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Jean-Philippe Courtois - Education Leaders Forum“Economic Competitiveness and Education - A Global Perspective”Remarks by Jean-Philippe Courtois, President, Microsoft InternationalWarsaw, PolandJuly 7, 2010Honorable Minister Professor Barbara Kudrycka, Ministers, distinguished guests – thank you all for being here with us today in Warsaw, and thank you Anthony for the introduction. It’s an honor to have the opportunity to speak with this distinguished audience on such an important topic as education and economic competitiveness. The World Economic Forum’s National Competitiveness Framework tracks 110 indicators which determine a country’s competitiveness. The indicators are grouped into three main categories: Basic Requirements, Efficiency Enhancers and Innovation and Sophistication Factors. Education falls into the Efficiency Enhancers pillar along with and human capacity development, market efficiency, technological readiness and market size of a country. That report and many others will tell you that education is critical in the fight to secure a better future for our youth, and I think that is something we all care about. In addition to being the President of Microsoft International, I am a father of three. I know many of you also hold that job of “parent” in addition to your already big day jobs, and that dual responsibility is surely what drives some of us to focus our time and energy on improving education.But education isn’t just about the youth. I believe that education should be a life-long quest, and that this on-going learning is what keeps life and work interesting. I’ve been with Microsoft for 26 years, and what has kept me going on my path is the opportunity to constantly learn something new. I am very fortunate to have that opportunity, but there are too many people who do not have the same chance.In the next 30 minutes, I want to talk to you about the work Microsoft is doing in the education sector to accomplish one main goal. That goal is Microsoft’s mission statement – to help people and organizations around the world reach their full potential. Education is the single best way to get people of all ages on the path to achieving that, and there is much that ICT can do to help facilitate education. We know, however, that technology is only one piece of the puzzle, so Microsoft is deeply committed to working with governments and other organizations around the world to build stronger and more innovative economies through helping to transform and improve education systems. We are focused on aligning our product portfolio to your top priorities, bringing technology to bear for you and for your students and citizens in a way that helps maximize everyone’s potential.We believe it is the combination of ICT and targeted policy focus that will create the best possible environment for education to thrive and improve a given country’s economic competitiveness. Within that framework, there are three broad topics I’d like to discuss with you today: access, innovation and employability. Improving access to education is critical. The demand for post-secondary education is continuing to rise, especially in the developing world. According to OECD data, the number of potential university graduates between 2003 – 2015 is increasing here in the EU and in the US, however only marginally. When you look at China, the picture is quite different. In China in 2003, there were less than 1M graduates. In 2010, that number will be nearly 3M, and by 2015, it is expected to be around 5M annually – double the number in the EU and US in the same year. A number of factors are fueling this growth, however the financial crisis has certainly played a role. The crisis has increased unemployment, disproportionately for youth in many countries, raising awareness of the need for higher education and skills development. Demand for these increased by as much as 30% in some countries from 2008 to 2009, which is a great problem to have: with more educated populations, countries will see improvements to GDP. However at the same time in many countries, budgets for education are being cut, according to a study by the OECD. It’s clear that we’ll have to rethink traditional models to address the challenges this growth will create.So there’s the dilemma. How do we improve access and quality with less money? Many are looking to ICT to help, and it’s worth noting that those dual objectives are not dissimilar to the drivers of ICT growth more generally. Across industries, companies and governments alike are looking for ways to do more with less. They’re also dealing with an increasingly mobile workforce and customer base who want to access their services in a similar way, regardless of where they are or what device (PC, mobile phone or other) they may be using. This is an industry-wide phenomenon in ICT, and a technology evolution called cloud computing is coming to the forefront to meet its challenges. So what is “the cloud?” The easiest way I can describe it is to make an analogy with electricity. Once upon a time, to get electricity in your own home or business, you had to have your own generator. It was expensive and loud and dirty, but electricity itself was in high demand so some very smart people decided it would be more efficient and more cost effective to build large power plants that would distribute electricity to those who needed it on demand, enabling people and businesses to pay for only what they used. Today with computing, businesses or governments who want to run their own website and applications on a broad scale must buy and manage their own servers. Similarly, consumers who want to store large numbers of photos or videos must continually add storage to their PCs or buy home servers to keep all of their content networked and secure. In essence, “cloud computing” is a way of saying that in the not-so-distant future, many of your IT needs such as computing power and storage will be provided to you as a service, just like a utility provides you with electricity today. This phenomenon of cloud computing will mean that technology providers like Microsoft will build and manage massive data centers through which we can deliver IT services to businesses and consumers alike on an on-demand basis where you pay only for what you use. This is a fundamental shift in computing which we are experiencing