The University of Texas at Austin is celebrating a milestone after helping 600 Texas teachers earn a computer science teaching certification. The program, called WeTeach_CS, was formed in 2015 with the goal of preparing in-service educators to teach computer science.
“STEM and computer science careers are the fastest-growing careers in the country and can be ladders of economic opportunity not just for students, but for entire families,” said Carol Fletcher, director of Expanding Pathways in Computing at UT Austin’s Texas Advanced Computing Center. “Regardless of race, gender or socioeconomic status, every student deserves an opportunity to learn computer science skills.”
In 2014, Fletcher took an inventory of computer science education in Texas, finding that only 25 teachers statewide had graduated from a pre-service teacher preparation program. Recognizing that the best way to quickly increase the number of computer science educators was to focus on training in-service teachers, Fletcher in her initial outreach sent an email blast to math and science teachers in Texas. Teachers were invited to participate in a project in partnership with Oracle Academy called Keep Calm and Java On, consisting of free online coursework to learn Java programming.
Fletcher’s hope was to recruit 20 teachers. Two weeks after her initial outreach, she received more than 100 applications for participation and realized that an untapped market of potential teachers was available. Leveraging U.S. Department of Education funding, WeTeach_CS began piloting in-person professional development that focused specifically on the competencies addressed on the Texas teacher computer science certification exam. Once again, demand was high, with some teachers traveling more than 1,000 miles round trip to participate. This led to the creation of the WeTeach_CS team’s signature online course, Foundations of Computer Science for Teachers. The Foundations course allowed the program to reach potential educators in every corner of the state.
In 2015, James Hovey of Martin High School in the Arlington Independent School District (ISD) became the first to earn a computer science teaching certification with the help of WeTeach_CS. In July, Eybar Vasquez-Nevarez of Clint ISD Early College Academy, a school in a small town outside of El Paso, became the 600th.
“Research shows that rural districts are less likely to offer computer science courses than urban and suburban districts, so assisting teachers in bringing education to students in rural districts is a high priority for UT Austin,” Fletcher said.
With the support of organizations such as the U.S. Department of Education, Microsoft, Beyond100k and the Siegel Family Endowment, WeTeach_CS created the Certification Incentive Program, which provides a $1,000 stipend to any Texas educator who earns a computer science teaching certification.
WeTeach_CS has served teachers from the state’s largest school districts like Houston ISD, with nearly 200,000 students, to the smallest ones like Terlingua, which has just 98. Since 2015, Texas educators from 469 schools and 251 districts have achieved computer science certification with the help of WeTeach_CS. Due to the success of this program in Texas, WeTeach_CS now partners with other states to help them grow their CS teacher workforce.
“We want WeTeach_CS to be a one-stop shop for educators looking to develop robust and inclusive K-12 CS programs,” Fletcher said. “Every Texas student deserves nothing less.”
Low code development gives companies struggling to find tech talent a practical way to surmount the skills gap. It’s not a panacea, but it can be more than just a temporary patch when used correctly.
Gartner predicts that almost two-thirds of app development will utilize low code tools by 2024, and companies are already using low code to speed development and reduce costs.
PMI, the nonprofit certification organization best known for its project management professional credential, added low code to its portfolio in 2020, with a Citizen Developer Foundation online course.
In the interim, demand for app developers and software engineers has outpaced supply.
Unemployment in tech occupations was 2.2% in October, more than a full point below the rate for all professions. Near historic lows have persisted throughout the year.
The partnership between PMI and Microsoft aims to remediate the shortage of professional coders and relieve the strain on IT departments by creating a new talent pool, according to the post.
The hub was launched after a successful test run that involved 28 universities and 1,500 low code student developers, the post said.
From a lectern beneath three giant screens, Professor Alain Goudey gives lessons on digital transformation to students from around the globe in a lecture hall that can potentially seat hundreds. All of this, however, is in the virtual realm — one that offers a glimpse of a potential future for business education.
His employer, Neoma Business School in France, is one of many forward-thinking European institutions that are stepping into the metaverse — an immersive digital world where students are represented by 3D avatars. This is because of its potential to make learning more interactive, but also because of the commercial opportunities. Management consultancy McKinsey estimates the metaverse will generate up to $5tn in value by 2030.
“It’s very important for business schools to be at the forefront of educating future managers about the metaverse,” says Goudey, a professor of marketing and associate dean for digital at Neoma. “It is going to shape the world of tomorrow.”
Although the metaverse is hailed by some as the next generation of the internet, business schools do not agree on an exact definition. Nor do they agree how — or even if — it will work in practice.
