Microsoft, Cisco and Intel Fund Learning-assessment Project

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Microsoft has teamed up with Cisco and Intel to create a project aimed at improving how students learn.

The companies are investing in a research project aimed at assessing education methods globally to improve learning, they said at the Learning and Technology World Forum in London.

They are not disclosing publicly how much money they are investing in the project. However, all three have made significant investments in education research over the years. Microsoft currently funds a project called Partners in Learning, in which it has pledged a US$500 million investment over a 10-year period.

The companies have tapped Barry McGaw, the director of the Melbourne Education Research Institute at the University of Melbourne, as executive director of the new joint project. In this role, McGaw will oversee an executive committee, a team of project leaders, and as many as 50 education experts to develop learning assessments on a worldwide basis.

Through the project, researchers will test classroom practices and assess teaching methods to ensure they are effective for teaching children what project leaders consider to be 21st-century skills, including engagement with the latest technology and the ability to develop skills as technology evolves. Helping students think critically and creatively and work cooperatively also will be skills considered important in the assessments, the companies said.

Several global organizations that specialize in education assessment have expressed interest in supporting the project, including the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, which project leader McGaw has served as director, and the International Association of the Evaluation of Educational Achievement.

Microsoft and its partners also hope the project encourages nongovernmental organizations and other corporations to invest in education assessment, a Microsoft spokeswoman said via e-mail.

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