now, not unlike the shift to power plants in the 20th century. Governments and large enterprises will save costs and have greater flexibility; small startup businesses will enjoy the same sophisticated IT infrastructure as the largest enterprises; and consumers –the students in this scenario – will benefit from an-ever growing range of applications and mobile services. So back to the idea of access…. ICT and the cloud will enable many more students to access education, at lower costs. It will also enable educators to collaborate more effectively to share information and key learnings with each other. Microsoft’s Live@EDU is one example of a cloud service from Microsoft that’s changing the way the education sector delivers technology services, and there are more than 10,000 institutions worldwide and more than 11M students using Live@EDU today. One is Copenhagen Business School, which selected Live@EDU for its 15,000 students. In addition to the standard email and storage services that come with Live@EDU, the students at Copenhagen Business School are also using Microsoft Office Web Apps, the new online versions of Microsoft’s popular Office applications – Word, Excel and Powerpoint – that enable the students to collaborate on and share documents via the cloud. I should also mention that my alma mater, SKEMA Business School in France, also recently swapped Google Apps for Live@EDU, which was a proud day for me personally!I’d encourage you to attend the expert sessions being presented later today by Paula Vickers, Pro-Vice Chancellor, from Middlesex University and tomorrow by Deon Van der Merwe, Director of Technology from University of South Africa, to learn more about how Live@EDU is helping improve access for students. They have great stories to share, but I won’t steal their thunder this morning!So access… ICT can help improve access, and enabling students to access education is the first critical step. Its importance can’t be overlooked, but once they’re there, how can ICT help innovate the education experience to make it more impactful for students, and more rewarding for educators? This takes me to my second topic: innovation. Many of you are undoubtedly familiar with the Horizon Report, but for those who aren’t, the Horizon Report is an annual evaluation of emerging technologies likely to have a large impact on teaching, learning, or creative inquiry on college and university campuses within the next five years. It is compiled by the New Media Consortium and the Educause Learning Initiative. This year’s report looked at several interesting technologies, two of which I wanted to talk about today – mobile computing, which the study found holds more near term potential within the next 12 months, and also gesture-based computing which it said would come to bear in the longer, 5 year horizon.We see some very exciting work happening in both of these areas. I mentioned mobile earlier when talking about the cloud. The rise of smart phones and all the associated applications and conveniences that have come along with them have created an expectation that if you can do it on a PC, you should be able to do it on a phone. This is true in the business world – a phenomenon we call “the Consumerization of IT” and in many of your countries, it’s true with students today as well. It’s a natural leap for education to embrace mobile computing, as today’s students are incredibly attached to their mobile phones. Watching my own kids, I can say with confidence that it’s even a bit disturbing just how attached they are. So we should take advantage of that attachment to help further their opportunities for education! As an example of the impact of mobile technologies on Higher Education delivery, in Fukuoka, Japan, Cyber University delivers its courses via 3G smart phones from provider Softbank. Cyber University looks at this mobile offering as the fulfillment of a duty to respond to the needs of people who want to learn, even if they are unable to attend a physical university setting, and they’re seeing 86% “attendance” rates for those who enroll. So people now are working towards a degree on trains and buses using their smart phones!In the developing world, mobile also has an important role to play. In Africa, fixed telephone lines are the exception with only 3 in 100 inhabitants having access. In contrast, one in four Africans have a mobile phone, and it is most likely that Africa’s broadband market will be dominated by mobile broadband. One of the recent Microsoft Innovative Schools winners, Cornwall Hill College in South Africa, is taking advantage of this, using cell phones as part of a Grade 11 Life Sciences project to digitally record dissections of different animals, including audio descriptions of the process. The videos are then shared with other learners from disadvantaged schools in the area who could not do their own dissections.On gesture-based computing, we’re also doing some breakthrough work in this space with our new gaming system – Kinect for Xbox 360 – which is coming to Xbox markets this November. Kinect is a whole new way to play where YOU are the controller. Using a sensor, Kinect sees you move, hears your voice and recognizes your face so you can engage in a video game in the same way you would engage in a game in real life. For example, you kick, jump or spin to get your player to do the same in the game. The Kinect experience is designed to be easy, social, collaborative and fun, getting everyone playing together.When you combine the immersive and collaborative capabilities of Kinect with its revolutionary ability for voice, face, and movement recognition, you not only get an excellent gaming platform but also something that has tremendous learning potential. I think we will see applications of this technology which allow students and faculty to participate in three-dimensional worlds to learn and share information more effectively. Imagine students being able to use hand gestures to manipulate and turn a molecular structure to study it in biology. Or imagine dance movement (or any other sport) being tracked using the computer to compare it to experts, providing guidance on how it could be improved. Then imagine them tapping into the power and scale of services like Live@EDU and Xbox Live to share those learnings with friends and collaborators around the world.The possibilities there are really exciting, and there’s