Here's why Microsoft is so focused on fighting education inequality

It’s no secret that Microsoft has been supporting numerous causes around the globe. In a recent blog post, Microsoft Asia Pacific’s public sector general manager, Vivek Puthucode, gave insight into one particular sector Microsoft has been focusing on, improving the quality of education in Asia.

In it, he details the three main areas in which Microsoft is placing their efforts; increasing access to education, improving teacher quality, and maximising resources. “We need to build a bridge between schools in cities and those in rural settlements,” Puthucode explains. “Technology will play a significant role here. For example, we could use previously unused TV frequencies to connect small schools to their big city counterparts. Then, digital education providers such as Clickview can come in and support local teachers with educational videos from cutting-edge educators – and on a whole breadth of topics that otherwise wouldn’t be taught.”

The repurposing of TV frequencies for internet access is something Microsoft has already done in several regions in Africa and has been met with great success. Another technology that Microsoft is familiar with is its own communications software, Skype, and this is something that also has potential in Asia.

“Lessons could also be streamed live: using Skype, a retired teacher in England could talk to a remote classroom in Thailand,” Puthucode theorizes. “Local teachers can therefore be free to increase their creativity, and focus on areas where they can add the greatest value. For example, a Massive Open Online Course could cover basic areas of the curriculum, while the local teacher could then prepare to host a debate between students and develop those life skills. A study by Nesta in the UK already found that this approach improved child performance compared with traditional homework and rote learning.”

Technology could also be used to increase efficiency with parents, teachers, and organizations, especially where machine learning is concerned. Puthucode says of its potential, “On a macro level, education systems can also benefit from machine learning. Greater use of data can show where problems occur in certain subjects in certain districts, allowing for early intervention and efficient management of a schooling system.”

Do you incorporate technology into your teaching or learning? Let us know in the comments below.

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