Teenage boy and girl sitting outside at university looking at Surface Book

Free online tool aims to create a generation of technology leaders in the UK

A new online tool to help students and teachers be the best in the world at using technology has been launched.

Microsoft has teamed up with some of the leading education organisations in the UK to create a guide that lets people spot the gaps in their digital skills, and then points them to relevant courses.

The free tool is designed to create a generation of digital leaders who will thrive in workplaces that are increasingly relying on technology.

Clare Riley, Further Education and Higher Education Engagement Manager at Microsoft, said it will help people from every background to achieve more in education and life.

“Today’s world is digital and mobile, app-based and personal. To thrive in it, greater confidence around how best to harness technology and new digital skills are vital; but not everyone has them,” she said.

“Our easy-to-use online tool is designed to help you assess your digital literacy and capabilities and identify the necessary courses and resources to accelerate your learning, research capabilities or impact as a teacher. It will guide you through a three-level curriculum with plenty of free online resources to raise your digital readiness to new heights and help you become future leaders in business and academia.”

The service has been launched in conjunction with Leicester University, Milton Keynes College and Jisc – a not-for-profit company that offers digital solutions for education and research in the UK.

Students, academics, researchers and administrators can take courses at gold, silver and bronze levels, depending on their skill level. Bronze courses offer information on how to work confidently, collaboratively and effectively in a digital world, and include help with Office 365 Education, OneNote, Sway, GDPR, the cloud, Microsoft Teams and using Skype in the classroom, among other topics.

Learn more about Microsoft’s Digital Skills Programme

Girl using Microsoft Surface Book

Silver courses focus on creativity and collaboration, and look at accessibility, inclusion, Power BI, amplifying student voices and problem-based learning.

Gold courses are for anyone who wants to use technology to inspire and innovate others. These courses offer help with growing a professional network, searching for jobs and becoming a Skype Master Teacher to learn from other education professionals across the world.

Penny Langford, Head of eLearning at Milton Keynes College, added: “We’ve worked in conjunction with Jisc and Microsoft to categorise key skills into three levels – bronze, silver and gold – depending on whether they will help drive productivity, creativity or innovation. For each level we’ve also developed three core learning paths, so you can take charge of our own development and navigate the necessary online courses and learning resources you need to succeed.”

Teacher helping student use a tablet

It is believed that 65% of today’s students will end up working in jobs that don’t exist yet, and more than 500,000 highly-skilled workers will be needed to fill digital roles by 2022 – three times the number of UK computer science students who graduated in the past 10 years. Just 5% of computer scientists are female, while people returning to work and those from black and minority ethnic backgrounds are also vastly underrepresented within the sector.

Last year, the Government used the Budget to announce more money for AI and triple the number of trained computer science teachers in a bid to make Britain one of the leaders in technology and innovation.

Microsoft has also launched a digital skills programme that aims to ensure the country remains one of the global leaders in next-generation technologies.