Shape the Future – An exciting model for reforming education
For years, Microsoft has been working with governments to help large scale transformation of education. Since 2007, one of the key elements of that work has been the Shape the Future program.
Shape the Future is Microsoft’s vision for bringing together the vast network of assets available to help governments achieve their education reform goals – assets that come from Microsoft as well as programs, technologies, support and other pieces of a solution that might come from other public or private partners.
First and foremost, Shape the Future is about partnerships – partnerships that combine a full ecosystem of participants and stakeholders. Often a Shape the Future solution will include more than ten partners – from telecoms to banks, from retail partners to NGOs, from government ministries to local software/hardware and education companies. Together these unique public-private partnerships craft a unique solution for a specific government need.
Using this approach, Microsoft has successfully deployed Shape the Future solutions in over 50 countries touching more than 10 million students, educators and families.
Prioritising digital literacy must be a shared commitment to meet local needs, the European Commission’s Digital Agenda acts as a useful signpost for the journey.
While every Shape the Future solution has a device at the heart of the solution, it is the other pieces of the puzzle that differentiate Shape the Future from the all too common approach of simply providing hardware to students and hoping for the best. Much of the added value of Shape the Future comes from the integration of all of Microsoft’s Education assets – world class teacher training and educational capacity building from the Partners in Learning program, local language assistance from the Local Language Program, customized IT training from the IT Academy curriculum and much more. In addition to the programmatic elements described above, Microsoft is also able to build out comprehensive solutions that include software components such as Microsoft Office.
One recent example of such a complete solution was the work the Shape the Future team did with the government of Portugal. In 2008, the Portuguese government saw the need to alter the course of the digital literacy and workforce readiness of school aged children. Working with Microsoft and a variety of public and private partners, the team created a solution that resulted in 500,000 students getting an internet connected laptop, but also included focused training for teachers, customized curriculum development and targeted educational applications for the laptop. Together, this complete solution approach has energized a new direction in learning across all of Portugal.
From the UK to the US, and from Azerbaijan to South Africa, governments around the world are seeing the benefits of such a holistic and comprehensive approach to realizing their digital access goals. And it’s not just about governments and educators and institutions – it’s also about children and their opportunities.
Some additional ways to learn more about Shape the Future can be found at: