Back To School: Microsoft And Tampa Schools Launch Digital Education Initiative
Mark Drapeau (Tampa, FL) —
This past weekend, I had the pleasure of visiting Tampa, FL for “Back to School with Microsoft,” a fun, educational, and successful event that trained more than 500 local educators in a wide variety of technology skills useful in their classrooms. This is part of Microsoft’s nationwide effort to modernize in-classroom teaching with Microsoft technologies, boost students’ technology skills, and emphasize the value of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning in preparation for 21st century careers.
In addition, this Back to School event marked the kick-off of an exciting new partnership between Microsoft, the City of Tampa, and Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS) to implement a strategic digital education initiative aimed at preparing local students for the opportunities of tomorrow’s economy. Some terrific local news coverage came from WTSP reporter Laura Byrne.
Hillsborough County Schools Superintendent Mary Ellen Elia poses with school board members, Microsoft employees, and other VIPs, and uses Microsoft Lync communications to welcome teachers to the Saturday event.
Florida’s First School District-Wide IT Academy
As part of our new partnership, HCPS is participating in Florida’s pilot implementation of the Microsoft IT Academy Program, which provides a complete IT education solution bridging the education in school with the “real world” of work and jobs in order to provide students with 21st century technology skills. Together with Microsoft and the Florida Department of Education, HCPS will implement Microsoft IT Academy across its 27 high schools and 18 middle schools as a STEM-focused elective for students in the upcoming 2012-2013 school year.
With this Microsoft IT Academy training, educators receive professional development on the latest Microsoft technologies, helping them find innovative means to meet the individual learning needs of their students. In addition, HCPS students will have access to hundreds of web-based courses and receive hands-on experiences with the latest Microsoft software and programs, giving them an edge to gaining job-ready skills and industry credentials while still in school.
Tampa-area teachers learn about IT Academy benefits, free Microsoft products and resources like Kodu, and Microsoft partner technologies from companies like Promethean.
Shaping Tampa’s Future
This new digital education initiative demonstrates Microsoft’s commitment to education in America, and creating positive and lasting impacts in communities across the country. In the Tampa region, the company’s commitment starts with helping youth realize new opportunities. Through Microsoft’s long-term work with the people and organizations of the Tampa Bay region, a number of training, education and community programs are beginning as well, including:
- Microsoft’s DigiGirlz education program that will provide local middle and high school girls with the opportunity to learn about careers in technology, connect with Microsoft employees and participate in hands-on computer and technology workshops. Over the past 12 years, DigiGirlz has reached 19,000 girls in more than 20 states and 17 countries.
- A pilot program that will feature the use of Kinect consoles in a dozen HCPS classrooms which will establish the use of interactive, gesture-based learning.
- Microsoft’s Kodu programming/game-development technology will be incorporated into the HCPS curriculum, helping students to develop IT skills by creating games on the PC and Xbox using the simple, visual programming language designed for use by children.
Some students in Tampa are already benefiting from the incorporation of cutting-edge tech in the classroom.
In addition to Microsoft’s work with Tampa on these education and community outreach initiatives, our company has also worked with the city on a variety of other programs aimed at making a real impact in the region. Notably, Microsoft recently teamed up with the Tampa Police Department on a jointly funded public safety initiative aimed at modernizing the department’s systems used for crime analysis, reporting and reduction, which included an investment in Microsoft SharePoint and SQL Server technologies.
Microsoft has also joined the board of the Tampa Bay Partnership, a public-private organization supporting economic growth and development in the region, and recently made a $25,000 commitment to the organization and its programs.
Youth Engagement at National Political Conventions
In just a couple weeks, Microsoft will continue its focus on youth engagement in the Tampa area through a partnership with National Journal and The Atlantic to host a town hall called “Conversations with the Next Generation,” as part of our activities at the Republican National Convention. This forum discussion (which will be mirrored at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC) will convene young Americans for a dialogue on the critical issues they face as the next generation of leaders. Learn more about the town hall events here, and stay tuned to Publicyte.com and our Twitter feed for live updates from the conventions.
Science and technology are huge drivers of innovation and job creation, but too many students face an opportunity divide — a growing gap between those who have the access, skills,, and opportunities to be successful and those who don’t. Microsoft’s investments in education and communities are aimed at closing that divide, with a focus on helping youth obtain increasingly necessary technical skills and connecting them with greater opportunities for education, employment, and entrepreneurship.
Some of the most innovative students in Tampa mug for the camera.
When I arrived at the Dr. Sam Horton Instructional Services Center this past Saturday morning at 7:45am, thinking I was early, there were hundreds of cars already in the parking lot. I thought there was another event at the same location. I was wrong. Hundreds of teachers were already there, having breakfast and coffee, chatting with each other, and checking out the tech displays. I’m told that some people arrived as early as 6:30am. That’s what I call passion for one’s profession. Seeing my company participate and empower communities of teachers is incredibly rewarding.
Dr. Mark Drapeau is part of the Microsoft Office of Civic Innovation based in Washington, DC.
Behind-the-scenes photos of me and my colleagues!