Technology is yielding benefits in a number of different fields, but has it had a significant enough impact in the classroom? To find out we met with Microsoft to learn about its plans for the Microsoft Showcase Schools Programme here in South Africa.

The aim of the programme

Microsoft says it has recognised that every child needs to have access to knowledge and the use of technology. That is the aim of their programme, which will help local schools improve with the use of technology by implementing transformative programmes for students as well as educators.

“Students will need to be more versatile and empowered by technology and demonstrate the social and emotional skills to excel in a new world,” explains Zoaib Hoosen, managing director of Microsoft South Africa.

He further explains that the use of technology will give teachers and schools new ways to understand how learners are progressing and allows for customised and targeted curation of content, as well as being able to scale and optimise personalised learning and move from the traditional education models.

“We are already seeing how technology can impact on education and enable learners and teachers,” notes Hoosen.

In order to bring that vision to the fore, the Microsoft Schools Programme has partnered with 228 schools globally that are currently enrolled to implement transformational programmes in the classroom.

To be part of this programme a school needs to demonstrate thought leadership in at least one area of educational transformation and innovative use of technology. It is a self-nomination process and there are requirements that must be met.

“We are more interested in quality and alignment and a commitment to growth mindset and MSFT’s Education Transformation Framework, than just building numbers,” says Glenda Miles, industry manager of education at Microsoft SA.

How this programme affects teachers

Teachers have also realised that social-emotional skills need to be woven into learning programmes, and replace the curriculum based approaches.

“This new technology will give educators the chance to understand new ways and interact with their students to create customised individual lesson plans as well as to give students the developed skills to navigate their own learning progress as well as unlock their curiosity and potential,” adds the MD.

A Stateside example of the Showcase Schools Programme at work is Xavier University’s Junior High School, leader Pamela Quinto Pajente, who has empowered individual classroom educators to evolve their own practice of teaching in response to the governments movement to improve curriculum nationally.

“These teachers have fundamentally changed what teaching and learning looks like and they now provide free training to teachers outside the school who wish to do the same.” says Miles.

How does Microsoft schools programme affect the NDP?

Recent research has estimated that by 2030 half of the work being done by people around the world will be automated by existing technology, which gets us to wonder what will happen to the millions of people and their occupations?

This means that people may have to switch occupational categories to allow technology advances to be in place. “We are already seeing how technology can impact on education and enable learners and teachers.” concludes Hoosen.

Microsoft SA says this programme coincides with the National Development Plan (NDP) as well as the United Nations Development goals to ensure that all children in South Africa have the benefit of a high-quality education, especially with regard to languages, mathematics and science, with the aim of ensuring that 90 percent of learners pass these subjects with at least 50 percent mark by the year 2030.

[Image – Microsoft]