Technology to change role of teachers worldwide

What you need to know:

  • “Bing for Schools ensures students don’t see search ads when using Bing and also enhances their privacy by preventing the use of data to create ad profiles,” states a press release from Microsoft.

Demonstrations and announcements made at the Microsoft in Education Global Forum in Barcelona, Spain, from March 11 to 14, suggest that teachers around the world have to ultimately brace themselves for drastic shifts in the way they play their role.

Inevitably, technology is rapidly penetrating classrooms, with teachers in the more developed learning institutions taking to innovative use of ICT to facilitate learning. Many are adopting new applications that software makers are specifically developing for the learning environment.

According to school leaders, educators, and Microsoft Corporation officials and techies attending the conference, the reason this drive is considered inevitable is the reality that it is more demand driven than propelled by supply.

Microsoft Worldwide Education vice-president Anthony Salcito, asserted during his keynote statement at the official opening of the forum on March 12 that a good chunk of the present generation of learners all over the world is already exposed to ICT devices and applications that give them access to all manner of information outside of learning environments. For them to be positively engaged, teachers may have no much option but to follow and innovatively engage them on these platforms.

“Your students are learning without you. Your students are reading without you. Your students are collaborating without you. Let’s convert this reality of learning into an engine for change (in the way we teach),” said Mr Salcito, clarifying that educators now have to be coaches and mentors, and not merely instructors.

Now software developers are taking advantage of the trend and are coming up with new computer applications to facilitate this emerging role.

The applications are driven at getting the attention of the Generation Y learner, and at the same time helping the teacher to make learning more interesting, interactive, and in many cases, global.

An elaborate demonstration by Mr Salcito revealed the learning features that Microsoft Office 365 Education, for example, offers.

The application comes with multiple possibilities that enable the teacher to guide students in interesting and interactive ways, both within the classroom environment and from remote location.

It is available in the Cloud, and according to Microsoft, about 110 million students, faculty and staff around the world are already applying it.

The application not only offers opportunity for online learning, but also makes it possible for the teacher to monitor, direct, and control the attention and performance of individual students, whether in the classroom, in office, or at home.

Bing for Schools

It further comes with features that provide room for learners to use graphic and animation representations thought to only make studies more captivating.

Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, is in the process of rolling out a new application known as “Bing for Schools”. This search engine is specifically created for students to protect them from exposure to unpleasant advertising and adult content.

“Bing for Schools ensures students don’t see search ads when using Bing and also enhances their privacy by preventing the use of data to create ad profiles,” states a press release from Microsoft.

This facility is still very new, presently being rolled out in the US before it is released for use worldwide, says the man in charge, Mr Matt Wallaert.

To control the networks that students get access to in their learning environments, Windows Intune, a Cloud service, “allows school IT administrators to manage Windows, Windows Phone, Android and iOS devices connected to their network over the Web, eliminating the need to own each device or to use onsite servers,” states Microsoft.

Yet more teacher-student technologies are in the making through emerging partnerships, according to announcements made at the conference.

For instance, interactive education technology company Promethean World, has committed to integrating Windows 8 apps and Office 365 onto its platform ClassFlow.

ClassFlow is a Cloud-based, classroom tool that teachers can use to create lesson plans and deliver interactive content across multiple devices, without losing the function of the teacher assessing individual student understanding.

Now in its 10th year, the Microsoft in Education Global Forum brings together more than 1,100 innovative educators, school leaders and government officials from around the world to learn from each other, share classroom triumphs and challenges, and collaborate to help transform education for the 21st Century.


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