At Neoma, students experience the metaverse as avatars in a virtual campus. The school has also developed several virtual reality case studies that submerge students in real corporate dilemmas, enabling them to apply theory in practice. “Immersion enhances the power of the role-play and the simulation,” Prof Goudey says. “It’s amazing to see how deeply it is impacting pedagogy.”
He says Neoma hopes to embed VR in the virtual campus to enhance the learning experience for remote participants.
The potential of the metaverse has been thrust into the public psyche in the past year by technology companies such as Meta (formerly Facebook), which are racing to create avatar-filled virtual worlds. Now, some of these tech giants are working with business schools to enhance the educational experience with immersive technologies.
Polimi Graduate School of Management in Milan intends to deliver seminars with Microsoft in which participants on the International Flex Executive MBA will learn about potential business opportunities in the metaverse.
In addition, Polimi is planning for EMBA participants to try out VR headsets and experience various scenarios, enabled by Fadpro, an edtech start-up part-owned by the school. These will include virtual trips to companies, allowing students to gain first-hand business experience without physically having to travel to the location.
Looking ahead, Polimi’s dean, Federico Frattini, believes the metaverse could work well for teaching “soft skills” such as leadership and teamwork. This is because it can enable students to pick up on non-verbal behaviours — gestures, posture — more easily than when video-conferencing. “This is a context in which replicating a physical environment through technology can Improve learning outcomes,” Frattini says.
Investment in sophisticated tools for interactive learning has been accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic, which pushed business schools into the virtual realm.
“In our sector, there has been a certain hesitancy to adopt new technology for fear of it not being good enough,” says Barbara Stöttinger, dean of WU Executive Academy in Vienna. “What the pandemic has done is opened up our minds. It has shown us the possibilities and the speed with which we can innovate.”
This year, WU has partnered with Tomorrow’s Education, an edtech start-up, to launch its Professional Master of Sustainability, Entrepreneurship and Technology. The programme is delivered entirely in the school’s virtual campus, accessible through an online app. “We need to think about the next generation who will grow up in the metaverse,” Stöttinger says. “Eventually, it will be a must for us to be there. This investment makes us future-proof.”
Institutions see the metaverse as a way for students to interact more meaningfully, but also as a platform to create business opportunities.
At Essca School of Management in France, students on the MSc International Business 4.0 programme create their own avatar in Second Life, the long-established 3D online world, and spend time observing how other avatars behave. Each student then identifies a potential commercial opportunity for a luxury brand in the metaverse, such as selling digital goods, and creates a virtual prototype.
“We need to prepare our students to be ready for the future,” says Orsolya Sadik-Rozsnyai, head of the Essca online campus, noting that luxury houses are exploring business opportunities around virtual goods and non-fungible tokens.
For business schools, she says, the challenge is avoiding using technology for technology’s sake. “The metaverse could be the next iteration of the internet but, until we find the right use cases, it will remain a fantasy,” she argues.
In spite of the metaverse’s exciting possibilities, business schools remain a long way from realising its full potential, says David Lefevre, professor of practice in digital innovation at London’s Imperial College Business School. “It’s a fantastically beguiling idea of an alternative universe that we inhabit, but the metaverse at the moment is more of an aspiration,” he says.
Key challenges include ensuring interoperability, which would enable students to move freely between different virtual worlds. High energy consumption is also a concern. “The resources required to operate the virtual environment, whether in the cloud or locally, are considerable,” says Tamim Elbasha, associate dean of learning and quality development at France’s Audencia Business School.
Roselva Tunstall, director of the edtech lab at ESMT Berlin, raises further doubts. “Digital accessibility is a challenge,” she says, pointing out that virtual reality can be expensive and can also cause motion sickness. Faculty and staff would also require training in order to deliver classes using these tools, she adds.
Other schools cite data privacy and protection concerns as barriers to bringing business education into the metaverse. In any case, Tunstall says it is unlikely to supplant traditional teaching methods. “The metaverse is not meant to replace, it’s meant to enhance.”
Nguyen Thi Kim Dung, headmaster of Dong La Secondary School in Hoai Duc district in Hanoi has been honored as Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert - MIEE for three consecutive years.
Dung, 53, says she applies new techniques in teaching at her school. Her passion for learning and pursuing new trends never stops. She attends classes and programs that share experiences with the community of teachers.
“Adaptation is the key in the selection process. If you don’t change to adapt to new circumstances, you will lag behind,” she said.
