In a short but free-wheeling conversation with Lutz Ziob, General Manager of Microsoft Learning, and Jeff Johnson, North America Academic Area Lead, Microsoft Learning on Tuesday, December 14, about the Microsoft IT Academy program, I learned lots of interesting stuff as I sought to follow up on my 11/17/2010 blog post “Interesting team-up between NC and MS.” This post discusses an agreement between the State of North Carolina and Microsoft, wherein all of their high schools will offer the IT Academy Essentials materials that focus on Microsoft Office skills and knowledge, and a significant number will also teach the IT Academy Advanced materials that focus on mainline MCT, MCTS and even some MCITP topics, as well as the new MTA (Microsoft Technology Associate) exams.
I had speculated that while North Carolina might be early to this party, other states can’t be too far behind. I was right, and was also pleased to learn that by and large states are more interested in the Advanced Program (MCP/MTA) curriculum and a bit less so in the Essentials (Microsoft Office/MOS) curriculum. Mr. Ziob also informed me that since Microsoft Learning took up the MS IT Academy program more seriously in 2007, membership in the program among academic institutions worldwide has doubled from around 4,000 to 8,000 participants. I also learned that all of the State of Georgia’s community and technical colleges are in the IT Academy program, as is the entire SUNY system in the State of New York. Teaching and training arms for the US Army and US Navy are also large-scale and enthusiastic IT Academy members as well. Outside the US, there’s plenty of activity, too. 3,500 institutions belong to the IT Academy in EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Asia) with another 1,500 in the Pacific Rim, and a growing presence in Latin America. In short, the Microsoft IT Academy is contributing curriculum materials and related technology to classrooms all over the world.
Looking ahead, Mr. Ziob informed me that what he finds most exciting about the IT Academy program — as a former classroom instructor himself — is that more government officials and educators are recognizing information technology as a key ingredient inwhat he called “going from learning to earning.” He’s also very pleased that the “broad technologies that Microsoft has made the act of teaching and learning themselves more effective.” He went on to cite how average English mastery test results in one school system jumped from scores in the sixtieth percentiles into the nineties as a result of adopting the MS IT Academy’s Essentials program. He also promised me that we would talk again, at greater length, about what’s going on with the IT Academy program, and where it’s going, in concert with Mr. Johnson, who provided most of the nuts and bolts details I reported in this blog.
I look forward to it!