School of the 21st century

As we discussed extensively at the ‘Youth, the Key to Europe’s future’ event in Brussels on 22nd of January, today’s educators face some tough challenges as they work to prepare students for the 21st century workplace. Microsoft and its partners are helping them make the grade.

From primary school to university, educational institutions of all sizes are facing new challenges alongside age-old concerns. And the issues extend far beyond the college gates. According to Eurostat, the youth unemployment rate for the EU-27 was 22.5 per cent in July 2012, with globalisation and advances in technology creating a demand for skills and knowledge that many young people simply don’t have. More than 50 per cent of today’s jobs require some technology skills, and IDC says that will increase to 77 per cent in the next decade. In an unstable global economy, closing that knowledge gap is essential to recovery.

Employers increasingly expect digital literacy and other 21st century skills such as communication, collaboration, creative thinking and problem-solving. This drives the demand for a highly-equipped teaching force that can personalise instruction and address the needs of every student. Education is a key differentiator, and we are seeing many initiatives with governments and departments of education to ensure that people leaving education have the skills and employability they need in the workplace. The recently launched ‘Rethinking Education strategy’ by the European Commission outlines both the importance and the need for a change of paradigm of European educations systems. Amongst other key priorities, the European Commission is indeed calling for stronger focus on developing transversal skills and basic skills at all levels, especially entrepreneurial and IT skills, for investments to build world-class vocational education and training systems and increased levels of work-based learning and outline the role of Technology in schools, universities and vocational and training institutions, which purpose is to increase access to education via open educational resources.

Our IT Academy program is helping to close the skills gap and prepare students for their future workplace.

To help every student realise their full potential, educators in primary, secondary or tertiary schools all seek to better engage their students. Every teacher must be empowered with the tools and resources to understand and engage every student at their own pace, in the right place.

With our Partners in Learning program, we help educators and school leaders connect, collaborate, create, and share so that students can realize their greatest potential. Communities are critical for learning, and teachers must connect with parents, administrators and students. Students must also connect with each other and even potential employers. Programmes such as the Microsoft Innovative Schools project are driving system-level changes and helping schools to create an environment that fosters 21st century learning and innovative teaching practices.

On top, our IT Academy program is helping to close the skills gap and prepare students for their future workplace.

As well as being robust, reliable and integrated, an education institution’s infrastructure also has to be agile and able to adapt to current and future needs as the imaginations of educators and students demand. These growing requirements ideally need to be met without increasing costs, for instance through our extensive Cloud offering with Office 365. IT efficiency is largely about delivering world-class IT management, data protection and network security for education institutions. Teachers, students, staff, and families need access to learning resources—at any time, from many possible devices—whether they’re in the classroom, the faculty lounge, at home, or on the road. This anywhere, anytime access makes collaboration on class projects easier and helps students get the individualized instruction they need. And with this greater access comes greater vulnerability, which can make it difficult to adequately protect sensitive information against theft, loss, and cyber attacks. We’re working with our partners to ensure that enterprise-level protection is built into education solutions.

In an increasingly competitive market, emphasising the positive factors of an education strategy is becoming more and more of a priority. The ability to build and grow a good reputation in education can help ensure a healthy future for students, employers and institutions, and technology is becoming a major factor in this. Efficient analysis is crucial to success here. Competing effectively is an area of tremendous importance in education today – not just in terms of attracting the best students in the higher education space, but also in terms of powerful analytics capabilities for institutions to drive effectiveness.

Our commitment is to the success of each educator and student. Microsoft partners with education communities around the world to deliver relevant, effective, and scalable technologies, services and programs that focus the contributions of many on improved learning outcomes for all.

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