In February 2020, schools in Vietnam had to shift to online teaching because of Covid-19. To find apps for her school, Dung joined MIE Experts, a community of creative educators using technology to Improve quality of teaching, learning and education management. She also studied at learn.microsoft.com to Improve her IT skills.
Sometimes she attended 2-3 online classes just to acquire a skill, an experience that helps teachers work more effectively. She stayed sleepless to learn new teaching software to help other teachers reform teaching methods. After learning about MS Teams, she registered Office 365A1 for all teachers in her school. She urged teachers to find effective online teaching methods.
During three years of online teaching, Dung has built an online school model in Office 365. All teachers at Dong La Secondary School can now use Microsoft Forms proficiently to design sheets, and compile documents to serve their jobs. Students have also acquired more technology skills.
Dung has shared her experience about teaching and management methods with over 2,000 teachers nationwide. She advised Hoai Duc district’s education sub-department to ask Microsoft Vietnam to grant O365 for free to all teachers and students in the district.
The school manages a system of records and books in the digital space to help teachers save time, effort and costs.
Dung also organizes creative activities to Improve education quality for students, such as developing online newspapers on Sway, designing video, and organizing presentation competitions. She also organizes experience activities and online clubs, and connects ‘classes with no borders’ with other provinces, and with teachers in the US and Ukraine.
Being a teacher had been Zaleha Zulkifly's ambition since she was young and hailing from a small town in Kelantan like Jeli, she was sure that teaching would be her lifelong career.
Zaleha also loves baking. On the side, Zaleha has been formulating ideas to start her own bakery business. Little did she know, seven years later, today, her side hustle, Azreha Bakery, is now a household name in her town.
Zaleha's experience isn't an isolated one. In a rural town like Jeli, most people rarely get the chance to come across a turning point like how Zaleha did – and one reason for this is the lack of resources.
Realising this, Microsoft joined hands with local social enterprise Me.reka to bring digital tools and skills to Jeli. Together with the support from MyDigital Corporation, Microsoft organised "Program Digital Usahawan Jeli" (Jeli digital entrepreneurship programme).
Through this programme, the company aimed to reach out to local entrepreneurs and guide them to grow and sustain their businesses by leveraging technology and digital skills.
Five of the entrepreneurs were selected for a three-month-long mentorship programme conducted virtually on Microsoft Teams where they were trained in three key areas: sales, social media, and partnerships.
TECH TRANSFORMING LIVES
"I never expected my bakery to grow to the extent that I could do this full-time, but technology has transformed my whole business," said Zaleha.
"Previously, only those who lived around the area knew about my business and I only sold in-store but now Azreha Bakery has an online footprint, and I have people reaching out to me daily to place orders for my cakes."
According to Zaleha, sales for Azreha Bakery have increased by 37 per cent while social media engagement shot up by 546 per cent. Beyond that, she is now also a mentor to others in her community, offering internship opportunities to students, further enabling them to pick up baking and entrepreneurial skills at a young age.
DIGITISING FOR ORDER
Like Zaleha, Siti Nur Ain Ismail also had a completely different goal in mind when she was younger. "I did long-distance running and thought my sports career was set in stone. I started Ain Aiskrim when I was only 25 years old, and my child was only a one-year-old then."
Ain didn't have high expectations when she first signed up for the workshop. While her regular customers liked her ice cream, having a small team caused her to let go of multiple opportunities to cater to larger orders.
"The mentors from this programme opened my eyes and provided guidance – not only through digital tools but they've also broadened my perspective on entrepreneurship.
"I used to scribble all my notes, now, I use Microsoft Excel. All the data is neatly organised and easily trackable – and I don't have to worry about losing my notes."
Ain ice-cream used to be available only at two schools and a grocery store in the district but has since expanded. "I want to continue growing my team and help more people realise their potential too – maybe I'll start putting up job vacancy postings on social media soon," added Ain.
While digital and technical capabilities are at the core of Microsoft's Skills for Jobs programme, the main objective for the programme is to bridge the digital divide and empower equal opportunities for every Malaysian to succeed in an increasingly digital future.
"This was what drove our commitment to upskilling an additional one million Malaysians by the end of 2023. We have since achieved more than 60 per cent of our target as of August 2022, a reflection of our continued partnership with Malaysia towards a future that is inclusive, innovative, and competitive – true to our mission to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more," said the firm.
GETTING IMPACT WITH SOCIAL PLATFORMS
Azizah Sulaiman launched SAS Mummy Power Legacy with the mission of encouraging health at a cheap price while also selling delicious, nutritious coffee. She had to halt her plan, though, when the pandemic broke out.