lots of work still to do to make those imagined scenarios reality, but what we know today with certainty is that more collaboration, interactivity and ease of access can and will be achieved by innovations in ICT, helping to enhance and extend education to many more.With all this amazing technology innovation comes a need for broader skills for employability. Industry demand for technology-based skills continues to present a challenge to countries reaching their full potential. Any uneven distribution of skills, information or technology will create divides in society and hinder citizens’ ability to access jobs. Ensuring the labor force has the requisite skills to compete for the best jobs is critical for any country’s economic well-being, and computer literacy is quickly becoming the fourth key skill required by employers alongside, reading, writing and arithmetic. In fact, a recent study by IDC here in Europe concluded that in 5 years, more than 90% of all jobs will require ICT skills of some kind – almost independent of sector, country and size of company.There are a number of programs Microsoft runs to help people acquire the necessary ICT skills and equip them for the workforce. Students to Business is one such program, through which we work with our partner community and local education institutions to provide the curriculum and training needed to ensure students are prepared to meet the innovation needs of today’s businesses. Students in the program benefit from unique mentoring, training and certification opportunities, as well as access to a network of potential employers in the local community. This program has been rolled out in more than 70 countries, connecting more than 500,000 students with new ICT skills.As an example of one of our largest successes, over the last 3 years, Microsoft Brazil has worked with 32 colleges and universities in that country, partnering with districts in 20 out of 27 states to train more than 150,000 students on Microsoft technologies and to prepare them for IT jobs in their local software economy.? By holding regular roundtables with companies, we were able to identify basics on development, infrastructure, database and web as the most valuable skills needed by the 400 companies looking to hire in the next 6 months.?We’re also doing some interesting partnership work that started in Ireland where after a lengthy process, Microsoft Ireland was recently granted accreditation by the Higher Education and Training Awards Council for our major technical certifications. This means that Microsoft technical certifications can now serve as transferable academic credit in all of Ireland’s Higher Education bodies. This is great news for students in Ireland, as it provides greater student mobility and more flexible routes to gain degrees and to further higher education. We are the first commercial entity in Europe to achieve academic accreditation for its certifications, and we will now be replicating this process across Europe wherever the European Credit Transfer & Accumulation System applies.Beyond the basic ICT skills however, employability in the 21st century looks different than in the past. Thanks to the influence ICT has had, the workplace has undergone a restructuring, and companies now seek a different kind of employee. The skills of individuals valued now are: the ability to think critically and creatively; to work cooperatively; and to be flexible enough to adapt to the evolving use of technology in the workplace and society as a whole. However, extensive data show that the education systems of today have not kept pace with the dramatic changes of the economy at large. In part, the challenges surrounding getting schools and colleges to change is the result of using traditional assessments that are inadequate to measure 21st century skills. Shrinking resources and market pressures mean that education can no longer be the sole responsibility of governments. It requires a multi-stakeholder commitment that includes the private sector partnering with public institutions and civil society to help build the future workforce. This is why Microsoft has partnered with Intel and Cisco in a project called “The Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills” which we began in 2008 in six countries - Australia, Finland, Portugal, Singapore, the UK, and USA.It is a research collaboration designed to accelerate global education reform by mobilizing the international educational, political and business communities to help transform the teaching, learning and measurement of 21st century skills. The project, which is 18 months into its planned three year term, is focused on defining those skills and developing ways to measure them through a multi-stakeholder effort, including stakeholders from government, commercial, non-profits and academia.?As employers of tomorrow's talent, Cisco, Intel and Microsoft have a common interest in ensuring that the skills acquired by students today are closely aligned with the requirements of industry. We view our role in this effort and all our employability efforts as supporting education experts, policy makers and academics in their efforts to ensure that today’s students are as prepared as possible for tomorrow’s jobs.?There is much work to be done across these three key areas of access, innovation and employability, and as Microsoft, we’re excited about the potential we see in cloud computing and other ICT solutions to have significant impact on improving education and national competitiveness. The education industry is facing many challenges, but in these challenges, we see opportunities. It is the people in this room – the education leaders – working together that will make the difference in turning those opportunities into realities that benefit our youth, our broader communities, and our national and international agendas. Our ambitions are big, and we know yours are too. We look forward to continuing to partner closely with each of you to achieve those near-term goals on which we’re all focused today, and to achieve the next set of goals which are only small seeds of ideas today. We will keep coming to the table with new ideas, and we know you will too. We look forward to it. Thank you for coming and for giving me the opportunity to speak to you today. Enjoy the rest of the conference. ................
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