Monday, February 22, 2016

Microsoft Survey: Educator Training Key to Optimizing Technology in Classrooms in Asia Pacific

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While teachers recognize technology will play a bigger role in improving pedagogy, challenges include shortage of training, inadequate budgets, and lack of curriculum integration

Microsoft today released the findings from its inaugural Microsoft Asia EduTech Survey 2016 which polled close to 200 educators in the Asia Pacific region. According to the study, educators acknowledged that technology will continue to play an integral role in improving pedagogy, but flagged that the top challenge faced in optimizing technology was a lack of training to do so.

According to the survey respondents, educators in the region (95%) recognize the importance of technology’s role in transforming education and inspiring students. The top three uses cited were to enhance classroom learning experiences; to improve efficiency in their role; and to better communicate with students.

While almost all educators (96%) are already influencing technology decisions in their work, nearly all of them (97%) wish to do more. In fact, they unanimously (100%) agree that technology will play a bigger role in transforming and improving education systems in the future. 

“Educators in Asia Pacific are cognizant that technology has the power to expand the impact of education and accelerate the growth potential of every youth. Many are already finding inspiring ways to transform learning in and out of the classroom through technology and new pedagogy models. From that aspect, educators are likened to superheroes with their passion and aspiration to accomplish the extraordinary, as they push boundaries for the benefit of their students. However, we need to understand that technology is a means – not an end. Thus, we are committed to sharing our expertise with governments, organizations and schools to help them build a technology roadmap that supports their vision and take a holistic approach,” said Don Carlson, education lead, Microsoft Asia Pacific.

The survey also revealed some of the challenges that educators in Asia Pacific are faced with today when it comes to implementing technology in the classrooms. Lack of training was cited as the biggest challenge to optimizing technology in classrooms (53%). The other challenges include inadequate budgets (51%) and a lack of integration of technology with curriculum (46%). These reinforce the notion that a holistic approach to education and technology is required for teachers to effectively drive transformation in pedagogy.

Hurdles aside, educators are optimistic about the usage of technology in the future and are keen to explore innovative ways of teaching and learning. The top three technology advancements educators hope to see in their work are to: enable personalized learning and individualized education (57%); enable classrooms to be more immersive and fun (53%); and see more intelligent and automated services to assist in administration and classroom teaching duties (46%).

Today, educators are able to access applications leveraging the popular video game Minecraft or take part in Skype Field Trips or Mystery Skype for immersive and inclusive learning experiences through doing and exploring. In January, Microsoft announced its further investment in Minecraft with a new version customized for schools called Minecraft Education Edition. The new title will be available for free trial in the third quarter of 2016, offering an expanded set of features, including interactive maps and student portfolios. Additionally, Microsoft has started the public preview of Learning Tools for OneNote, which is designed specifically to improve reading and writing experiences for all students, including for those with learning disabilities like dyslexia.

The survey was conducted on-site during the Bett Asia Leadership Summit 2015 held in Singapore last November, with respondents that included teachers from across all levels from pre-school to post-graduate, as well as policy makers involved in education from across 18 countries in Asia Pacific[1]. To help schools understand the best practices for successful pedagogy transformation for the 21st century, the Microsoft Education Transformation Framework outlines 10 best practices they need to ask to help fast track system-wide transformation by summarizing decades of quality research.

[1]Respondents of the Microsoft Asia EduTech Survey 2016 came from 18 countries: Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam.

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  1. I rest only in one situation when I sit down to play the game Minecraft. In my opinion, this is the best and most interesting activity for fun and a great opportunity to learn to think on a scale. And when you're not playing alone, and this feature is available on the bedwars server in general, I get incredible pleasure from the gameplay. Because such servers not only have interesting tasks, but also allow me to defend myself against enemy attacks in the process, and I really need this feature, because I often died while playing alone.

  2. Minecraft is a beautiful and engaging game, where you can build anything you imagine. I've been playing Minecraft lego mod 1.7.10 since I was a child, and it's never lost steam. It keeps getting better, with new mods constantly released to dramatically improve gameplay.

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