Technological innovation crucial for transformative learning, says Salcito

Microsoft's worldwide VP of education reflects on first year of Innovative Schools World Tour

Sean Dudley
Sean Dudley
By Sean Dudley on 22 January 2014
Technological innovation crucial for transformative learning, says Salcito

Microsoft’s VP Worldwide Education Anthony Salcito has reiterated the importance of technological innovation when it comes to transformative learning in the classroom.

“When I talk about transformative learning, I often highlight the individuals who make it happen – from the kindergarten teacher using Surface tablets and innovative Windows 8 apps to reinvigorate his classroom, to the visionary school leader who ensures her students are ready for their next step, whether that’s deeper learning, higher education or the workforce,” wrote Salcito in an official Microsoft blog post. “Ultimately, though, truly transformative change must be scalable, and whole schools must adapt to 21st century realities. When this happens, school leaders, teachers, students and the broader community are aligned, and everybody benefits.”

Over the past year, Salcito has been part of Microsoft’s Innovative Schools World Tour to see how schools are using IT to transform learning.

“At Julio Verne Bilingual School in Monte Vedat, Spain, Microsoft technology is embedded at every level, from systems management to infrastructure to the classroom, where students use Surface tablets, along with Kinect and Windows 8 laptops, to collaborate and master 21st century skills,” said Salcito. “Several of the school’s teachers are Microsoft Certified trainers, and five of the teachers have achieved Master Level in Microsoft IT Academy.”

Salcito also discussed the online learning portal in use at St. Cyprian’s School in Cape Town, South Africa, which enables students to access documents, teachers’ calendars and discussion forums. Students use project-based learning and Microsoft devices and software to develop collaboration skills, real-world problem solving, and how best to create and communicate using technology. St Cyprian’s has also established an Innovation Team that encourages teachers to mentor their peers and advance innovation.

Salcito also highlighted an example of a large school in Russia with over 2,000 students that has been able to achieve broad-based change. At Moscow High School #548, or ‘Tsaritsyno’, a one-on-one approach gives students control over how and what they learn. Technology is working alongside assessment and instruction, and is being used to personalise the curriculum of students.

Tsaritsyno has helped shift views away from traditional education methods by involving the wider community in the education process. Innovative partnerships with parents and technology-enabled distance learning for children with special needs is helping to make this transition to transformative learning smoother.

“What do these school have in common? A big-picture view of education transformation, and an understanding that technology can play a significant role in achieving better outcomes in all aspects of the schools’ operation – from classroom learning to teacher development and operations,” writes Salcito.

This week, 250 educators are visiting the Twickenham Academy in London to see how the school is beginning to use technological innovation to improve pedagogy methods and enhance the student experience. The academy has recently been announced as a Microsoft Mentor School, and has recently distributed more than 500 Microsoft Surface devices. Students will have access to an increased range of apps that support learning across various areas.

“No matter where a school is on its journey towards transformation, it takes a thoughtful plan and a committed community of school leaders, administrators, teachers, students and parents to effect meaningful change,” said Salcito. “As partners in learning, Microsoft supports schools in all of these efforts, and we’re encouraged by the holistic approach to transformation we’re witnessing in schools around the world.”

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