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Microsoft, Laspau to select LatAm universities for edtech initiative

Bnamericas Published: Friday, July 26, 2019
Microsoft, Laspau to select LatAm universities for edtech initiative

Microsoft and Americas region higher education support foundation Laspau expect to decide by year-end on a shortlist of Latin American universities that will work on a strategy to accelerate technology adoption by higher education institutions in the region.

The selected universities will meet with Microsoft and Laspau at a proposed Technological Frontiers Summit, where all parties will formulate a program dubbed the Technological Frontiers Initiative (TFI).

The core activity of TFI will be to arrange workshops with university authorities and researchers at a large number of institutions to discuss strategies for incorporating digital technologies, Laspau executive director Angélica Natera told BNamericas.

The technologies in question include AI, use of metadata and biodata, advanced design and manufacturing in engineering, VR for the classroom, cloud services and new administration tools for university management.

In recent years many Latin American governments have attempted to promote technology in education by simply supplying hardware and software, but not necessarily ensuring that the tools are used in the best way.

Natera implied that in the case of TFI universities are likely to make maximum use of the tools because the focus is on "advanced solutions that have already proven to be beneficial in higher education and collaborative research institutions in this hemisphere."

In a second phase, Microsoft and Laspau plan to award 518 scholarships to ensure that university staff and alumni become specialized in the technologies and further lead incorporation of the tools into their respective institutions. The program will include 250 scholarships lasting five years and 48 four-year scholarships intended for administrative staff.

Asked whether scholarship beneficiaries could be tempted to seek employment outside academia, Natera stressed that the idea is to benefit the institutions rather than the individuals, and she expects each institution to carefully select candidates with this in mind. 

Furthermore, institutions can strengthen their bond with beneficiaries by paying for licenses, or guaranteeing future positions should the researcher engage in study abroad, she added.

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