As our culture continues to be dominated by technological innovation in our everyday lives and kids expect to learn in a digital way, its important educators feel comfortable and confident using technology in the classroom to help their students stay engaged in learning and reach their full potential. In a survey of U.S. teachers, 83% agree digital resources like classroom technology can help their students’ academic achievement, yet only 22% say they frequently use technology in the classroom. To help increase effective use of teaching with technology, we need to ensure teachers are proficient with the very latest technology tools.

That’s why we are excited to be working with the New York State Teacher Centers and Intel to rollout the Tech4Teachers Program. It’s a private-public partnership offering K-12 teachers in the state of New York the ability to purchase highly discounted personal computers (PCs) and Microsoft software, and provides tools and training to enhance their technical proficiency and professional development. The online store is open to all teachers, including those teaching in public and private schools, as well as pre-service teachers.

While New York is the first to launch this statewide teacher technology adoption and professional development program, our hope is for other states and teacher organizations to see this as a model they can bring to their local teachers.

Technology is being rapidly adopted in school districts across the country, but a very significant portion of a teacher’s daily work is done outside of the school building.  Therefore, it is important for teachers to have the same access to professional tools at home where they spend the most time developing lesson plans, grading assignments, and developing individualized instruction plans and communications to parents and students. Real benefits are transferred to students when teachers are comfortable using technology. So by increasing their confidence with technology, teachers can demonstrate their proficiency in guiding students toward the new and relevant skills they will need to succeed in an ever-evolving and competitive world.

Not only will Tech4Teachers participants be able to access Microsoft’s world class software, they’ll have access to professional development resources and curriculum available through the Partners in Learning Network. This global network of teachers and education leaders connects hundreds of classrooms and educators with training, content and exclusive software provided only to teachers. Other resources like the Innovative Teacher Toolkit introduce educators to engaging training on Microsoft Office to improve their ability to integrate Word, PowerPoint and other familiar Office applications more effectively into their curriculum.

The New York Tech4Teachers program is a continuation of our commitment to help close the digital divide by providing affordable access to technology to those who need it most. This commitment to educators builds on our Shape the Future pledge we announced last week at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting to bring technology access to 1 million low-income students and their families. We believe that a quality education is a right for all, not just a privilege for some. Microsoft has a long-term commitment to driving for quality access for students around the world. We know it’s not just technology, but the quality of a teacher, and the engagement of the parent that is going to drive positive outcomes for students.

Sig Behrens
General Manager, U.S. Education, Microsoft