Microsoft showcases education advances at BETT 2018

Company highlights Microsoft 365 Education, an integrated software solution built for education

Tags: Microsoft Gulf
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Microsoft showcases education advances at BETT 2018 New approaches to learning provide students with the rich, immersive, collaborative experiences they need to ignite their innate curiosity and creativity.
By  David Ndichu Published  April 24, 2018

Microsoft is showcasing how its products and solutions can digitally transform classrooms, at the BETT Middle East and Africa (MEA) Leadership Summit and Expo which ends today in Abu Dhabi.

From its devices and productivity apps, to education solutions that incorporate mixed-reality capabilities, Microsoft illustrated the changing role of technology in the classroom. The company also showcased Microsoft 365 Education, which brings together Office 365, Windows 10, Enterprise Mobility + Security and Minecraft: Education Edition in a single solution built for education.

“New approaches to learning, from mixed-reality solutions to hands-on lesson plans, provide students with the rich, immersive, collaborative experiences they need to ignite their innate curiosity and creativity,” said Ahmed Ameen Ashour, education director, Microsoft Gulf. Microsoft has long been committed to prepare our young people for the digital future they face. “Our Presence at BETT MEA for the third consecutive year reiterates our commitment to continue driving important discussions between policymakers, school leaders and educators in the region. Together we aim to discover the joint initiatives required to deliver truly student-centric approaches to education and underpin future employability and economic growth,” added Ashour.

With mounting pressure on educational institutions to continually improve student achievement and prepare them with skills they’ll need when they enter the workforce, the aim of Microsoft 365 Education is to get schools up and running faster through simplified acquisition and deployment. This improves time efficiency and delivers new capabilities to teachers and students to help them learn and work in new ways. The company enlisted the aid of real students from the Microsoft Showcase Schools programme to help run the demos at its BETT MEA 2018 stand and show that collaborative learning models can help to build much-needed soft skills, such as emotional and social aptitudes.

This year’s BETT MEA hosted 2,500 educators, policy-makers, thought-leaders, stakeholders and technology specialists, who came together to share their views on how to improve learning outcomes across the region. In addition to the technology showcase, Microsoft also participated in panel discussions, presentations and keynote addresses.

Anthony Salcito, vice president of worldwide education at Microsoft, in his keynote address spoke about how learning has transformed in today’s era and so has the modern workplace; and highlighted the importance of driving change in teaching and learning models, thus preparing students for the future workforce. Salcito’s keynote also shed light on the recent Mckinsey “Class of 2030” report that reveals how students want to develop the skills to navigate their own learning, and the need for personalization versus automation. Furthermore, he also talked about the role of cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, mixed reality and quantum computing, and how they contribute to transforming teaching and learning in increasingly innovative ways.

McKinsey's “Class of 2030” report – encompassing input from 2,000 students, 2,000 teachers and 70 thought leaders worldwide – revealed that children starting school now would be better prepared for the post-Fourth Industrial Revolution workplace if they were endowed with social and emotional skills. Only 42% of employers believe that today's graduates are adequately equipped with those attributes.

The study showed that up to 40% of jobs in growth industries required soft skills and that emotional and social attributes were twice as predictive of a student's academic results as home environment and demographics. More than 98% of students expressed a desire for more personalisation in the classroom, as opposed to automation, revealing a need for teachers' time to be freed up. Teachers, on average, said the right technology in the classroom gave them 30% of their time back, allowing them to deliver more student-centric education.

“The role of technology in the classroom is changing dramatically, from the simple automation of processes and digitization of content to a full-fledged partner in the enhancement of student engagement. The Fourth Industrial Revolution has produced a proliferation of new educational models designed to fulfil the demands of the smart society, in which the future workforce must be capable of complex problem-solving, creativity and critical thinking,” added Ashour.

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