Partners in Learning: Tearing Down the Classroom Walls

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In case it wasn’t written on your calendars, today is World Teacher Day, your chance to make amends and show appreciation to the men and women who helped equip you for the “real world.” Cliché or not, they really do have one of the toughest, most unappreciated jobs you could ask for.

One of our most important commitments as a company is giving teachers better tools to do their jobs. That includes more than merely giving them a better word processor or spreadsheet program. It’s about helping them reimagine the classroom and make more of an impact on each of their students.

The above video is about a school in Bogota, Colombia that epitomizes this concept. Colegio Fontan is a K-12 school that has done away with the traditional classroom – instead, teachers work with each student one-on-one to develop a “personalized education plan” that they work on independently.

This frees up students to complete a grade in less time than the traditional nine months, so they can spend more time perfecting their backstroke. What makes it all possible is an on-line platform that shows the student’s progress and teacher assessments. Students can also access their curriculum and assignments, or contact their teacher via Windows Live Messenger.

Colegio Fontan is part of Microsoft Partners in Learning, a program that looks beyond the traditional classroom setup for more effective ways to learn. Seven thousand schools around the world are in the program, and Colegio Fontan is one of 33 “Mentor” schools that are coaching others in trying to make similar changes.

Today, we announced the names of 80 or so schools that have been approved to be part of Partners in Learning. Participating schools can track their progress and share results or best practices with others in the program.

The video above, and others like it, are also available on the Microsoft Showcase Partners in Learning Channel. Pretty inspiring stuff.

Oh and on this day of all days, don’t forget to give a shout out to your teachers – the World Teacher Day site has some ecards to help you with that and the hashtag for today is #WTD2011