For Microsoft Expert Educator Michael Fees, truly innovative education boils down to one main thing: teamwork. “First, you need a team of administration, teachers and IT,” says Fees. “Second, you need a vision and everyone should know what exactly the scope of the vision is. Third, as a teacher, you need 100 percent assistance from administration and IT. Your scope should be teaching. Technical problems must be solved by assistants.”
As CIO of Schloos Neubeuern, Fees feels fortunate to be able to focus his attention on technology, which in turn helps the other teachers in his school focus on their strengths. “We assist our teachers and students as much as possible in technical matters,” he says. “This gives the teachers and students more time for creativity and prevents dissatisfaction.”
One of the biggest reasons education technology implementations fail is lack of preparation and training for teachers and school leaders. This scenario has, unfortunately, played out time and again around the globe, as over-extended teachers and administrators haven’t had the time or resources to prepare. As Fees acknowledges, getting ready for new technology requires more than just understanding how any given device or application works. It means a shift in pedagogy, and a new way of thinking about sparking curiosity, collaborating with peers and expert educators, interacting with rich content and opening doors to engaging learning experiences.
Fees and his team – who have certifications from Cisco and Microsoft — have a high level of knowledge that continues to grow through professional development. “We’re receiving very good technical support from Microsoft,” notes Fees. “It is important to have a good technical team when you use information technology in schools.”
Enjoy today’s Daily Edventure with Microsoft Expert Educator, Michael Fees.
What drew you to the field of education? Why is it important to you?
In my last job I was responsible for the IT of several schools. With Schloss Neubeuern I’ve got the chance to concentrate my efforts on one futuristic and progressive school with all assistance from the administration.
Can you tell us about a favorite teacher, or someone who made a difference in your education or inspired you the most?
We have many young teachers with good ideas and the power to motivate the students. They have time and the possibilities to guide, not only to teach.
How have you applied technology in innovative ways to support your work?
We have changed the complete teaching concept. We teach without chalkboards and without whiteboards – with Microsoft OneNote and tablet PCs in all subjects. The students have not used paper workbooks for years.
In your view, what is the most exciting innovation happening in education today?
I like the flipped classroom concept.
Is there a 21st century skill (critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, or creativity and innovation) that you are most passionate about? Why?
I like the communication and solving problems together aspect. But it is a huge expenditure to restrict the needed privileges during tests, when the students have to work alone.
If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be? Why?
Microsoft OneNote. It is a fantastic tool and you can collect all your knowledge in one notebook.
What is your country doing well currently to support education?
Education in Germany depends on the politicians’ ideas in each of the sixteen states. Progress takes much time and many decisions. Each minister has his/her own ideas. So there is no constant line in the policy. Bavaria stands for conservativeness. Many other countries are more progressive due to a central and progressive political educational administration.
How must education change in your country to ensure that students are equipped to thrive in the 21st century?
We have to create one central European education organization, with central skill definitions, central online exams and without any decision possibilities for local or federal administration. Start now!
About Michael Fees
Stiftung LEH Neubeuern
Neubeuern, Bavaria, Germany
- Birthplace: Neubeuern, Bavaria, Germany
- Current residence: Neubeuern, Bavaria, Germany
- Education: Graduated engineer
- How many years have you been in education? Over 14 years
- Website I check every day: http://www.zdnet.de, http://www.welt.de
- Blog url: http://michaelfees.wordpress.com
- Favorite childhood memory: A school excursion to Berlin before 1989, visiting East Berlin.
- Next travel destination (work or pleasure): Brussels, Microsoft European Briefing Center in May for work; Hawaii in December for pleasure.
- When was the last time you laughed? Why?: I laughed about a teacher who gave me some crumpets with a card with a story about a crumpet phobia.
- Favorite book: Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander”
- What is the best advice you have ever received?: If you think you have to make an eternal decision, ask yourself, if you really can’t change your decision in the future. Most time you can change your decision, if you have got new aspects.
- What are your personal interests or hobbies outside of education?: Hiking, swimming, riding motor bike, reading, working with others in clubs, having fun with friends.
- What’s one piece of technology in your classroom that you can’t live without? We can’t live without tablet PCs (and teachers).
- If you had to write something on the chalkboard 100 times what would it be? You are not alone on the planet. Behave accordingly.