"It was frustrating. I wanted to do so much but I couldn't since there were movement restrictions in place," shared Azizah.
However, her grit and a willingness to explore alternatives made Azizah sign up for training programmes. Today, Azizah has up to 18,800 followers on social media compared to only 4,000 three months ago.
"I realised that like me, a lot of people were stuck at home with their devices so my consistent efforts in social media marketing were able to reach customers that I never imagined.
"There are so many readily available tools online that can help. All it takes is an effort to learn how to leverage these tools and with time, you'll reach your goal eventually."
This tenacity was also seen in Natasya Abdul Ghani, a fellow entrepreneur from Jeli. Unlike the others who started their businesses on the side, Natasya has always aspired to be a businesswoman.
Founded in 2017, Natasya's The Bee Garden sells pure honey and honey-based soaps. She also mentors aspiring beekeepers.
She signed up for the workshop with the intention of becoming more involved in various aspects of business operations, with big goals of expanding her business and creating job opportunities.
"The experience made me realise that I am far from reaching my goal, but it also enlightened me on many different approaches to growing my business. Recently, I even received orders from Singapore. This is a huge milestone I didn't expect to achieve so early on, but now I feel more motivated than ever to let even more people know about The Bee Garden," shared Natasya. She also recently secured partnerships with J&T Express Malaysia, a leading courier company in Malaysia as well as deals with multiple sundry shops.
THE POWER OF ONLINE PRESENCE
When mother-of-two, Suhaila Jusoh started her business, it was to support her family.
Founded just before the pandemic, it used to be a brick-and-mortar business.
"I knew nothing about technology but to sustain my business, I only had two options – to learn or to lose out," said Suhaila who used to only make around RM300 in revenue per month. To date, Orfeo Perfume has increased its sales to 80 bottles of perfume in only two weeks.
"One thing I've learned is the importance of making your products visually appealing. I was initially panic if I would be able to familiarise myself with digital tools since they're all new to me, but Microsoft Sway is simple to navigate. It helped me create designs for the Orfeo Perfume website – and it looks good too."
Suhaila also mentioned that she now uses Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Excel for networking, acquiring new customers, and keeping track of business data without having to worry about losing it.
FROM JELI TO THE WORLD
Back then, Natasya, Suhaila, Ain, Zaleha, and Azizah were five businesswomen who knew very little about technology. They have become Malaysia's first five Microsoft Digital Entrepreneur Ambassadors in just four months.
Additionally, the Jeli Digital Entrepreneurship Programme's success motivated Microsoft to introduce the "Digital Entrepreneur Skills and Tools in a Box Programme", a framework that Microsoft hopes to use to replicate and support future digital entrepreneurial initiatives.
"We hope to continue nurturing these five entrepreneurs as mentors to other aspiring entrepreneurs, and continue empowering more people to realise their aspirations, from Jeli to the world."
© New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd
Microsoft today attended the GESS 2022 education technology conference in Dubai, where the company introduced delegates to the latest innovations that support the digital transformation of teaching and learning.
“Microsoft has long been deeply immersed in the world of education,” said Ahmed Ameen Ashour, Education Director, Microsoft UAE. “We are strong advocates for life-long learning, and we have been an important voice in urging governments to turn their attention to skilling as the number-one prerequisite for a sustainable future. Additionally, our platforms, products, and services strongly support digital transformation in the classroom, including the increasing popularity of distance learning. Minecraft: Education Edition now offers more than 600 standards-aligned lessons. And innovations such as practicing Progress allow teachers to spend more of their time with students and less time crunching numbers.”
The company showcased its HoloLens mixed-reality headset at its stand. Visitors also caught a glimpse of practicing Progress, a free tool built into Microsoft Teams that supports and tracks practicing fluency in classroom settings. Students record their practicing on camera and submit it to teachers who assess and return work, all while data is automatically collected and presented as insights for all stakeholders. Earlier this year, two Qatar-based schools launched a pilot scheme for English and Arabic lessons using practicing Progress.
Minecraft: Education Edition was also on display at the company’s GESS 2022 stand. The Microsoft-owned gaming ecosystem, which in recent years has become an indispensable teaching tool for classrooms across the region, now has features that support collaboration, assessment, coding, and more.
Over the three-day event, Microsoft will also give a series of talks on the current trends that are shaping the regional education sector. Majed Akl, Primary and Secondary Education Director, Microsoft MEA, will give a talk on “Re-Imagining Education”, in which he will focus on how the sector’s landscape has shifted over the past two years. Microsoft MEA’s Mixed Reality Product Marketing Lead, Ksenia Ternavskykh will deliver “Bringing Innovation in Higher Education with Mixed Reality/Augmented Reality”, covering a new era of learning that embraces the metaverse.
