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Executing on a Global Education Vision: Microsoft Unveils Range of Products, Resources to Improve Learning Environments and Experiences


Students meet with Bill Gates; Microsoft announces Student with Encarta Premium 2008, Cool Conversations Traveling Tutor and the School of the Future Resource Kit.

ATLANTA.— On the heels of its announcement yesterday of a strategic alliance with Houghton Mifflin Learning Technology, a division of publishing leader Houghton Mifflin Co., Microsoft Corp. today announced at the National Educational Computing Conference the release of several education-focused products and resources, including Microsoft® Student with Encarta® Premium 2008, the Cool Conversations Traveling Tutor and the School of the Future Resource Kit.

Demonstrating the breadth of the company’s focus and commitment to education and to helping improve the quality of learning environments and experiences around the world, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and Craig Mundie, the company’s chief research and strategy officer, today greeted 36 of the brightest student software designers from around the world for Imagine Cup 2007 at the Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Wash., to hear their ideas about how technology can transform education in the future.

“Microsoft’s focus on education stems from our core mission to use innovation and resources to improve organizations and the quality of life locally, nationally and globally,” said Anthony Salcito, general manager of U.S. education at Microsoft. “On a universal issue as complex as education we need to commit and act on several levels, from a clear global vision to industry collaboration to community-based initiatives to informed product development to inspiring student imagination. We’re executing at every level.”

Commitment to Quality Learning Environments, Experiences and Opportunities

Inspired Learning Opportunity: Imagine Cup 2007. Thirty-six students from Brazil, China, Japan, Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States, who are participating in Imagine Cup 2007, had the opportunity of a lifetime to show Gates and Mundie in person how they would use technology to improve education. The Imagine Cup is one of the world’s premier software design competitions designed to motivate students to explore technological and artistic interests outside the classroom and challenge them to imagine a better world enabled by their own genius, creativity and energy. In its first year, Imagine Cup attracted 1,000 students from 25 countries who vied in local, regional and national competitions for the title of software design champions. Five years later there are more than 100,000 students from 100 countries competing.

This year’s Imagine Cup theme is: “Imagine a world where technology enables a better education for all.” Entries include First Programme Language, designed to develop young children’s problem-solving skills through the teaching of simple programming concepts; The KnowTouch, a mobile device with electro-mechanic pins intended to aid in Braille reading; and the Learning Management Tool, a system that allows teachers to receive unspoken feedback from students that helps improve their ways of teaching. The winners will be determined at a final competition to be held in South Korea in August 2007.

“There is no single correct answer to solve all the challenges of education in every community,” Salcito said, “but educational technology plays an increasingly important role in creating environments in homes, schools and communities that are conducive to teaching and learning in a way that best prepares students for living and working successfully in the 21st century.”

Learning at Home: Microsoft Student with Encarta Premium 2008. Microsoft announced the release of Microsoft Student with Encarta Premium 2008, a suite of homework tools and trusted information that now comes with Learning Essentials 2.0, templates and tutorials to transform Microsoft Office Word, PowerPoint® and Excel® into student-oriented applications with writing tips and a quick start to presentations and reports.

Designed to help students more quickly understand and easily express their assignments in a variety of subjects including math, research and foreign language, Microsoft Student with Encarta Premium 2008 includes the following:

Encarta Premium 2008. A wide range of reference tools such as a dynamic atlas, a dictionary, a thesaurus and language-translation dictionaries

Microsoft Math. A large collection of tools, tutorials and instruction and an extensive 3-D graphing calculator to help students visualize and learn how to solve math problems

Foreign-language help. A full-featured dictionary to help translate and conjugate verbs in Spanish, French, German and Italian

Web links. More than 25,000 trusted Web sites preselected by Encarta editors for relevant and age-appropriate research material

Book summaries. More than 1,000 book summaries providing a brief synopsis of some of the most commonly studied works of literature, with information on the author, and analysis of themes, characters and ideas for writing reports or studying for a test

Microsoft Student with Encarta Premium 2008 is scheduled to be available July 2 for an estimated retail price* of $49.95 (U.S.). Microsoft Math 3.0 is also available as a stand-alone downloadable application for an estimated retail price* of $19.95 (U.S.) or through a variety of Microsoft Academic Volume Licensing programs for educational institutions.

Learning on the Move: Cool Conversations Traveling Tutor. In alliance with Interactive Speech Solutions LLC, Microsoft announced the release of Cool Conversations (CCQ) Traveling Tutor, a complete study, testing, assessment, content development and reporting application that gives any Microsoft Windows®-based computer, including desktop PCs, laptops and other handheld devices, the ability to interact verbally with users. Through the use of Microsoft Windows Mobile®, CCQ Traveling Tutor merges the natural speech synthesis capabilities offered by today’s computers with the latest advances in mobile technology, resulting in a mobile, talking computer that can speak to the child in English, Spanish or 20 other languages.

CCQ Traveling Tutor requires no connection to the Internet to function, bridging the gap of opportunity often faced by students who lack access to Internet-based programs outside school. Once content is loaded on the mobile device, students can work in school, on the bus, at home, anywhere and anytime. The CCQ system stores a report of all the student’s activity, which can be transferred to the teacher’s computer when the student returns to the classroom.

High-Quality Learning Environments: School of the Future Resource Kit. Microsoft’s U.S. Partners in Learning today announced the availability of the School of the Future Resource Kit DVD, a collection of instructional, environmental, architectural and technical tools and learnings generated from the construction of the Philadelphia School of the Future. Opened to students for the first time in September 2006, the school is an urban public high school built by Microsoft in partnership with the School District of Philadelphia, incorporating the best of technological and organizational solutions within standard school governance, budget and union constraints. The resource kit is helping to fulfill a goal of the project, which is to be a model that can be replicated by other school districts across the country and around the world.

“Our goal was to help education organizations stop trying to reinvent the wheel by making the most robust research and innovative ideas available to everyone,” Salcito said.

The kit includes a copy of the School of the Future documentary “4021 Parkside Ave.,” an independent film produced by filmmaker Byron Karabatsos, which documents the journey, challenges and opportunities experienced in creating a high school that embodies innovation and technology. The kit also includes School of the Future planning resources such as these:

Vision overview

Learning Space Matrix school-design resource

“Process and People” video training

Education Competency Wheel professional development tools

Getting the Most out of a School Visit template

“Creating Effective Data Solutions” white paper

“Creating 21st Century Schools” white paper

The School of the Future Resource Kit DVD can be ordered online at The $19.99 (U.S.) charge covers production, shipping and handling costs.

These events, products and resources are just a few examples of Microsoft’s commitment to education. In April 2007, Bill Gates announced Unlimited Potential, the company’s long-term commitment to use technology, training and partnerships to transform education, foster local innovation and enable jobs and opportunities to sustain a continuous cycle of social and economic growth for everyone.

“To fundamentally transform learning environments and experiences takes a holistic approach to educational technology,” Salcito said. “That means not just selecting the right tools and solutions, but also building community support, ensuring proper training, and selecting the methodologies that meet the unique and specific needs of each education community. There is no better use for Microsoft’s resources, access to networks of international education experts and strong relationships with education communities than to advance these critical conversations.”


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