San Francisco, CA - The Corporation for National and Community Service today announced a collaborative initiative with Microsoft Corp.'s U.S. Partners in Learning to design and establish a new national, student-driven virtual helpdesk for K-12 teachers and non-profits. Over the next three years, Microsoft and CNCS will create a program which aligns a student service opportunity with President Obama's United We Serve initiative. It will focus on giving students real-world learning experiences as they support non-profits and teachers who are using technology in the classroom.
"Our collaboration with Microsoft will help provide 21st century service opportunities for students and give educators and nonprofit leaders tools they need to better fulfill their mission," said Nicola Goren, Acting CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. "We are excited to work with Microsoft to develop this collaboration that marries the power of technology with compassion of young people to strengthen teaching and learning in our nation."
Speaking today at the 2009 National Conference on Volunteering and Service, Goren and Anthony Salcito, general manager of U.S. Education at Microsoft Corp., will showcase the vision for how this real world service experience will help students gain 21st century skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, trouble shooting, communication, and teamwork. Through the experience, students will provide assistance to teachers who are working through technology problems that could be impeding innovative teaching and learning.
"Teachers tell us they need more technology support in the classroom, and students tell us they want meaningful and productive service opportunities. This partnership gives us the opportunity to work together with the Corporation for National and Community Service to create a program that helps solve both of these needs," said Salcito. "Supporting the work of the Obama Administration and the Corporation is part of Microsoft's work to help students, teachers and businesses realize their full potential."
The helpdesk will be designed with a 40-member advisory group comprised of youth development, education, and non-profit leaders throughout the country. The group envisions that the virtual helpdesk, which is expected to launch in January 2010, will extend the reach of existing programs in which students will support teachers and non-profit leaders using online, phone and onsite approaches.
The Corporation and Microsoft are committed to creating new public-private social initiatives that are innovative and focused on improving the quality of life for all. The joint effort was born from a shared long-standing goal of supporting more students and educators through resources, tools, and training. Both are focused on extending service-learning by extending the power of 21st century tools and pedagogy.
Teachers Can Benefit from Technical Support
According to an eSchool News survey, 65% of K-12 schools do not have enough staff to integrate tech into classes, and two-thirds do not have enough staff to pay for new technology. Moreover, more than half do not have enough staff to maintain their technology applications and nearly half of educators surveyed by the National Education Association said insufficient support impacted their use of technology.
Service-learning is a method of teaching and learning that connects classroom lessons with meaningful service to the community. By combining the technology and process expertise at a company like Microsoft with the service-learning expertise of the Corporation and its Learn and Serve America program, the student-driven helpdesk can assist students as they build academic skills while communities are strengthened through the service.