This week, we're bringing together some of the brightest school leaders, policy makers, partners and experts in the Americas to explore the technology and tools that have the potential to revolutionize both teaching and learning. Between digital content creation and consumption in the cloud, global collaboration, social networking and mobility, real change is already happening in classrooms around the world. We'll be celebrating that progress, but just as important, looking ahead to the next wave of innovation that promises to reshape education from top to bottom.
Innovative Educators and Schools Lead the Way
More than 15 Latin American countries, along with the U.S. and Canada, are expected at the Forum, along with some of this year's class of Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) Experts and Microsoft Showcase Schools – a class we're thrilled to announce today. This group of over 800 teachers and over 150 schools represents the best of the best when it comes to using technology to reinforce critical 21st century skills. And even more important, they're driving real impact and outcomes. The group is significantly larger than last year's class – with nearly three times the number of educators and more than triple the number of schools – reflecting Microsoft's goal of increasing the worldwide pool of innovators and collaborators.
Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts – Transforming Teaching with Technology
Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts are selected each year based on their innovative use of classroom technology – from cloud storage to mobile and everything in between. They integrate progressive pedagogy with advanced technology to advance learning and better prepare students for the jobs of the future.
In being chosen, these education thought leaders join an exclusive global community dedicated to trying new approaches, sharing ideas and learning from each other. They receive free tools and technology, including Office 365 Pro Plus (along with an IT Academy certification); participate in cases studies, speaking engagements and content development; and are eligible to earn an all-expense paid trip to the Microsoft in Education Global Forum in Redmond, Washington next April, 2015. These experts not only advise Microsoft on technology development; they also advise other educational institutions and their peers on how to integrate technology in pedagogically sound ways – a key pillar (and differentiator) for Microsoft in Education.
The experience can be life-changing. Here's what just a few Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts have told us:
"The Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert Program has given me the tools and access to the most innovative teachers in the world, helping me become the teacher my students deserve."
– Todd LaVogue, USA
"The international projects and community of learners [of the Microsoft in Education programs] enable students and teachers to participate in global efforts and be inspired. These efforts make them proud as they know their work is important."
– María Lorraine de Ruiz-Alma, Dominical Republic
"The Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert experience enabled me to personally transform into the ultimate change agent for empowering education at the highest level. The opportunity to build vision with worldwide leaders and leverage a global educator community has inspired me to take new approaches for new possibilities with amazing tools like Office 365, Microsoft Educator Network free tools and resources, Windows Apps, and much more!"
– Joshua Sawyer, USA
Showcase Schools – Driving Institutional Change
Like Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts, leaders from Microsoft Showcase Schools have demonstrated a strong vision for educational change and have applied their vision to transforming whole schools. These leaders create an environment where both students and educators thrive by placing students at the center of their own learning and giving educators opportunities to embrace innovation in the classroom. Microsoft technology is deployed school-wide, and their experiences are shared with other schools – thus accelerating the pace of reform worldwide.
Showcase Schools share our belief that a 1:1 learning environment can have a profound impact not only on how students learn, but on measurable outcomes. They place a priority on having the right staff to drive innovation within the school — and, through collaboration, with other schools. They also value cloud-based solutions like Office365 for their ability to facilitate collaboration and communication – and for their role in reducing overall IT costs.
As Sir Ken Robinson, a keynote speaker at this week's Forum, has said: "For most of us the problem isn't that we aim too high and fail – it's just the opposite – we aim too low and succeed." These very special teachers and schools epitomize aiming high – and their work inspires us all to aim higher.
As we celebrate their achievements of the 2015 class of Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts and forge new partnerships with visionary school leaders and teachers from around the world, I'm incredibly excited about the future of education. Microsoft believes that every child deserves a quality education where he or she can become their best selves, and with school leaders and educators like these leading the charge, that ambitious goal is well within sight.