Guest post by Anthony Salcito, Vice President of Education
I always get excited when the topic of education is discussed – whether I'm having that discussion with students, teachers, or some of world's most innovative educators and government leaders. This week, I'm in London for the Education World Forum (EWF) and the British Education Technology & Training (BETT) Show, two of the most important education events of the year. I will be sharing information from both the EWF and BETT throughout the week, both right here and on Daily Edventures.
The EWF, which began on Monday, January 19th, is the largest gathering of national ministers of education and skills ministers in the world. This invitation-only event's mission is to inspire top-down change – a critical step in remaking our education system for the 21st century. This year, more than 80 education ministers are sharing and debating policy developments in education. I was honored to speak with this elite group during the keynote.
At Microsoft, education transformation has been an integral part of our mission as a company for decades. We know that a well-educated workforce is the best way to ensure economic and social advancement, and our goal is to help each individual student reach his or her unique potential.
While technology is making education – whenever, wherever – a reality through 1:1 computing programs and the proliferation of lower-cost devices, there are still a multitude of challenges that must be overcome. The issues are complex, and there is no one right answer, but we do know that partnerships between the private sector, governments and NGOs are essential to driving change and finding solutions. When we all join together to find the solutions needed to build a holistic approach to education reform, magic happens.
For our part, Microsoft strives to innovate and create products that educators and students love. We believe that teachers are the single most important force in transforming education, and we work hard to deliver training and support to help them. Help in the form of OneNote, for example. When Microsoft first introduced OneNote more than a decade ago, we knew it was something special – and educators enthusiastically told us as much. In December, we launched the OneNote Class Notebook Creator app, which takes OneNote a step forward by letting teachers set up a personal workspace for every student, a content library for handouts, and a collaboration space for lessons and creative activities — all within one powerful notebook. OneNote Class Notebook Creator is now available in over nearly 60 languages.
Just last week, we announced OneNoteforTeachers.com, a brand new site developed exclusively for educators who are using OneNote for the first time. The site is designed to help these educators master OneNote in about an hour without any cost to them or their school. For more information on this great new training tool, click here.
While OneNote helps more educators spend less time on paperwork, and more time on the business of learning, it also provides a personalized learning tool for students of all shapes and sizes, including those with learning challenges. In France, NGO Ordyslexie has created a tool based on OneNote designed to help students who struggle with dyslexia.
"Dyslexic children don't just mix up letters," says Dennis Masson, Ordyslexie Association President. "They struggle when it comes to automating language. Language in a broad sense: reading, writing and organization. This difficulty causes children to be distracted by language and not concentrate their attention on the task of learning."
With the Ordyslexie/OneNote solution now in the hands of over 1400 students in France, teachers, parents and students are reaping the benefits of OneNote. "Up until now [students with dyslexia] always felt as if they were running behind, staying behind in class during break time, when the teacher is available," says Anne Raulet, head teacher at Grandes Motte Middle School. "Now, they're on track. They have really thrown themselves into their classes. And that, that is a fundamental change."
At Microsoft, we believe that a quality education is a fundamental human right, and we are honored to work directly with the ministers of education and their delegates to reshape education for future generations. There is much to do, and the work ahead will not be easy. But whether you're a teacher, a school leader, a parent, a government official, an entrepreneur, an NGO, or a large global corporation, we must all do our part to make a difference.
I hope you will follow along this week, as I share many great announcements such as the Moodle with Office 365 integration that we just announced. Lots happening in London this week….Stay tuned!