Benefits of the Microsoft Innovative Education Programme

In this post, I’m going to look at the potential benefits that being involved in the Microsoft Innovative Education programme can bring to you as a teacher with improved teaching methods and innovative practices, your students with improved learning outcomes, and your school/college/FE/HE organisation with a higher standard of teaching; greater evidence of good practice in your organisation; a deeper understanding of technology and how it can enhance learning in the classroom;

Quite simply, though, there is far too much to cover in one post, so I’ll link extensively and follow up with further posts no more specific topics.

One disclaimer though, I do not work for Microsoft, have not been hired by them/sponsored or received any type of inducement for this post – it is purely because to highlight the benefits of what they provide (for free!) to teachers.

The Microsoft Innovative Education Programme

From Microsoft

Starting Your Journey

There’s a lot to talk about in this programme – far too much for this one post, but I’ll try to give you as full a picture of what it can offer as possible.

The site is a virtual paradise of professional development course for educators of all levels – the courses can vary from learning the intricacies of a Microsoft programme (which are usually listed under the Teacher Academy) and how to apply it to your classroom, to using Minecraft in education – a programme in and of itself has a vast number of applications in education at various levels, not just primary education, but engineering and computer science. Then there are courses that are centred on teaching pedagogy: how this has changed with technology, but more importantly, how we can utilise it to the benefit of our students and enhance our teaching methods in the classroom.

I’m not going to list every type of course, as there are simply too many and it wouldn’t make interesting reading, suffice to say, there are courses for every type of interest – provided you’re interested in learning!

The courses are all self-paced online and within the site, so free.

The Levels of MIE

The Microsoft Innovative Education (MIE) programmes recognises educators around the world who are using technology to pave the way for their peers to enhance learning and student outcomes. There are a variety of programmes to help both educators who are just beginning this journey, as well as programmes for more experienced educators who are leaders in innovative education.

There are three main levels that chart an educators progress through from beginner to expert: Certified MIE; MIE Trainer; MIE Expert.

Certified MIE

Certified Microsoft Innovative Education

Starting the journey in becoming a Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE). MIEs use Microsoft tools in the classroom and have learned the fundamentals of some of these tools.

This is the first step on a journey of joining a professional learning network of enthusiastic educators who come together to learn, share, and grow. After joining the Educator community and earning 1,000 points, you earn your certificate and become a Microsoft Innovative Educator.

MIE Trainer

Microsoft Innovative Educator Trainer

MIE Trainers are educators, government or district trainers, professional development specialists, or affiliates who want to train educators and school leaders on the effective use of technology in teaching and learning.

To do this requires the completion of either a two-day in-person Trainer Academy or the online Trainer Academy. This position requires the commitment to train 100 educators per year to become an official MIE Trainer. You do not need to be an MIE Expert in order to become an MIE Trainer.

MIE Expert

Microsoft Innovative Education Expert

As you become skilled at integrating technology into the classroom, there is the opportunity to submit a self-nomination to join the MIE Expert program. This is an exclusive program created to recognise global educators using technology to pave the way for their peers for better learning and student outcomes.

MIE Experts will work closely with Microsoft to lead innovation in education to advocate and share their thoughts about the effective use of technology in education with peers and policymakers, to provide insight for Microsoft on new products and tools for education, and exchange best practices as they work together to promote innovation in teaching and learning. Self-nominations are accepted annually between May 15 and July 15.

21st Century Education for the 21st Century Learner

This is a  course within the Microsoft Innovative Education programme and forms an integral part of the Innovative Education programme. It provides a rationale for the need to develop 21st century skills among our students. Students today are training for a world that doesn’t exist yet – school leavers in June 2018, who graduate from university after a four year course in 2022 will face an employment market looking for a skillset that we won’t know they need until we get there. This course will seek to help educators develop the skills of students by teaching them

The course presents the key 21st century skills of; collaboration, knowledge construction, self-regulation, problem-solving and innovation, information and communications technology (ICT) for learning, skilled communication. It explores what learning looks like in the 21st century and how innovative teaching practices can support student learning to develop these skills.

Course objectives:

To frame and answer the below questions:

  • Innovative teaching and learning: what is “innovative teaching practice”?
  • What are the characteristics of a “21st century educator”?
  • What are the characteristics of a “21st century learner”?
  • What school and system factors most support innovative teaching practices?

