All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?
If you’re looking for nostalgia, take a look at the Life of Brian script – which doesn’t start with the question you think.
I was talking to a teacher at the weekend, and when he heard that I worked for Microsoft in the Education team, he asked “What has Microsoft got to do with education?”. Well, that set us up for a long conversation.
It also left me wondering – how many other people in education don’t know how involved we are with the education system? Do they just see Microsoft as ‘the Windows and Office people’.
So, in no particular order, here’s a quick baker's dozen things that we have been doing, all related to learning
- Partners in Learning (PiL), which has invested about £2,500,000 into joint projects in the last three years, aimed at enhancing the use of technology within learning. All of this has been in conjunction with government agencies like the Training & Development Agency for teachers, the Scottish Qualification Authority or the Welsh Assembly Government. We’ve also been working with Futurelab too, and all of these partnerships have resulted in initiatives such as the next 5 things:
- Enquiring Minds, a joint research and development programme led by Futurelab aimed at developing ways in which schools can develop curriculum and learning methods appropriate for the needs of young people in 21st Century. The programme aims to place students at the centre of their own education, encouraging more personalised and enquiry-based learning, in line with recommendations made in the Gilbert Review of teaching. Browse the Enquiring Minds website for more information on the programme, and find out how you can get involved.
- Free curriculum resources, developed as part of the programme, available here, also available on a free DVD
- The Gateway Project – a ‘virtual’ school environment created to allow schools in England, France and Spain to work collaboratively on a shared curriculum. Developed in partnership with the TDA to support the teaching of Modern Foreign Languages in primary schools. The programme also helps support teachers’ continued professional development (CPD) around technology integration into teaching.
- Know IT All – resources for trainee and practicing teachers, developed in conjunction with Childnet, the TDA and Becta, to support teachers in dealing with e-safety issues in the school environment. The initiative helps teachers to better support and educate children around a wide range of e-safety issues in line with the Government’s ‘Every Child Matters’ agenda. Take a look at the resources available on the Know IT All website, which also includes resources for parents.
- The Educational Evidence Portal (EEP), developed in partnership with DCSF, Becta, CfBT, DIUS, TDA, NfER, LSC, HEA and others. It makes it easy to find educationally relevant research. For example, if you want to find out what research and evidence there is about the use of interactive whiteboards in classrooms, then EEP searches the partners’ websites, and produces a highly focused set of reports and reading materials, all based on UK education projects. If you want to see the true power of it, take a look at what Google gives you for “interactive whiteboards”, and then do the same search on the EEP portal.
There’s an excellent annual report for PiL, available here, which describes some of the work going on worldwide.
- Away from PiL, the Digital Literacy Curriculum, launched last month in partnership with learndirect, UK Online Centres and OCR. The Digital Literacy Curriculum is available free-of-charge to everyone wanting to improve their digital literacy skills, and is available through many learndirect centres, Microsoft IT Academies or local UK online centres. By linking with OCR, it also means people can achieve a recognised qualification.
- And coupled with the launch, Microsoft will provide one of its largest software donations in the UK, to around 500 UK online centres, worth between £3-6 million in the next year.
- We offer the Gwricwlwm Llythrennedd Digidol in Welsh too – funny, my spelling checker doesn’t like that!
- Oh, and we’re also converting the Digital Literacy Curriculum into free SCORM packages, so that you can load it free onto your school’s learning platform for students and staff.
- In the field of e-Safety, we work in partnership with the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP website) and Get Safe Online (website). Each year, volunteers from Microsoft give their time to schools and other community organisations to give talks and lectures about online safety for children.
- As a partner to the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust, we've provided sponsorship to help 100 schools achieve Specialist status, which unlocks further funding for them from the government.
- And finally, how about the work we're doing with schools and local authorities to help them to create new models of learning. Such as Bowring Community College in Knowsley, who are one of 12 schools worldwide which are part of the Innovative Schools Network (website) - their video tells the story better than I can. We're also working with local authorities on new models of learning as part of the BSF programme, and with individual schools to help them to find new ways to support learning using data visualisation (you can get a sneak preview of this on Alex Pearce's blog)