Schools across the globe are looking for ways to improve the educational experience and better prepare students for the workforce. We believe technology has the power to inspire and motivate students to learn and to help teachers manage their classrooms and curriculum more efficiently, so we are working with schools and key partners to ensure both students and teachers have the tools they need to succeed.  

Our technology is already very important for students. We commissioned an IDC study to gain a better understanding of how we can contribute towards well-prepared students. The study identifies the skills and competencies that will be highly valued by employers now and through the year 2020 and identified 60 positions with the highest growth and salary potential and the 20 most common skills required. Microsoft Office was listed as one of the top three skills for those jobs, along with are oral and written communication, and detail orientation. Helping students learn these professional skills early on sets them up for success in the future.

Dr. Agnes Slayman, the Superintendent at Chester County School District in South Carolina, believes one of the most important things educators can provide students is the skill set needed to compete in the professional world. She is working with Microsoft to deploy tablets to all the faculty and students within her school district, providing both professional development for teachers and educational and professional tools, like Microsoft Office, for the student body. She believes access to these tools and the latest technology not only benefits people personally, but that it’s also laying the groundwork for increased economic activity and productivity in the area.

“Tablets are bridging the gap between the classroom and the home lives of our students, which is really helping the learning process,” she said. “By using mobile technologies, teachers are becoming facilitators to the learning process, while students are constantly learning throughout the day with access to information they now have wherever they may be.”

Dr. Slayman also negotiated with a local Internet provider to place hotspots all over the county, giving faculty and students free Web access wherever they are. It’s this type of innovation that tangibly benefits students in the mobile workplace.

Another example of a school that gets the benefits of mobility is Seton Hall University in New Jersey. They have adopted Windows 8 and Windows Phone for its mobile computing program, which is increasing productivity, improving network security, and providing students with professional skills they’ll need for the workplace. The university also made the decision to standardize on Windows to help reduce IT support and mitigate ongoing maintenance costs, while providing comprehensive security, reliability and management across thousands of devices. By fall 2014, 100 percent of their students and faculty will be on Windows 8.1.

Along with tablet and laptop devices, Seton Hall equips incoming freshmen with the Windows Phone-based Nokia Lumia 900 and Office 365 for education. Windows Phone integrates with the students’ Windows 8 environment, allowing for a seamless transition and familiar interface when moving between programs and documents on both devices. These tools make the process of keeping up on academic work and connecting with other students and professors effortless.

These are just two great examples of how schools are using mobile solutions to benefit their students and teachers, but these educational advancements are happening across the globe. The Hong Kong Institute of Education Jockey Club Primary School provided each student a tablet with the Windows 8 and Microsoft Office 2013, installed with published teaching materials, including textbooks, classwork and homework, which allows the students to finish in-class exercises, online group discussions and homework. The University of New England recently moved 23,000 students and staff onto Microsoft Lync for real-time communications. It allows people to collaborate and communicate anytime from virtually anywhere, including via instant messaging, video conferencing and voice calls.

On top of the work we are doing with schools, we also have some great apps that both students and teachers can use to increase productivity and learning:

Khan Academy: This app is the best way to view Khan Academy’s complete library of over 4,400 videos on your Windows 8 device. We cover a massive number of topics, including K-12 math, science topics such as biology, chemistry, and physics, and even the humanities with tutorials on finance and history.

Kno: Kno, Inc. is an education software company on a mission to make learning more engaging, personal, and social for students. Find your books from our library of over 200,000 interactive titles for all grade levels from kindergarten through college. Kno is your entire backpack in one app.

McGraw Hill: The CINCH Learning app is the first program of its kind, allowing students to extend the learning experience by accessing content inside or outside the classroom. CINCH Learning combines the power of interactive classroom technology with McGraw-Hill’s proven, comprehensive curriculum expertise, and was developed in conjunction with Intel and Microsoft.

OneNote: According to ZDNet. OneNote is Office 2010’s Killer App in Education. You can take notes that save to the cloud so you have them when you need them. Whether you draw, type, click, or swipe, this app will shine on your Windows 8 device. On the go? Use a browser or one of the many OneNote mobile apps to get to your notes when you need them.

Skype: Skype is the always-on app that makes staying in touch easier than ever. Use Skype to be part of a global classroom and bring learning to a whole new level.

Stay tuned here for additional insight into business mobility across business sectors. For more information, be sure to visit the Microsoft Business Newsroom for updates on how we are innovating with businesses around the world.