Microsoft demand teachers bring more technology into the classroom

Speaking at the British Education Training and Technology Show 2018, Microsoft Vice-President of Education Anthony Salcito said it was time for schools to change the way they taught their students to better match the world outside the classroom.

“The way we think of students and the way they see themselves and their place in the world is fundamentally different,” Salcito said. “We often describe these students as ‘phygital’ – they don’t see the difference between the physical world and the digital world. They want to create, make and use digital tools in new ways.”

“The way students learn, share ideas, get access to content, create and collaborate is fundamentally different. Their mindsets are different, and the workplaces we are preparing them for are different, so we have to recognise there has been a lot of change. What we’ve now got to do at a system level, the institution level, is not only embrace that change but use it in a purposeful way to drive a different dynamic in classrooms.”

Microsoft is a major sponsor of BETT 2018, and have been focussing increasingly on schools and the classroom as their next enterprise market, releasing a number of tools and platforms designed specifically for that environment. This includes platforms like Windows 10 S, Office 365 for Education, Microsoft Teams for Education, HoloLens and even Minecraft for Education, and the effort appear to be paying off as Microsoft has been winning back market share in the field.

Salcito believed technology can “extend learning beyond the classroom” and will shake up the traditional educational model of a teacher standing in front of a class. Pupils will be able to work more closely together, on more projects and occasionally be in control of their own learning while at school.

“Technology is an amazing tool, and one of things it can do, which we have to harness, is the extension of learning beyond the classroom,” Salcito said. “Teachers can spend less time going through content chapter by chapter – chapter one, chapter two, test, chapter three, chapter four, test – and leverage this world of digital content and learning from others, learning by connecting students to work on projects outside the classroom. What does that mean for how people work inside the classroom? It means they can connect students, who can work on problem-solving and new projects. They can have flip classrooms where students are in the driving seat.”

Salcito said schools needed more “amazing teachers” that could influence a school student in the classroom but really guide their learning journey outside it.

“The size of the learning world for teachers has got bigger,” he noted.

He believed the new approach to teaching will prepare children for a world of work in which people will no longer move to find work, as technology will bring jobs to them.

“There is no shortage of talent in the world, it’s a matter of opportunity. We’ve got to bring that opportunity, with technology, to every classroom.”

The BETT 2018 conference is currently running at the ExCel centre in London. Read more about that here.

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