Bill Gates Charts New Course for Learning
SEATTLE – Microsoft Corp. Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates today addressed school and education technology leaders from across the United States and Canada, challenging them to work with industry and government to address some of the most pressing issues at the heart of the national education debate. During a keynote speech that closed the Connected Learning Community Technology Summit, Gates shared his belief that technology in the hands of great teachers is the single most powerful tool to improve student learning, create more agile and accountable schools, and increase parent and community involvement in education.
“We are charting a new course for learning,” Gates said. “Taking the power and adaptability of the PC, and fusing it with the leading thinking of educators, we can help transform the learning experience for every child.”
In his keynote address Gates emphasized teachers’ need for smart tools and training to empower more content-rich and collaborative classrooms. He introduced the new Microsoft® Encarta® Class Server, a one-of-a-kind Web-based curriculum management platform that is the first Microsoft product designed specifically for educators. Gates also announced that Microsoft is supporting the training of 1.5 million classroom teachers this school year through the Microsoft Classroom Teacher Network.
The Connected Learning Community Technology Summit is particularly timely in light of the current dialogue among representatives from Congress, the White House and the American people on the future of education and the rapid evolution of the classroom. “I’m encouraged that education is once again leading our national conversation,” Gates said. “Educators, government and industry must work together to retool our educational system so we can propel our society into the Knowledge Age.”
More than 500 educators from over 250 school districts led and participated in sessions on teaching and learning, technology management and planning, and school leadership during the intensive, three-day conference in Seattle. The summit was organized by Microsoft and sponsored by Compaq Computer Corp., Dell Computer Corp., Gateway Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Toshiba America Information Systems Inc., Computer Systems Group.
The educational issues discussed at the event are ones that Microsoft is addressing through its products, programs and relationships, including teacher professional development opportunities, student access to technology, parental involvement and accountable school management.
Smart Tools and Training for Teachers
According to the U.S. Department of Education*, only one in three teachers feels prepared to use computers and the Internet for instruction. In the classroom, however, technology is used not only for personal productivity and administrative purposes, but also as a tool to help students read, write, and apply critical thinking and problem solving. To dramatically expand professional development opportunities for teachers, the Microsoft Classroom Teacher Network provides hands-on workshops, online tutorials and resources as well as grants to training centers across the nation. This year, Microsoft is supporting more than 800 training sites with software donations totaling $56 million (estimated retail price).
In addition to training, Microsoft is building tools to help teachers integrate technology into the overall teaching process. Encarta Class Server allows teachers to manage online five major teaching areas: curriculum standards, lesson plans, content, assignment and assessment. This new platform for K-12 schools combines high-quality educational content from leading publishers with anytime, anyplace access for teachers, students and parents.
Building 1-to-1 Access in the Schools and Engaging Parents
In today’s classrooms, the average ratio of students to Internet-accessible computers is 9-to-1, according to the U.S. Department of Education*. Microsoft, in conjunction with Toshiba, Compaq, Intel Corp. and other industry leaders, is helping schools, communities and parents drive this technology access ratio down to 1-to-1. Over 125,000 students in more than
800 schools participate in the Anytime Anywhere Learning program, which provides students and their teachers with their own notebook computers 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at school and at home. Research*** of this learning model shows that students write better and collaborate more on projects, educators spend less time lecturing and more time with students, and parents become active participants in their children’s education.
Many administrators are considering introducing wireless handheld devices such as the PocketPC into curriculums, and Microsoft is conducting pilot programs to determine the potential for these products in education.
Microsoft Encarta Class Server will not only improve how teachers manage their curriculum and assignments, it will also allow parents to become more involved in their children’s learning. At the discretion of the school, parents can have access to their child’s assignments page, which includes upcoming homework, graded projects and teachers’ comments, without creating more work for the teacher.
Creating Agile and Accountable Schools
Education leaders face many challenges in building and supporting agile and accountable schools. Administrators collect a great deal of student data, but all too often have no tools to correlate and analyze that data for better decision-making and continuous improvement of their schools. A key barrier has been the interoperability of school software applications. In response to this growing challenge, Microsoft and more than 100 education software developers are working on the Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF), an innovative technical standard that will enable school software applications – such as student information, library, transportation and food service systems – to share data.
The Connected Learning Community Summit and Microsoft education programs are part of Microsoft’s continuing commitment to helping every school build a Connected Learning Community where students have access to learning any time and any place. More information on Microsoft education initiatives is available at http://www.microsoft.com/education/.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software –
any time, any place and on any device.
* U.S. Department of Education National Center for Education Statistics (1999)
**Report of the Web-Based Education Committee “Power of the Internet for Learning” (Dec. 2000)
*** Rockman, et al., “Laptop Use and Impact in the Context of Changing Home and School Access Third-Year Study of Anytime Anywhere Learning” (1998-1999)
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