New Research Shows Students Not Getting the Right Skills for Work and Life

By Microsoft Corp., PRNE
Saturday, January 8, 2011

Innovative Teaching and Learning Research expands to include new countries, and Microsoft Partners in Learning provides a new tool to allow any school to measure its success in teaching 21st century skills.

LONDON, January 10, 2011 - Microsoft Corp. today announced the preliminary findings of its
multicountry Innovative Teaching and Learning (ITL) Research, which shows
that students can get the skills they need for work and life in the 21st
century through school, but in practice, they rarely do. While education
leaders consistently call for change, educational policies and systems in
most countries have not yet provided clear definitions of 21st century
skills, or guidance to teachers on how to teach and assess these skills.


This ongoing study, sponsored by Microsoft's Partners in Learning
program, is part of an ambitious international effort to assess innovative
teaching practices - such as student-driven learning, extending learning
outside the classroom, and the use of information and communication
technologies (ICT) in the classroom - and their effect on how much students
demonstrate skills such as teamwork, problem-solving and effective
communication. The study aims to help administrators and policy-makers better
understand the relationship between policy intentions, classroom practices
and student learning outcomes in a broad variety of social, economic and
cultural settings.

The pilot year of the research was managed by SRI International and took
place in coordination with the governments of Finland, Indonesia, Russia and
Senegal, which were selected because of their diverse education systems.

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

Key Findings of the Pilot Year Research

Key findings from the ITL Research showed that when educators develop
learning activities that require 21st century skills, students demonstrate
them. However, more than 50 percent of learning activities scored the lowest
possible score, suggesting that many educators are only in the early stages
of teaching these skills. It also showed that educators need clear
definitions of these skills, examples of how to develop them through teaching
and learning, and a way to measure their success.

In addition, the research showed that technology is part of the equation.
When educators have technology in the classroom - as opposed to in a lab or
library - it is more likely they will use it as a tool for teaching 21st
century skills.

"There is obviously a strong link between technology and innovation in
the classroom, but technology alone is not the answer," Salcito said.
"Technology must be combined with innovative teaching practices, supported by
school leaders who allow technology to be used in ways that support deeper
engagement in learning."

The capabilities and potential impact of this research prompted four
additional countries to join the research project. Australia, England, Mexico
and the United States have joined the project for 2011 and are sponsoring the
research in their countries directly.

While the ITL Research is taking place currently in eight countries, its
findings are relevant to education policy directions in many countries.

"Effective policy-making requires a solid and coherent knowledge base,"
said Johannessen Oystein, deputy director general at the Norwegian Ministry
of Education and Research. "The ITL Research project is an important
contribution to our common knowledge base. It goes right to the heart of how
technology affects the teaching and learning process; solid methodology comes
out of the project, and the results are shared in a very positive way."

The study was guided by outside advisors from the Organisation for
Economic Co-operation and Development, UNESCO and the International Society
for Technology in Education. During the pilot year, self-reported and
observed data was collected from 25 schools and 600 teachers per country.
Full details of the ITL Research project and the reports can be found by

New Research Tool Fills Measurement Need

A key finding of the ITL pilot year was that educators do not have clear
definitions or examples of how to develop students' 21st century skills, but
they said participating in the research itself provided them with the
necessary definitions and examples.

To help schools develop common definitions and measurement practices,
Microsoft is announcing a new free tool - the Partners in Learning School
Research - which allows any interested school or education system in the
world to conduct its own research based on ITL Research and measure
innovative teaching practices at the school level.

"When schools and educational systems begin to clearly define, measure
and recognize innovative teaching practices, educators see an alignment
between the rhetoric of change and the reality of teaching and learning,"
said Dr. Maria Langworthy, director, ITL Research. "But most educators are
still constrained to teaching traditional required curriculums and content,
so it's hard for them to focus on 21st century skills and change their
teaching practices."

The surveys are available today in more than 30 languages at

About Microsoft Partners in Learning

The Microsoft Partners in Learning program is a 10-year, nearly $500
commitment by Microsoft to transform education systems around the
world. Announced in 2003, the Partners in Learning program helps governments
envision a new future for education in their countries; provides leadership
and change management information to school leaders; works to strengthen
teachers' capacity to use technology effectively in the classroom; and
provides greater access to technology for teachers and students. Microsoft
believes in expanding the power of education through personalized learning.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is the worldwide leader in
software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize
their full potential.

Joanna Timmermann of Weber Shandwick, +44-207-067-0583, jtimmermann at / NOTE TO EDITORS: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft's Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at

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