Global technology giant Microsoft has partnered with The Educator as a sponsor for the second annual Australian Education Awards.
The Awards bring together the nation’s leading schools, principals, department heads and teachers to celebrate excellence in the K-12 education industry.
Last year, the inaugural event was attended by a full house of over 500 of Australia’s education elite from across the country. Awards were presented in 24 categories recognising the work of the schools and individuals making their mark in the sector for an evening of celebration.
Below, The Educator speaks to Microsoft’s senior director of education, Steven Miller, about why Microsoft has chosen to sponsor the Australian Education Awards, and the impact he believes the event will have on the education sector more broadly.
TE: Why has Microsoft chosen to partner with The Educator for the Australian Education Awards?
SM: One of the things we’ve had, from the very inception of Microsoft, is an incredibly long and proud history of having a dedicated segment in education. It’s over 30 years that we’ve had an education part of our business, and it’s not just in how we service the education sector, but how we engineer products for it. So we know that developing technology to improve learning outcomes, student success and the operations of education is incredibly important. Our technology would not be anywhere near as powerful as it is without the practices, innovation and hard work that teachers in particular bring to our schools. Because of this, we feel that it is important to celebrate the work and success that teachers and leaders in school have achieved. Without the passion that they have toward their work with their children, Australia, and the world would be a worse place, so we want to have any opportunity to celebrate that where we can.
TE: Why are events like this so important for the education sector more broadly?
SM: Celebrating the work that educators do in an area where recognition can sometimes be hard to come by, is really important, so we want to highlight the work that teachers do and how technology brings to life the imagination and the work that teachers do. We feel that it’s our duty to recognise the talent, innovation and passion of teachers around the country. In the K-12 sector in particular, these are the people that are educating the hope of our nation. For us, that is an incredibly important thing to be a part of, so we are delighted to invest in recognising that for educators throughout the country.
TE: What will Microsoft be doing in the year ahead to build on the work it has done and/or any exciting new developments?
SM: What you’ll see over the next 12 months is a continuation of the work we’ve always done with the sector. We try to have really deep partnerships with education departments across all the schooling sectors, as well as to outline what exactly it is they need for their systems. In Microsoft, we’re very fortunate to have a large dedicated engineering group who look across the productivity side of the fence at the usage of Microsoft Teams and how we make teams a system that is much more appropriate for sharing and learning throughout the classroom and system. So looking at how we bring spaces together, how we solve challenges that make analytics easy for teachers to understand, identify who is performing well and who isn’t, and the tips and tactics teachers can use in an automated way to intervene and make sure that no student is left behind. You’ll see that type of innovation brought to our Office suite and also brought deep within Windows. We’ll also continue to work on innovations like Power BI, which is designed to make it easy for teachers to understand what is happening with their classroom or year group, then provide tailored suggestions on how to use their innovation and ingenuity to solve some of those challenges. So, you’ll see us deeply partner with the education system on their specific requirements, mobilise the large engineering talent that we’ve got that is dedicated to education and really start to work on some of the most pressing challenges to lead the transformation in education. Other areas that you’ll see is increasing work that we’re doing with our partners in LinkedIn to provide professional development platforms that support teachers who want to get ahead and bring their own ingenuity and learning to the fore. Microsoft is also continuing to work with the different education systems with regards to the educational value and opportunities inherent in Minecraft, which helps students learn in different ways and do things they enjoy. More of that innovation you’ll see over the next 12 months.
Nominations for the 2019 Australian Education Awards will open on Monday 18 February. For more information visit www.educatorawards.com.