Recently, Microsoft announced a major step forward in our ongoing efforts to equip students worldwide with the technology and skills needed to ensure their future success.

Although only initially available in the U.S., I’m excited about the potential this represents for students around the world. With our global Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) partners, we’re working with governments to address their education and technology challenges, and that’s exactly what we’ll continue to do.

In the meantime, we’re continuing to make significant investments in education worldwide – in fact, our current investment in education globally through the Partners in Learning Network exceeds $750 million to date. But while Microsoft is a technology company, we know that technology itself will not transform education. This is why we’re focused on giving students the skills they need to prepare for tomorrow’s workforce through the right mix of products, services, training and resources. 

In the spirit of celebrating our successes, I wanted to highlight a few key examples of where we’ve been able to partner with governments around the world to solve their most pressing education-related issues:

Focus on Devices as the Enablers to Learning: Rather than support a one-size-fits-all approach to devices, we know that students, educators and institutions each have different needs. That’s why we invest in the design of great products with learning in mind that are affordable, scalable and easy to use, so schools can focus their budgets on enhancing learning outcomes. Recently, we’ve seen this approach come to fruition in several different settings.

Just last year, we partnered with Qatar’s Minister of Education to provide Windows 8 devices for every student and teacher on a national level – in total, 120,000 students and 14,000 teachers. And in Queensland, Australia, we partnered with the Department of Education, Training and Employment (QDETE) to create “Smart Classrooms” that have transformed the teaching experience for educators and the learning experience for students. Recently, as part of this initiative, QDETE was able to provide 14,000 Windows 8 tablets to students and teachers.

Learning the Right skills for School and for the Future: Office 365, a free and always up-to-date cloud productivity service, is used by 110 million faculty and students around the world.  Office 365 Education enables students to communicate and collaborate, access assignments, have notes synchronized in OneNote and have familiar Office applications such as Word, PowerPoint and Excel anywhere, across virtually any device. 

An additional offer for qualifying institutions is Student Advantage and in November, we announced an agreement with the Sao Paolo State Department of Education to offer Office 365 Pro Plus  free of charge to more than 4 million students through our Student Advantage program. Through Office 365 Pro Plus, Sao Paolo’s students can gain access to the full suite of Office applications such as Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote and Outlook, among others – the same set of services used by Fortune 500 companies all over the world.

Focus on Professional Development: In addition to technology access, access to quality professional development for educators is a critical piece of ensuring our students’ future. This is a key focus of our Partners in Learning– an initiative aimed at improving teaching and learning through relevant and scalable technologies, services and programs. By working with educators and school leaders, we are delivering a portfolio of professional development tools and resources focusing on improved learning outcomes for all. And we’ve made significant traction – through Partners in Learning, we have helped 12 million global educators to successfully incorporate technology into the classroom to enhance the learning experience for their students

We’ve also made investments in other areas as well. In 2013, we announced the global availability of the Microsoft Certified Educator exam to provide governments with a scalable solution that is mapped to an international framework of educator competencies. Through the Microsoft Certified Educator exam, we trained 5,000 educators in Russia and Ireland, utilizing the Teaching with Technology eLearning Curriculum, and with more than 3,500 educators sitting for MCE certification, the Open Education Institute of Moscow plans to certify 50,000 additional educators over the next three years with interest from other countries around the world growing daily.

Focus on Computer Science: Once students and teachers have the technology and training they need to succeed, it’s critical that attention is turned to the curriculum – what and how we’re teaching our students the skills they need to prepare for future success. In the UK, we’ve made significant progress in this respect through collaboration with publishing company Rising Stars. Through this partnership, we’ve enabled all schools in England to make computing and computer science part of the curriculum through new and exciting classroom resources, step-by-step teacher support and videos. With these tools, educators are better prepared to teach students the “computational thinking” skills they need to be ready for the workplace and able to participate effectively in our digital world – a vital skill for developing the entrepreneurs of the future.These are just a few examples of how we’re working with governments, communities, schools and educators to use the power of information technology to deliver technology, services and programs that provide anytime, anywhere learning for all. We’re continuing to make significant progress toward ensuring that all students have the skills needed to succeed in the workplace of tomorrow, and I’m excited to see what else is possible.

These are just a few examples of how we’re working with governments, communities, schools and educators to use the power of information technology to deliver technology, services and programs that provide anytime, anywhere learning for all. We’re continuing to make significant progress toward ensuring that all students have the skills needed to succeed in the workplace of tomorrow, and I’m excited to see what else is possible.

-Anthony

Anthony Salcito, WW Vice President, Microsoft Education