Microsoft Virtual Academy

Microsoft Virtual Academy provides free online training by world-class experts to help you build  and improve your technical skills and advance your career.

There are a range of learning pathways available including:

  • Mobile & Web Development
  • Game Development
  • Network, Infrastructure and Cloud Engineering
  • Database Administration, Architects and Developers
  • Students section – teaching the basics

When you arrive at the Microsoft Academy, you’ll see a notice on the top bar that it is being phased out, with complete site retirement in late 2019. It is being replaced by Microsoft Learn. This new site has updated content and is more structured around the Microsoft qualifications. The great news is that it’s all free – until you want to take the exams that is.

Courses and Resources

The resources section on the Microsoft Innovative Education platform are single pages designed to give you information on a specific topic. You will find a wide range of resources from an extensive list of free tools available to you from Microsoft. You can filter these by product or topic and you will find a wealth or resources designed to get you up and running today.

The products are organised by category:

  • Office 365
  • One Note and Sway
  • Apps, Surface, Windows and Bing
  • STEM and Minecraft
  • Skype in the Classroom
  • Pedagogy
  • Programs and events

Because of the nature of my own educational environment, I have tended to focus on Office 365 (as my college has these accounts); One Note (it’s a great note taking tool and can synchronise across devices); Pedagogy (to improve my own knowledge and standard of classroom teaching). The others may be of greater use in schools, but as I haven’t had the need to use them, I can’t comment on how good they are.

The MIE Community

The community aspect of the Microsoft Innovative Education progamme is global. Yo can connect with educators across the world, which for some learning environments could be advantageous. It can also be useful for networking with educators who are closer to home.

Educators can join discussions in areas of professional interest to share best practice and learn from fellow educators across the world.

Through the MIE community, educators also have the opportunity to:

  • Access to professional and career development opportunities and certifications
  • Share your expertise with world-renowned educators and specialists to scale their innovations
  • Present in Microsoft’s global webinar calls
  • Participate in focus groups giving feedback to development teams on Microsoft products
  • Join invitation-only special events from Microsoft
  • Share your passion for Microsoft with peers and policymakers, and through social media, blogs and videos
  • Test new products while in beta form and participate in pre-release programs for certain education-related tools.
  • Represent Microsoft through product demonstrations and by attending events
  • Build educator capacity in your community (school, district or at training events) by speaking, training and/or coaching colleagues and inviting them to participate in the online Microsoft Educator Community
  • Collaborate with innovative educators across the globe
  • Host regional events showcasing your use of Microsoft technology in the classroom

In Closing

Microsoft is a giant in technology. Most of us will have grown up using Microsoft in schools and this presents a great deal of familiarity – which in recent years has bred contempt (some of it well deserved though).

But Microsoft is changing. It’s moving away from trying to be the best tech company and moving towards the idea of supporting others to be the best. this is the best way to understand the Microsoft Innovative Educator programme. It’s purpose is to help you become a better teacher, by using better tools and making small changes to bring more innovation into your classroom teaching.

“Being an MIE Expert gives you an opportunity to explore unexplored areas, to develop your hidden potential, to unlearn old, to learn new and better ways to teach, and above all, to meet amazing friends to learn and grow together.”– Mamta Narula, India

“What I loved about being an MIE Expert is that it pushed me to develop my skills as an educator. Sharing ideas and getting inspired by other skilled educators from around the world made me aim higher and push my own abilities as an educator.”–Richard Snyder, USA

“I have learned to be brave and courageous. I am very keen to share this genius with other girls of my society. This community has given me the courage to do so.”–Shafaque Riaz, UAE

“Becoming an MIE Expert changes everything: you are instantly a part of a community of like-minded people who will cheer you on as you continue to grow, and challenge you with their own innovative practices.”–Jim Pedrech, Canada


Michael Johnston

About Michael Johnston

I'm a Lecturer in Computing and the Foundation Degree Director in Computing for the Northern Regional College in Northern Ireland. My research interests in the areas of technology enhanced learning, how we interact with technology, blended learning and professional development. Michael currently specialises in the computing areas of web development technologies, cyber security, software development and IoT. Michael has worked in a range of different roles in IT-from teaching roles to running his own web design company, Michael is equally at home working with theory, as he is conducting research, or building a bespoke IT solution. Michael is currently studying a PhD in Cyberpsychology.

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