Five hundred people from nearly 80 countries, all gathered together for one common purpose: to celebrate the world’s most innovative educators. The Partners in Learning Global Forum 2012 in Prague has arrived, and I have been honored to be amongst this illustrious group.
Ten years ago, Microsoft began the Partners in Learning (PiL) program with the passionate belief that technology would play a pivotal role in the advancement of education. PiL grew from a small, locally-focused group of educators into what today is a global network of more than 11 million members. From schoolhouses in sub-Saharan Africa, to university campuses in the US and Europe, PiL strives to give educators the tools they need to advance learning for the 21st century. I believe our mission today is more important than ever. We have witnessed a seismic shift in the world of education over the past decade. Quite simply, the learning paradigm has transformed, and together we are exploring a radically changed landscape.
That’s why I’m thrilled that yesterday, Laura Ipsen, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Worldwide Public Sector, announced an additional $250 million in funding to extend and expand Partners in Learning over the next five years. This funding will help ensure that our global network of innovative educators will have the resources, attention and energy it deserves to continue our collective mission. It allows us to continue and evolve the essential programs of the PiL network, and also helps us to bring new programs to the network to help educators develop even further. I’d like to highlight just a few of the exciting new programs you will see as part of the PiL network this coming year:
• The Expert Educator Program: An exclusive one-year program created to recognize pioneer educators globally who are using technology to transform education. The Expert Educator Program is a full-scale professional development program where teachers are provided comprehensive professional development, access to the latest technology for their classroom, training from the world’s foremost academic and Ed Tech thinkers, and an unparalleled international community of educators.
• Microsoft Innovative Schools World Tour: As powerful as virtual sharing is, we know that there is substantial value to showing policymakers, government and decision makers innovative schools in person. The World Tour program takes a select group of schools and shares their model for success with senior decision-makers. Schools are chosen for their innovative practices as well as their technology, student, teacher and environmental focus. NGO partners that are passionate about driving 21st century teaching and learning will conduct the tours.
• Teaching with Technology (TwT): TwT is a new, online professional development curriculum for teachers, which is aligned with the UNESCO ICT Competency Framework for Teachers. The TwT curriculum contains over 40 hours worth of content that covers how pedagogy and technology combine to create powerful and concrete learning outcomes.
• The Teacher Initiative (TEI): TEI is a higher education workshop with a series of modules that have been developed for several content areas (currently math, science, social studies and literacy, as well as TPACK). TEI specifically focuses on college or university School of Education (SOE) faculty, and aims to help SOE faculty better integrate technology into their teaching of pre-service teachers. The result will be an arsenal of technology users in higher education. For new teachers to fully utilize cutting-edge technologies in their classrooms, they need to use those technologies when they are students themselves.
• Innovation Hot Topics: This is a new blog forum on the Partners in Learning Network that focuses on the topics that school leaders and educators are most concerned about. Topics can range from leadership, to project-based learning, to virtual learning environments. The blog will be owned by some of the leading experts in education who will share their knowledge and real-world examples through this community.
I am especially proud that at Microsoft, we believe it is the educators and students – not the devices – that will be the true innovators. By renewing the pledge to PiL, Microsoft supports the vital work of teachers, administrators and policy makers throughout the world. In fact, at the PiL Global Forum today, we held the Education Leader’s Briefing. This part of the Global Forum gives participants the opportunity to directly experience the best global examples of 21st century teaching and learning. During the event, Microsoft and the British Council recognized three outstanding Young Education Leaders who have contributed significantly to the development of globally aware, globally competitive young people through the innovative use of technology in education. It’s young leaders like these three that will help us continue to innovate and advance education, and I am excited to share more about their stories. You can follow the event at our facebook page here
And as you may know, I have been on a blogging journey this year called Daily Edventures. Over the course of 2012, I have talked with an “everyday heroes in education” each day. We’ve covered over 75 countries and met students, teachers, ministers of education and rock stars. Check out my current post with Bill Gates sharing his thoughts on the importance of great teachers. I’m happy to say, Daily Edventures will continue – and will grow — in 2013. I promise to share more about our evolution for the next year soon, so stay tuned!
Finally, I’m very proud of what Partners in Learning has accomplished, and being at the Global Forum has reminded me of just how powerful a committed group of people can be together. It’s a great time to be an educator, and I’m excited about the possibilities the next five years will bring.