MICROSOFT NEWS: Education Leaders Collaborate To Enable Equitable Learning

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According to UNESCO, more than 1.6 billion children worldwide lost learning opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although schools are now open in many countries, students continue to be quarantined. The differences in student learning are more evident when many students lack the resources and support they need to continue learning in school and at home. This gap must be bridged by education systems that have ambitious and strategic plans for learning recovery and continuous learning improvement.

UNESCO, ISTE, UNESCO and the World Bank all recognize the importance of digital tools for this purpose. The tools can offer flexible, personal approaches for students. Microsoft believes in the power of digital tools. They can transform education systems and support teachers and students. Our Microsoft Showcase schools (SCS )) and Leaders In Digital Transformation of Education(LDTE )) programs bring together forward-looking educators and technology professionals in a collaborative environment that allows them to share best practices and discover new ways to harness technology. We have uncovered key insights that facilitated participants’ success at the Microsoft Showcase School & Leaders in Digital Transformation of Education joint summits.

Device choice and availability matter

Effective and inclusive learning is highly influenced by the type of device students use. “It doesn’t matter what device you use. I have been going to educational technology conferences for years and was constantly told that it didn’t matter. It does, I would argue. It all depends on how you use them. But our students deserve a device which doesn’t hinder their education,” Jeff Gerdeman is the Director of Technology at St. Francis High School in USA, a Microsoft Showcase School.

Devices are key to accelerating learning because they provide insight into student’s progress, and their challenges. Jonathan Bishop, CEO at The Cornerstone Academy Trust, has stated that devices can help students learn faster by providing key insights into their progress and challenges. Broadclyst Primary School was one of Jonathan’s first schools to adopt 1:1 device usage in the classroom. Each student was provided with a quality device that is appropriate for their learning level by having it provided by school.

Data, insights, and AI-powered tools help personalize learning

Digital learning platforms, combined with learning analytics, can support every student’s journey by letting teachers view group progress and engagement along with individuals’ strengths and needs.

” We have heterogeneous students in our schools with different backgrounds, skillsets and goals. Our goal is to give teachers tools to personalize learning.” Pasi Silander, from Helsinki, Finland, says. Helsinki, Finland’s largest school system, was the first to create a digitalization strategy. This strategy dates back to 2016.. Helsinki was also a founding member in the LDTE program. AI and data analytics are used by the city to inform their education policies and determine which strategies will be most effective in boosting learning, allocating resources and unlocking students’ full potential.

Vusal Shahlarov, the Head of the Bureau on ICT for Education in Azerbaijan and another leader in LDTE, believes data and insights are essential for personalized and inclusive learning. “Everyone learns differently. To understand the learning patterns of each student, we need to know how they are performing. He says that digital tools are required to accomplish this. The Bureau’s participation in LDTE enabled it to launch a new analytics project to analyze learning patterns resulting out of remote learning. It did this for the Ministry of Education. The Ministry of Education uses data-driven decision making to improve learning, using AI and data. “We have a system that allows us to see how every student is doing in class and how they are performing in it,” Khanlarov says. Khanlarov says that we can even measure a student’s socio-emotional condition through surveys.

Teachers aren’t always open to technological innovation. It’s important to show them the value of new technologies. Khanlarov says that teachers need to see the benefits technology brings.

It is also important to humanize AI and learning analytics. Sir Mark Grundy, CEO at Shireland Collegiate Academy Trust, said that one way to achieve this is to allow teachers to see their students through the data. People change when they see children in data. He says that if they only see numbers they don’t see children. Sir Grundy’s team used Power BI for each student to be displayed alongside the data being used to assess performance. This allowed teachers to “feel” technology’s impact and to associate the better outcomes with real learners.

Driving scalable transformation requires a community of peers and mentors

Microsoft Showcase Schools and Leaders in Digital Transformation of Education are spreading innovation and proven approaches to success with local context.

Thomas Clarkson Academy is located in one of the most deprived areas in the UK. This area has low socioeconomic status and social mobility. TCA’s Director of Digital Technology, Trevor Jones, said that the school’s digital transformation was accelerated after it joined the Microsoft Showcase School Program. Trevor states that the Microsoft Showcase School program gave them access to an international support network. This included events, help, hints, and tips, as well as access to help and hints.

“We have transformed education through staff and student IT skills; improved workflows; organization; working smarter; collaboration; security (GDPR); sensitivity labels; Flows; Power BI and insights that provide data analysis and automation; a staff information hub, and making a jump to the cloud.”

Trevor adds, “We’ve harnessed the collaborative tools Microsoft provides to lead training across our entire Trust and establish cross-school and cross-phase partnerships.”

Participants in both the Microsoft Showcase Schools program and the Leaders in Digital Transformation of Education program haven’t just driven transformational strategies in their own systems. They’ve helped others develop strategies. Leaders around the world have the opportunity to share their knowledge and help students achieve digital transformation at scale.

Learn more and self-nominate to participate in the Leaders in Digital Transformation of Education program: https://aka.ms/ldte

To discover and connect with Microsoft Showcase Schools worldwide and learn more about the Showcase School program, visit https://aka.ms/scsp

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