Some level of technology skills is required in almost every profession and job these days. A recent IDC report commissioned by Microsoft showed that global spending on IT will create 5.8 million new jobs by 2013…so what are we doing to make sure our students are prepared?
Today, we announced the donation of more than $4 million worth of Microsoft software to high schools in the State of Illinois to help students build technology skills and prepare for the workforce or college. To spur creativity, we are partnering with the Illinois State Board of Education to encourage kids to compete in a Web design contest called “bliink” to create a Web site that drives them to engage in their communities to protect the local environment.
Illinois, like many other states and countries, has recognized the value in investing in education to connect learning to workforce needs that will drive innovation, new industries and optimism for economic recovery. This challenge is part of Illinois’ Innovation Talent education program, a pilot project designed to connect schools with industry, government and community partners. They are pushing students to develop their analytical abilities by working on interdisciplinary teams to solve real-world problems using leading-edge information technology tools.
The software donation is made possible through our Microsoft Developer Network Academic Alliance (MSDNAA) program. With a complimentary subscription to MSDNAA, accredited high schools get licenses to use Expression Web and Visual Studio 2008 software. High school teachers and administrators can request a free subscription by emailing us: firstname.lastname@example.org. We also offer free tutorials and curriculum units that have been designed by teachers and tested by students in more than 350 high schools. The lessons have been mapped to national standards and include project-based learning experiences for students and assessment tools for teachers.
In the past 16 months, more than 1 million U.S. high school students have benefitted from Microsoft’s MSDNAA donations. You can see some of the students’ outstanding work here. We are really encouraged by the great feedback we are hearing about this program — ”more students are talking about working in engineering or technology after high school”…”the software really got me interested in technology, and interested in taking a more difficult technical course.” And that’s really the goal here…providing kids the foundation, the tools they need to imagine a new future, to connect to real opportunities in the workplace and to realize the power of technology.