I’ve been on the road the majority of this month for personal and business travel. I’m in Russia right now, but want to catch you up on my experiences in Puerto Rico.
The best part about my Puerto Rico visit was the amount of student and teacher interaction, as that is something I enjoy the most. During my visit, Microsoft announced an Education Alliance Agreement with the Universidad Metropolitana (UMET) in San Juan focusing on bringing a culture of innovation to the campus and providing the academic community with the latest software and technology skills. In addition to the University joining the Microsoft IT Academy Program, we celebrated the opening of the Microsoft Mobile Development Laboratory (photos below).
Mobile devices have certainly changed lifestyles around the world and new ways to use technology. Exploring and developing mobile applications is a huge opportunity for students who are looking at their careers and future employability. In conjunction with the Imagine Cup, students have been developing mobile applications to compete in the Latin America finals for a chance to go onto Poland…and they have some very different and creative ideas. One application was developed for ride sharing to help with not only lower environmental impact on carbon emissions and autos, but also to help students have outlets for safe driving, saving money, etc. The application is connected to GPS and mobile phones, so students can alert each other when they need a ride and create a social community.
The other mobile project I saw was called “Justice.” It capitalizes on the fact that most citizens have access to a cell phone and a camera…and if you can imagine turning all those cell phones and all those users into eyes and ears for a law enforcement official or an environmental protection official or a municipal government to identify when there is a traffic safety issue or a street lamp that needs repaired…you can put citizens on the alert so they can share and post alerts and track the status.
The students’ professor says the students are so excited about this mobile lab that they don’t want to go home, they want to work through the night because they are so motivated about the work they are doing and the opportunity to compete on the global stage…it’s brought a lot of energy to the learning experience for the students.
I also had the opportunity to meet with the Senate, and talk about ways in which the government is addressing change in education in Puerto Rico. It's great to see them thinking very holistically about embracing and approving resources for teachers, teacher training, and the way in which teachers are valued in Puerto Rico. They're thinking about things like digital access for all citizens and students.
And just like every government, they're thinking about the ways in which you can use data to impact learning outcomes and success rates. It’s great to see Puerto Rico open to taking lessons learned from the U.S. and other parts of the world and really thinking about very important issues.
I also meet with the Department of Education and visited a high school…I’ll share more on that in my next post.