Microsoft has announced a new partnership with Irish educational website TeachNet (www.teachnet.ie), a move that takes the software giant into closer proximity to the teaching community and the education market as a whole.
Now in its fourth year, TeachNet provides primary and secondary teachers with skills and support to develop online learning projects that are linked to the curriculum and available to be shared among other teachers.
The Microsoft announcement comes at a significant time for TeachNet, following on from the Broadband for Schools initiative, content is seen as the next big challenge for the education sector; TeachNet’s plan is to assume a role as a secondary content provider to Scoilnet, the official Irish schools portal. Predominantly funded by the Citigroup Foundation, additional support from Atlantic Philanthropies has run its course and it was looking for additional backing to help it fulfil its ambitions.
Microsoft will provide some financial and technical support but it will also endeavour to make a connect between TeachNet and its own global initiative, the Innovative Teachers programme. Like TeachNet the project is based around teachers sharing content and resources and the hope is that successful participants of the Microsoft scheme can progress to TeachNet and then graduate with a Diploma/Master’s in Digital Learning in conjunction with St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra.
There was immediate evidence that the initiative was having a positive impact for Microsoft when the Minister for Education and Science, Mary Hanafin TD, came to its Dublin HQ to hand out grant awards to 46 teachers who has successfully taken part in the TeachNet programme.
Speaking at yesterday’s event, Joe Macri, Microsoft Ireland’s general manager, expressed Microsoft’s commitment to the Irish schools system: “Globally we are investing a quarter of a billion dollars in education. We are currently working with the minister and her department, ensuring that Ireland will see its fair share of that investment.”
By Ian Campbell
Pictured is Education Minister Mary Hanafin TD at the TeachNet awards.