Teachers Get Xbox Savvy In Time For New School Year

Hillsborough County public school teacher Bennett Smith demonstrates how to use the Xbox Kinect for classroom use, during a recent technology showcase held at the District’s Sam Horton Instructional Services Center. The event trained teachers on Microsoft technology to be used in the classrooms during the upcoming year.

Using the Xbox Kinect in the classroom may sound a bit out of place, but close to 500 of Hillsborough County Public School (HCPS) teachers learned to use the Xbox and more during the states first-ever back to school technology showcase.

With the 2012-2013 school year only days away, teachers took part in the event, hosted at the district’s Sam Horton Instructional Services Center, located at 2920 N. 40th St in Tampa, and was the direct result of a new partnership and digital education alliance between the school district, Microsoft, the City of Tampa, the Florida Department of Education and the Center for Technology and Education.

“The showcase provides the way for all of our teachers to be trained in cutting-edge technology so they can start the school year ready to boost their students’ technology skills,” said Hillsborough County Public Schools Superintendent MaryEllen Elia. “The extensive training they receive today will help them increase their own technology skills so they can prepare their students for 21st century careers.”

Elia was especially proud to mention that thanks to a generous donation by Microsoft, this year a dozen classrooms in Hillsborough County schools will be using Xbox Kinect for interactive, gesture-based learning. Schools will also use Microsoft’s Kodu programming, game-development technology, helping students develop IT skills by creating games on the PC and Xbox using the simple, visual programming language designed for use by children.

According to HCPS officials, the effort to prepare the teachers is closely connected to the Microsoft IT Academy program, introduced this year in each of the 27 high schools and 18 middle schools as a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) focused elective for students.

The IT Academy is a college-and-career-ready education program designed to provide students with technology skills necessary to gain industry-recognized certifications to be competitive in today’s rapidly evolving workplace.

“The Microsoft IT Academy fits perfectly with our goal of preparing our students for careers in the future,” Elia said. “This is a wonderful partnership that will benefit our teachers and our students, and I’m grateful to Microsoft and the City of Tampa for their commitment.”

Elia closed her comments by stating that the program’s success will determine its growth within the district, but was positive about another training session prior to the next school year.

For more information, please visit www.sdhc.k12.fl.us.