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Microsoft Hosts Educators Worldwide to Discuss 21st Century Learning Challenges


Teachers and education leaders gather to discuss how technology can address educational needs, including building global classrooms.

HELSINKI, Finland . — Nearly 500 teachers, school administrators and education policymakers from more than 50 countries are gathered in Helsinki, Finland, this week for the third-annual worldwide Innovative Teachers Forum (ITF) and School of the Future (SOF) World Summit, two global events hosted by Microsoft Corp. Both events are focused on the future of education and will feature discussions and demonstrations about how technology can help address some of the challenges educators around the world are facing.

The ITF and SOF World Summit are both part of Microsoft Partners in Learning, an initiative to help teachers and administrators give students the skills they need to succeed. Thus far, more than 73 million students and more than 3.6 million teachers in 101 countries have been influenced through Partners in Learning.

To support these efforts, the ITF recognizes and rewards innovative teachers who practice the elements of 21st century learning and incorporate the creative use of technology in their classrooms. The SOF World Summit provides educators and policymakers with a platform to exchange ideas and new approaches to K–12 learning and education reform, and thereby better equip students around the world to become the business and technology leaders of tomorrow.

“Microsoft is committed to providing educators with the tools and support they need because it’s central to our mission of helping people realize their potential, and Partners in Learning is one way we’re delivering on that commitment,” said Ralph Young, vice president of the Worldwide Public Sector at Microsoft. “As educators strive to transform today’s students into tomorrow’s informed global citizens, private industry has a responsibility to provide assistance. The worldwide Innovative Teachers Forum helps celebrate a global community of teachers who are passionate about adopting new learning methods in the classroom.”

Keeping Innovative Teachers Connected

Partners in Learning is grounded in the belief that education is the universal pathway to prosperity and technology is a catalyst for educational reform. With that in mind, Innovative Teachers Forums are held regionally, enabling teachers to meet and collaborate with colleagues from different parts of the world, access breakthrough content developed by their peers, and propel their technology expertise to the next level. Once a year, Microsoft also hosts the worldwide ITF, bringing together the most innovative teachers chosen from the regional events, and giving them a chance to share best practices and showcase the most effective and innovative use of technology in the classroom at an end-of-event awards ceremony.

These forums complement another Partners in Learning program — the Microsoft Innovative Teachers Network — which helps create global classrooms via a virtual community of more than 500,000 teachers from around the world who are connecting and learning from one another.

Building the School of the Future

While the ITF is focused on fostering and recognizing individual excellence in teachers, the SOF World Summit will provide more than 350 education leaders from 50 countries with a platform to exchange ideas and new approaches to K–12 learning at a schoolwide level. Summit attendees will learn from known researchers and practitioners, connect with schools that share common goals, and engage in lively debate about issues related to education and technology in learning.

“The School of the Future World Summit fosters a dynamic setting for educators and policymakers to engage in energizing discussions with their colleagues, and initiates creative thinking about sustainable change in educational systems around the world,” said Bruce Dixon, chairman of the worldwide Partners in Learning Advisory Board and a keynote speaker at the SOF World Summit. “These events in Finland are helping educators around the world collaborate on innovative learning experiences, and incorporate technology into the learning process to address the challenges of the 21st century.”

As part of its overall School of the Future efforts, Microsoft’s Innovative Schools program is helping 12 pilot schools around the world by providing technology expertise and experiential knowledge that any school — or any system — can use to prepare children for success in the 21st century. Representatives from those pilot schools are also in Finland to listen, learn and continue the process of holistic school reform.


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