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Gifted Tasmanian School students given support by Microsoft Australia's Partners in Learning education assistance programme

18 November, 2004 | Archived Post
Tasmania becomes second state to join Microsoft's Partners in Learning programmeHOBART, Australia, 15 November 2004

Press Release:
Microsoft Australia and the Tasmanian Government today announced a new education assistance programme, the Partners in Learning Project for Tasmanian government schools, part of Microsoft's worldwide Partners in Learning programme.

Tasmania becomes the second Australian state to launch Partners in Learning and will use the Partners in Learning Project to provide funding to support a number of initiatives. The most significant of these will be a professional learning program aimed at developing Online Mentors capable of designing and delivering online extension and challenge programs for gifted students. This initiative will form part of the Ad Astra program currently running in Tasmania.

Microsoft is also offering a $10,000 per annum award to acknowledge 'success' schools and teachers who are implementing technology in innovative ways.

“All Tasmanian schools share a vision for improving education outcomes through the effective use of information and communication technology in learning and teaching,” said George Stavrakakis, State Manager for Tasmania, Microsoft Australia.

“The Microsoft Partners in Learning Project, which is part of the Ad Astra programme, will help us achieve this vision of providing equity and access to the benefits of learning technologies, ensuring the availability of quality software and hardware and facilitating continuing investments in infrastructure, professional development and online learning materials.”

The Tasmanian Government's Ad Astra programme provides online resources, eLearning experiences and managed online programmes for early childhood and primary students who are identified as gifted. It facilitates collaboration and social interaction between gifted students in diverse locations.

Ad Astra also provides professional learning to develop a group of teachers who are able to take advantage of eLearning approaches for this group of students. These teachers are part of the Campus in-school Online mentor (OM) professional learning network. Ad Astra Partners in Learning will facilitate state-wide professional learning and support the Online Mentor Network and develop the capacity of teachers to become quality deliverers of online extension programmes, becoming Online Mentors in their own school and districts.

Microsoft's Partners in Learning is designed to support greater access to technology skills training for Australian teachers and to improve educational outcomes. Microsoft Australia will invest more than AU $10 million in cash and resources nationally over the next five years as similar joint initiatives are rolled out across Australia's states and territories.

The Partners in Learning programmes consist of key investments, software and training and works through the partnership between Microsoft with state and territory education departments. Partners in Learning seeks to reward outstanding teachers as well as provide professional development to teachers who act as technology and educational change agents at their school.

“The educational environment has changed substantially over the past 10 years,” said Mr. Stavrakakis.

“The widespread use of the internet and the push towards digital technologies means today's students are very comfortable with technology. Today's education system runs the risk of becoming irrelevant unless the gap is bridged between how students live and how they learn.

“Through Partners in Learning, as well as a number of other education initiatives, Microsoft is trying to make technology more accessible and relevant in the classroom and to develop the professional capacities, skill and understanding of teachers.”

The Partners in Learning programme is chaired in Australia by an independent local Advisory Council of industry experts whose role is to determine which specific projects receive funding and to make the most of the opportunities the programme offers.

The Partners in Learning Advisory Council members include: internationally recognised educator and consultant, Bruce Dixon; President of the Australian Council of Deans Education, Mary Kalantzis; Secretary (Chief Executive) of the Department of Education in Tasmania, Martyn Forrest; Member of the Advisory Board of the faculty of Business and Economics at Monash University and a Fellow of the Australian Principals' Centre, Ken Rowe; Manager of Enterprise and Vocational education (K-12) at Swan Education District Office, Sandra Robinson; and National President of the Australian Council for Education Leaders, Jenny Lewis.

According to Dr. Forrest, “The big winners in the Partners in Learning programme are Australian teachers and students. This is a significant educational initiative being undertaken by Microsoft Australia and I fully support the programme. Most importantly, I look forward to the many success stories that are bound to come out of the programme.”

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About Partners in Learning
Partners in Learning is a worldwide initiative in which Microsoft is partnering with Federal and State governments to provide investment into education. In Australia, Microsoft is committing $10 million in cash and resources over the next five years. Through a series of programmes, key investments, software and training, Microsoft seeks to reward outstanding teachers as well as provide professional development to teachers who act as technology and educational change agents at their school.

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

For further information:
Samantha Herron
Corporate Communications Manager
Microsoft Australia
Ph: 02 9870 2316 or 0412 589 951
Kieran Moore
Howorth Communications                            
02 8281 3830 or 0415 335 057                                


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