How Microsoft is boosting digital learning in schools with new tools, services


Combining the right tools and teaching expertise to transform education, the software giant, Microsoft has introduced a new set of educational products and services, inspired by teachers and students. The new tools, Windows 10 S, new experiences in Microsoft Teams, new features in Minecraft and mixed reality, as well as a range of devices suited specifically to education, according to Hakeem-Adeniji- Adele, Microsoft Nigeria’s Chief Technology Officer are expected to teach students imperative skills needed to master the changing dynamics of the modern and digitally transforming workplace. To help teachers get ready for the new school year,   he informed that Microsoft is hosting “Back to School LIVE,” an interactive set of online workshops, and tips to get the most out of new products like OneNote Class Notebook in Microsoft Teams, Minecraft: Education Edition and Windows 10 S. While encouraging Nigerian teachers to embrace the new tools,   he cited example of how Clive Gibson is making it his business to incorporate technology into his teaching, and reaping the rewards. For Microsoft, better education, combined with early access to the tools used in the modern workplace, could transform the Middle East and Africa’s young developing economies into the leading source of new workers in the global market. According to Adele, Gibson teaches physics to 11 to 18 year olds in Dubai, and builds his lessons in OneNote because he finds this promotes independent learning and allows all students to become more proficient in his subject. While technology impacts everything in classrooms from the way we collaborate, share ideas and connect with each other, to how we leverage content generated daily by students and teachers, he said that digital transformation in schools begins with the way students learn. This new way of collaborating has created a new learning context and paradigm for schools, students and teachers, he said. He believes that the impact is far-reaching; as it teaches students imperative skills needed to master the changing dynamics of the modern and digitally transforming workplace. As devices and technology become more accessible, and the capabilities grow, he said with optimism that   unlocking the potential for all students to learn, closing the skills gap and empowering the 1.4 billion students in the world to achieve more is possible. Shifting focus to the Middle East and Africa, where 60 percent of the population is under 25 and youth is the fastest growing segment, he informed that   said that it has never been more important to ensure that technology benefits the youth to become tomorrow’s leaders. Meanwhile, a new education survey of nearly 650 teachers in the Middle East and Africa, shared at the annual BETT Middle East 2017 event, according to him   found that these teachers believe school leaders should lead the transformation in education. Additionally, 50 percent reported that technology is used in their institutions. The majority said virtual collaboration is a key skill required by students, and 39 percent believe students who lack digital literacy skills will be limited in terms of career options. That’s why teachers like Gibson, according to Adele are finding innovative ways to incorporate technology into their classrooms and lesson plans. “With this approach, I have seen every student improve their grades. The ‘lower ability’ and ‘disaffected’ students also improve immensely,”   Gibson, said, adding that, “My vision is to have all students working at their own rate, some students need more time with new concepts and others will be able to move onto extension material. [In this way] students are taking control of their own learning and developing their research and critical thinking skills.” “New classroom experiences in Microsoft Teams build on this idea of collaboration and personalised learning. It becomes a digital hub for the classroom, where teachers and students come to collaborate and learn. “With tools like OneNote Class Notebooks and new assignment and quiz experiences, teachers can easily distribute content, grade work, personalise learning, and communicate with students, parents and staff. “This is all part of the ultimate goal to empower teachers and students to teach and learn through doing and exploring”, he explained. While great technology may not replace great teaching, he noted that it is essential that schools have access to the right tools that will help drive the most effective learning. Minecraft, he explained is a tool that has the power to transform learning on a global scale. By creating a virtual world and then exploring it, students can simulate the real world. Teachers in more than 100 countries around the world, he informed are using Minecraft: Education Edition to teach digital citizenship, inspire creative problem-solving and enable student-centred explorations across the curriculum.