“I would love to put a computer in the hand of every child – but I could not and would not leave it at that. Changing education takes so much more. Technology will always just be a tool.” – Kirsten Panton, Denmark
In three short weeks from today, we will gather in Prague for the Partners in Learning Global Forum. To say this is a big deal here at Daily Edventures is an understatement. That is why I am especially excited that Kirsten Panton, the Partners in Learning Director for Western Europe, joins us today.
Before Panton came to Microsoft nine years ago, she spent 11 years working at the largest business college in Denmark, Niels Brock. At that time, the college had ten different locations, approximately 50,000 students (covering K10-12, higher education and lifelong learning). Panton began teaching marketing and accounting. Soon after, she became program manager, and then rose to head of information for the college.
“It was 11 exciting years,” says Panton. “The college was constantly introducing new ways of teaching and learning, and integrating technology was very much part of this.”
Her experience as both a teacher and head of information has provided her with a unique perspective on the challenges in education today. “As a teacher, I think the best ever working experience is when you have had one of those perfect lessons,” says Panton. “When your preparation has been spot on, when the students are particular engaged, when you are able to get a great debate going among the students and you give only small instructions and the students take over. When the students are prepared and take full responsibility for the lesson. On such a day you can fly home as a teacher.”
And her time as head of information had no less of an effect on her. “I had the privilege to build my own team and to move the level of both internal and external communication to something very different,” Panton notes. “I also became responsible for a change management implementation process in the governance team based on the Business Excellence Model. This also involved setting up training for 600 teachers across the college.”
In her work now with Partners in Learning, Panton is instrumental in bringing both teaching and technology to the forefront for the benefit of students and educators alike. “My career move from education to Microsoft has been interesting and has given me the opportunity to work with the most innovative school leaders and teachers across Western Europe as well as engaging with education leaders at the policy level,” she notes. “It has been – and is – a dream job where my passion for education, for constantly improving education, for always finding new ways and to be able to seek innovation and creativity is what I do every day. The team of Partners in Learning managers we have – in Microsoft in general and in Western Europe in particular – is exceptional. Working with all these very intelligent and creative people is indeed a privilege.”
And now it is my privilege to share today’s Daily Edventure, Kirsten Panton. (And make sure you don’t miss Panton’s description of judging at the Global Forum, below).
What is the best opportunity for innovation in education?
Visionary policymakers who dare to take the full step away from 20th century assessment. Before this happens we will not see the new paradigm of learning.
What advice would you give an educational policymaker?
Take a deep breath. And look at the world outside education. What are the demands of 21st
century? What do students need to master apart from reading, writing and math? Then create a curriculum, assessment and a school system that is supporting these demands.
What educational “trend” do you think is helping students?
Technology implementation is definitely a big help – IF the teachers are ready to implement and integrate technology into the learning process.
If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be? Why?
I would love to put a computer in the hand of every child – but I could not and would not leave it at that. Changing education takes so much more. Technology will always just be a
The Judging Process at the Global Forum from Kirsten Panton
As I have been with Partners in Learning since the very beginning of the program (more than nine years ago) – I have been lucky enough to have attended all Partners in Learning European Forums and all Global Forums. It has been great to be involved in the development of the judging process.
We have developed both the judging categories as well as the process. Up until two years ago we only had three categories: content, collaboration and community. And we fully relied on the judges having a mutual understanding of both the categories and how to judge the projects.
Microsoft has sponsored a research project called Innovative Teaching and Learning Research (ITL), developed and carried out by Stanford Research International. The research measures the level of innovation in teaching and learning with a focus on 21st
The educator competition is now aligned to the ITL research – meaning the categories are closely linked to the categories defined in the research and the judges are trained on the research terminology and assessment. This, first and foremost, means that the judges have a mutual understanding of the categories, and second, that they have an assessment
methodology based on the research.
What we are aiming to achieve is fairness to the educators. Over the years, we have realized that we often change peoples’ lives when they become winners. With that in mind, we find it very important to treat the judging process with a very high degree of professionalism. This also means that the judges are an international team of people with roots in education and high-level jobs at higher education institutions, ministries of education, third-party organizations, etc.
The Global Forum is for educators. It is about having fun, meeting up, networking, collaborating and creating new friendships and opportunities for future collaboration.
I am so excited about the Eighth Forum in Prague and look so forward to meeting both judges and educators.
The categories today are:
- Learning Beyond the Classroom
- Knowledge Building & Critical Thinking
- Cutting Edge Use of Technology for Learning
- Educator as Innovator and Change Agent
Celebrate the best of worldwide education!
The Global Forum is the flagship event – a veritable Olympics for teaching and learning – for Partners in Learning, a key element of Microsoft’s recently announced YouthSpark initiative, in which we’ve committed to reach more than 300 million young people over the next several years. Partners in Learning helps educators and school leaders connect, collaborate, create and share so students can realize their greatest potential. It celebrates the world’s most innovative educators and school leaders for bringing technology to life in the classroom and impacting millions of students.
About Kirsten Panton
- Birthplace: Johannesburg, South Africa
- Current residence: Copenhagen, Denmark
- Education: MsC (economics), BA (English) and a diploma in pedagogy
- Website I check every day: MS DK Internal Site, Facebook, Daily news (dr.dk)
- Person who inspires me most: My husband never stops inspiring me. But on a macro level, I’m inspired by many people. If I should highlight one it would be Nelson Mandela.
- Favorite childhood memory: Skiing holidays in Norway at Christmas
- Next travel destination (work or pleasure): Paris, Genoa and then Prague for work…..
- When was the last time you laughed? Why? Two minutes ago – the team I sit in at Microsoft has a GREAT sense of humor. We laugh a lot.
- Favorite book: Possession by A.S. Byatt
- Favorite music: As Christmas is coming up – Bob Dylan: ‘Must be Santa’. Another classic that I never get tired of listening to is: The Travelling Wilburys: ‘Handle With Care’
- Your favorite quote or motto: If there is a will, there is a way.