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Educators must develop activities that require 21st Century skills, says Microsoft

More educators need to develop learning activities that require 21st Century skills, according the results of a new survey.

Innovative Teaching and Learning (ITL) Research – which was sponsored by Microsoft’s Partners in Learning programme – found that although the skills that students need for modern work and life are found in schools, students are rarely able to take these them on board in practice.

Anthony Salcito, vice-president of worldwide education at Microsoft, said: “Education policy-makers and school leaders have long voiced a commitment to transforming education so that students get the skills they need.

“The problem is that the policy is not being put into reality on the ground. Most educators don’t know how to implement these ideas with their students.”

The Microsoft Partners in Learning programme is a $500 million commitment by Microsoft to help transform education systems around the world.

The research is part of an international attempt to assess innovative teaching practices such as student driven learning, extending learning outside the classroom, and the use of ICT in education.

The pilot year of the study was conducted in coordination with the governments of Finland, Indonesia, Russia and Senegal, with data collected from 25 schools and 600 teachers in each chosen country.

The success of the pilot scheme has prompted the governments of Australia, England, Mexico and the United States to join the research project.

Dr Mary Langworthy, director of the ITL Research, hopes the findings will help policy makers better understand the relationship between classroom practices and the intentions of the policies that are created.

She said: “When schools and educational systems begin to clearly define, measure and recognise innovative teaching practices, educators see an alignment between the rhetoric of change and the reality of teaching and learning.”

In order to help educators develop these definitions and better practices, Microsoft has introduced a new free tool – the Partners in Learning School Research – which will allow education systems to conduct their own research based on the study.

Mark Astley

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