Microsoft ‘Partners in Learning’ is an annual summit where educators and learners from around the world come together to share ideas on how to make better use of technology to further education. Educators from around the world are invited share their innovative ideas with delegates and possibly win a prize.
“Having programmes like Partners in Learning is very rewarding in a sense that we get to see what teachers are doing and how they are using the tools given to them. When we started in 2003, we had the conviction that technology was playing a part in education, but we also recognised that it wasn’t being done very well,” said Lauren Woodman, Microsoft’s General Manager for Worldwide education and Government programs.
In terms of Africa, Microsoft has already hosted a global forum in Cape Town, which covered a number of local schools within various programmes. “The opportunities in Africa are huge. With all the work we are doing in Africa, there are huge opportunities for technology to have a measurable impact, and some of the most innovative ideas we have seen have come from Africa,” Woodman confirmed.
A number of African projects have won various prizes at previous Partners In Learning events and a signficant amount are expected to be strong contenders this year.
In order to win a prize, individuals have to prove that their use of technology is sustainable and will benefit communities through education – and Africa is not short on ideas.
“We have seen both ends of the spectrum in Africa. We started to do a lot of work with the British Counsel in Africa, and it has been hugely impactful. It is partnerships like those that will help to have impact in the local communities. In Africa we have to re-think how we do things, but digital hubs that combine in-school training is already available.”
The Partners In Learning programme is one of Microsoft’s longest-running initiatives. Woodman said that it is fulfilling to see its sustainability. “We have the great ability to reach educators and schools, and the benefit to work on a lot of projects. Microsoft wanted to do something on a global scale, and though programmes such as this, we can track their progress throughout the world.”