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When the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) opens the virtual doors of its Innovation Zone (iZone) Academy next year, it’s going to do so with Microsoft as its main sponsor for the initiative, which will draw from programs and services such as the Microsoft IT Academy and Office 365 Education.
A school without walls, iZone Academy, removes the physical barrier of being tied to any one building. This will be the first school in the New York City school system that will use multiple locations and partnerships with businesses, governments and communities to give students real-world learning experiences. The city itself becomes part of a child’s education – in a safe way that also meets the same standards as expected at other New York City public schools. The iZone Academy is scheduled to open in the fall of 2014.
The school is the latest development from the NYCDOE’s Innovation Zone (iZone). Launched in 2010 with 81 schools, this dedicated office supports schools in personalizing learning through innovation and technology to better prepare students for college. The program has now grown to 300 schools across the city.
Through this partnership, Microsoft will bring experts into classrooms through interactive technology thus giving students opportunities to gain valuable skills that translate to future jobs.
The iZone Academy is a significant step forward in building a model for other schools to be built without walls – and it couldn’t come at a more pivotal time.
The recent Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) revealed the latest global education standings – and the United States remains stagnant in reading, math and science scores, which have remained unchanged since 2003.
One way to help change that is through public-private partnerships. Corporations have an abundance of resources, programs and services that can help bring parents, teachers, students and schools together in coming up with innovative solutions. Microsoft has a long history of partnering with education organizations, stemming from the belief that every student deserves the best outcomes, should have a purposeful learning path, and be motivated and inspired by career options and the potential impact they can have on the world.
Through this partnership, Microsoft will complement the innovative work already being done in New York City schools to prepare students with the skills they need to succeed in college and in their careers. Skills such as communication, problem solving and Microsoft Office proficiency were identified in Microsoft’s research with IDC, as part of the top 20 skills students will need to succeed in the top high-growth, high-wage occupations now and through the year 2020.
The iZone Academy builds upon other educational initiatives such as P-TECH (Pathways in Technology Early College High School), the district’s first 9-14 model school developed in partnership with Intel. The 9-14 model spans grades 9-14 and focuses on a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curriculum that gives students a direct trajectory to jobs in these fields. Three new 9-14 model schools are slated to open next year, and one is a partnership between Microsoft and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. It will specialize in information technology solutions in the healthcare industry, through classes emphasizing computer information and systems management.
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Athima Chansanchai Microsoft News Center Staff