Thursday, February 23, 2017
Microsoft in the News:
Back in 2014, Microsoft purchased Minecraft for $2.5 Billion. On January 19, 2016, they introduced us to Minecraft: Education Edition. Microsoft took a game enjoyed by millions of kids and turned it into a learning experience. It is still the same fun world that attracted so many people to it in the first place. The Education Edition, however, has a new emphasis on creativity, collaboration and problem solving. In other words, it teaches the skills people need to thrive in the 21st century.
It used to be said that, “What is good for GM is good for America.” That was no doubt true in the industrial age. In the information age, we change “GM” to “Microsoft” and the statement remains true. What is good for Microsoft is a well educated population from which to draw employees. In this regard, I think that this statement is more true in the information age than it was in the industrial age. And Microsoft is prepared to do its part to help us all out.
Microsoft has spent millions over the years promoting the education of students in the areas of coding and technology. Last year Microsoft asked all of its employees to participate by being a teacher in the Hour of Code in support of computer science education. There have been almost 5,000 Microsoft employees who have participated since this call to arms .
With the success of Minecraft: Education Edition, Microsoft recently expanded their support for it by creating the Global Minecraft Mentor program. Sixty mentors representing nineteen countries will be contributing their expertise in order to support educators in their quest to bring immersive learning environments into the classroom.
It has been said that if you have made it to the top, it is your responsibility to send the ladder back down for others. If you are interested in helping prepare future generations, here is an easy way to start: https://code.org/volunteer
Twice now I have volunteered to teach a course on coding at our local high school. I was inspired to do this out of frustration with the lack of decent computer courses offered at the high school level. Code.org made it quick and easy for me by providing everything I needed.
Now there is a second easy way to help our youth. Introduce your kids, and your kid’s teachers to Minecraft Education Edition. We all have a responsibility for our country’s future. This is an easy way for you to do your part.
“Education isn’t something you can finish” Isaac Asimov:
The world of science and technology is moving forward at an ever increasing rate. If you are standing still, education-wise, you are falling behind. This applies to both the student and the educator.
When a high school doesn’t offer inspiring and relevant computer and other science courses, we as a society are failing our youth. When a college or university isn’t providing current software for students to learn on, we are failing our youth. When adult learning courses aren’t readily available, flexible to accommodate a busy work schedule, and affordable, we are failing our society. When we, as tech professionals are not engaged in learning, we are failing ourselves. As was stated recently in the Economist, “When education fails to keep pace with technology, the result is inequality.” In other words, the failure to educate either yourself or the population in general, leads to poorer employment opportunities, and a lack of job security. As a nation, we all sink or rise with this educational tide.
As it stands now, it is mostly high achievers that are actively engaged in lifelong learning. That alone says volumes of its importance. But as these high achievers succeed and grow, those standing still fall behind, and the inequality within society expands.
I have always found it odd that we think nothing of spending tens of thousands of dollars (usually financed through debt) on our education as soon as we exit high school, yet, as soon as we exit university, our education budget drops to zero. We get our first job and instantly we feel it is our employer’s responsibility to ensure you are qualified to work.
Don’t get me wrong, as an employer, I invest in my employee’s education. But is it really my responsibility? I want and need an educated work force, so I do what I can. Most companies are moving in the opposite direction. Most companies seem to fear that they will educate their employees and then they will leave. I fear that my employees will not be educated in current tech, and will stay!
There is a Jewish proverb that states: “If you drop gold and books, pick up first the books and then the gold.” It is a reminder that education should be your primary goal. Knowledge is weightless, so feel free to accumulate as much as possible.