Joining Microsoft at the 2022 edition of GESS Dubai are a select group of partners including: Classera, Creative Technology Solutions (CTS), Gamalearn, Hevolus Innovation, and Human Logic.
Over the next few days, Microsoft will use GESS 2022 to publicize a series of achievements, including celebrating its partner ‘s innovative approaches to modern education. Also on the agenda are several education-focused agreements to be signed with government entities throughout the week.
In a bid to digitally transform Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRS) and impart quality education to its tribal students, the Centre has joined hands with Microsoft. In the first phase, 36 EMRS have been selected for the digital transformation.
“Digital Transformation of EMRSs can play a key role in improving the learning experience for both students and teachers, where focus shall be on integration of digital technologies to Improve teaching and learning.
Access to technology can lead the way forward for access to knowledge,” said Asit Gopal, Commissioner, National Education Society for Tribal Students (NESTS), an autonomous organization established under the Union Tribal Affairs Ministry. He was speaking at an online workshop organized for EMRS principals and school heads on “Education Transformation Framework” (ETF), in collaboration with Microsoft Corporation India Private Limited recently.
Emphasizing on the imperative need of digital transformation in EMRSs, Gopal said that such change keeping in with changing times can play a key role in improving the learning experience for both students and teachers, where focus shall be on integration of digital technologies to Improve teaching and learning.
Gopal asserted that in the first phase, 36 EMRSs have been selected which shall walk their way forward to digitally transform schools and enhance the technological skills by use of Microsoft software and application. The Union Tribal Ministry hopes to enroll 3.5 lakh students and recruit 36,000 teachers in its 740 Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRs) for tribal students schools targeted to be functional by 2026 across the country. Presently, as of November, a total of 688 EMRSs have been sanctioned, of which 392 are functional where around 105463 students are enrolled.
The current workshop on EMRs digitization was first in its journey of transformation, other components include professional development of teachers using Microsoft Technologies and artificial intelligence (AI) applications; building exposure of students to AI and Coding; sharing of Coding Curriculum for Grade 6th to 12th & AI curriculum for Grade 8th to 12th; workshop on Microsoft Certified Educator (MCE) program etc, shared an official from the Ministry. Last year, the Ministry on May 17 had inked a pact with Microsoft to help Tribal schools such as EMRS and Ashram Schools have digital transformation. As per the MoU, Microsoft is preparing bi-lingual Artificial Intelligence (AI) curriculum for tribal students in English and Hindi languages that will be taught at all EMRS schools to upskill both educators and students in next-gen technologies.
The project could not take off last year in full swings owing to the restrictions posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the official said.
He explained that as part of the MoU, the teachers will also be trained in using productivity technologies like Office 365 and AI applications in teaching in a phased manner, where they can even earn certificates from Microsoft Education Centre. Microsoft will also mentor students from EMRS on Ai projects to help pursue the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
By Mia Pandža / Social Media Manager
Interested in experiencing new cultures? As a part of International Education Week, SUNY Brockport and other Rochester-area universities hosted ROC Your Global Future to present a series of online workshops.
Each workshop focused on the benefits of international education and exchange while becoming a global citizen. On Wednesday, Nov. 16, ROC Your Global Future presented a workshop on teaching abroad. The workshop was led by Jenny Sullivan, Director of Education Abroad and International Fellowships at Rochester Institute of Technology.
“These workshops provide a space for returned study abroad students to analyze and reflect on their experience in an effort to truly maximize its impact and learn how to solidify these new ways of being and doing into their new global identity,” Sullivan said.
The workshop featured two panelists, both who are currently teaching abroad. Hannah Chhan is currently teaching in Thailand and Samantha Vell is currently in Brazil. Both panelists spoke about their education, travel and educational careers. Attendees were guided through their several years of teaching internationally, getting exposed to the many opportunities students have with teaching abroad. Attendees also received advice on finding a position, how to be a successful teacher and the support that’s available to them.
The workshop also provided resources for specific formal programs and job boards. Some formal programs offered included a 1-year program in Japan and a teacher’s assistant program in France. Teacher Horizons is a free platform for students to apply to international schools.
“We hope that students who attended now feel empowered to give this experience a go and put themselves out there, ready to immerse themselves in the world around them,” Chhan said.
Attendees asked questions intently and were enthusiastic about expanding their international study experience. Workshops like these help encourage students to become global citizens and further their abroad adventures.