“Our world is more connected than ever and can present amazing opportunities for education.” – Barbara Zielonka, Norway

Barbara Anna Zielonka
Learning Designer/Project Coordinator/EdTech Specialist/Teacher Trainer
Nannestad High School
Nannestad, Norway

Personalizing learning to help students succeed takes energy, time, patience, and passion. For Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert Barbara Zielonka, that means pushing the boundaries of a traditional classroom and showing her students that being successful means being able to “learn, relearn, and unlearn — anywhere and anytime.”

“Learning in the 21st century,” she says, “has to be student-centered and dynamic, and should embrace the power of technology.”

Zielonka and her high school students favor activities that involve connections- and project-based learning like Genius Hour, passion projects, or Shark Tank pitches. “

Technologies like Skype and social media mean that our world is more connected than ever and can present amazing opportunities for education,” Zielonka adds. “For the past six years, I have also designed more than 12 global and collaborative projects. This year we are a group of 245 schools from all over the world and our focus is on the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Zielonka’s love of teaching came early — directly from her parents — who opened her eyes to the world of teaching and learning. “They both had a gift for building a real rapport with their students and they taught me that good relationships are the key to successful teaching,” she shares. “Without their good example, I would have never become a teacher and never experienced the joy that the job brings.”

Yet along with the joys of her job, Zielonka is also realistic about the challenges that educators face each day.

“Sometimes I feel that our world is changing faster than ever, but education stands still,” she says. “There are still many educators who do not focus on soft and success skills our students need so badly. If we want to prepare our students for the changing job market, we need to rethink education. My students are digital natives and they need a different approach to education and learning. We need to act now. Every time I design a lesson, I ask myself, ‘How can this lesson help my students become successful in the future?’. This simple question helps me prepare my students for an unknown future.”

Connect with Barbara Zielonka on the Microsoft Educator Community, on Twitter, or on her blog.

About Barbara Anna Zielonka

  • Educational background:  Master of Arts in English Philology
  • Favorite Microsoft product, tool, technology:  Microsoft Teams, Immersive Reader
  • What is the best advice you have ever received? Someone once told me: “Be brave to be yourself.”
  • Website I check every day:  Twitter, LinkedIn, The New York Times
  • Favorite childhood memory:  Spending summer holidays with my parents and my brother.
  • Favorite book:  Books written by L.M. Montgomery.



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