future proof IT
Technology solutions that are secure and trustworthy, including devices built to power all learners forward, are essential to unlocking digital transformation in schools today. Earlier this year, we announced the arrival of the Surface Laptop SE, which brings the simplicity and premium design of our classic laptop form-factor at the most affordable price point, designed to give more performance, choice and flexibility for students and teachers than ever before. The Surface Laptop SE runs Windows 11 SE, a new cloud-first operating system, designed to help students stay engaged in a hybrid learning environment.
When operating in a secure environment and on a trusted platform, educators and pupils are increasingly likely to participate and collaborate in their education. Additionally, with cyberattacks increasingly aimed at educational institutions, leaders are concerned about serious threats to data and digital security.
Microsoft is committed to student and educator safety, building solutions on the foundational principles of security, privacy, compliance, and transparency through partnering with school systems to empower them to achieve their vision and implement workloads on a trusted platform that will work today, tomorrow, and in the future.
Bett 2022, of which Microsoft is a partner, opens today at the ExCeL centre and runs for three days. For more information, please visit the Microsoft Hub at uk.bettshow.com.