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Kiwi schools a class act

29 Sep 11

An Auckland college has been selected as a Pathfinder school in Microsoft’s prestigious Partners in Learning programme, one of only 51 schools to make the grade worldwide in 2011.

Howick College is the second kiwi school to be admitted to the programme, joining neighbours Botany Downs Secondary College (BDSC), who were inducted last year.

As a Pathfinder school, Howick College will play a larger role in the Microsoft Partners in Learning professional development network, which connects over 4 million teachers in 114 countries.

Evan Blackman, education manager at Microsoft New Zealand, says the announcement will have a great impact on students at the college.

"It is no use throwing technology at teachers and expecting them to know what to do with it,” Blackman says.

"The Microsoft Partners in Learning programme is designed to enable educators and provide them with the tools and resources to best educate their students.”

The announcement comes as Microsoft winds up its Education Roadshow, a tour of the country’s main centres promoting its schools programme.

The final event in the tour will be held in Dunedin next week, following demonstrations in Christchurch, Wellington and Hamilton, as well as three locations in Auckland.

Mark Woods, Microsoft education account manager, says the roadshows split into three sessions, one targeting principals, one teachers, and one school IT managers.

 "We find the teacher sessions the most fun, they really get to play with the technology and start thinking about what they could do with it,” Woods says.


The hard part is convincing principals the technology is affordable, and IT managers it is easy to install. 

Luckily, a huge portion of Microsoft's education offering is free - it also helps to have BDSC associate principal Karen Brinsden on hand to provide a real-world perspective on how technology has helped the college. 

"Karen's sessions are the key," Woods says.

Microsoft is currently seeking entries for its 2011 Innovative Educator Awards – go here for more, or here to visit the Partners in Learning site.

Image: rows of notebook-tablets at Microsoft's Education Roadshow.