By: Amanda Hawthorne- Director of People and Culture

No matter your role in the workforce, you’ve surely heard by now that we’re not only in the midst of a global pandemic, but we’re also seeing an epidemic of people leaving their jobs. According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report released earlier this month, 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs in December 2021. Though that number is a slight downtick from the month prior, the number of quits is still outpacing years prior; in fact, more Americans quit in 2021 than ever before recorded. The Great Resignation’s acceleration of employee turnover just adds to the difficulty of running a business in these challenging times. So, what can employers do to cope? What’s the solution?

Here, we explore some of the ways to increase worker satisfaction and reduce turnover -- and be ready for the inevitability of some churn within your workplace.

But any efforts to increase retention may fail if you haven’t first understood the reasons for employees leaving in the first place. Let’s explore some common themes for employee resignations in today’s work environment:

Employees leaving to handle caregiving responsibilities. It’s undeniable that Covid-19 exposed serious gaps in our country’s caregiving infrastructure. Some parents have dropped out of the workplace because of the intensive care burdens of young children and the lack of available daycare facilities – not to mention the increasing costs of such care. Others are leaving to care for an elder parent because long-term care facilities are expensive and perhaps less desirable during the pandemic. Still others have school-aged kids at home who just aren’t going to make it through Zoom school without supervision. The choice to leave the workplace may have been most common among caregivers whose jobs require their presence onsite, versus remote or schedule flexibility, but even those whose jobs allow such flexibility may find the competing pressures of work and caregiving to be in conflict – and overwhelming. It’s not surprising that some of these people decided to leave the workforce or seek out new opportunities with additional flexibility.

What can employers do? Employers should remember that employees are people, too – with complex lives and competing responsibilities beyond their paid employment. Consider whether offering benefits such as childcare subsidies or backup childcare assistance could benefit your workforce. These benefits can be a win-win for employees and employers, offering much-needed assistance to workers and potentially a tax credit for the business offering child are subsidies. Many employers already offer access to an Employee Assistance Program, which can offer referrals for child or elder care resources. If this is something you offer, make sure your employees know about the benefit – EAPs are easy to forget if you’ve never accessed one before.

Employees leaving for greener pastures: more flexibility, stronger benefits… Now that we are through the initial shock of being in a pandemic, when many people may have held steady in jobs they might have otherwise considered leaving, people are now starting to re-evaluate. Employees may be taking stock of their position on a total-rewards basis: what benefits is my employer offering? Are they helping cover the costs of healthcare for me and my family? Do I have access to progressive benefits coverage like telehealth? Especially as workers see peers leave their roles for greener pastures, they may be more likely to start wondering what else is available, and how their current opportunity stacks up.

What can employers do? Working with an insurance broker, companies can evaluate whether their existing benefits offerings are competitive. Employers must remember too that they are competing with larger companies for talent. It may not be possible to offer all the bells and whistles, but where can you really add value? You may want to work with your broker to survey your team to find out how they’re using their current benefits and where else they’re looking for you to assist.

Employers should also evaluate their workplace policies to see whether offering increased flexibility or other family-friendly policies could benefit their teams. At Managed Solution, we’ve offered varying degrees of remote work and schedule flexibility for years. Before the pandemic, this was more cutting edge, but as many jobs went remote for Covid-19, work-remote opportunities have become more of an expectation among workers. Now, employees are looking to their employers to understand what policies and programs will exist beyond the pandemic: will they continue to have access to remote work? Can they adjust start times to accommodate day-care or school drop off? Do you offer flexibility for part-time roles or job-sharing to accommodate those who need more time for caregiving? Now is the time for employers to start defining what the future will hold for their workers – and the more flexibility you can offer, the better!

Employees leaving to secure a raise. Inflation is real, and employees are aware of the rapidly increasing costs to even maintain a current quality of life. According to Bloomberg, “U.S. consumer prices soared last year by the most in nearly four decades, sapping the purchasing power of American families” -- and even as minimum wages have increased in parts of the country, “rising prices are eroding those advances.” For most workers, the best way to secure a significant wage increase is not to wait for an annual review at a current employer, where they may see a small cost-of-living adjustment, but to seek an offer at another firm.

What can employers do? Take time to look at your current team’s wages. How does it stack up to the market? Remember, too, that with the rise of remote work opportunities, you may be competing against wages on a national scale, as employees’ options are no longer limited to a local work market. Although it may not be possible to offer significant increases across the board, it may be prudent to identify key talent and ensure the individuals in those roles are paid appropriately. If base wage increases aren’t an option and you’re already paying market-fair wages, perhaps you can offer other creative incentives based on specific organizational outcomes… which may be written in a way that requires employees to remain employed with your organization for a specific duration to receive payment. (Future bonus opportunities may not be enough to overcome other significant deficiencies in employee satisfaction, so be sure there aren’t other underlying issues with workplace rigidity, culture issues, or lack of growth opportunities.)

Employees leaving a toxic or lack-luster work environment. As much as we’d like to think we can throw money at a problem to solve it (and sometimes that does help), recent data published by MIT Sloan Management Review suggests that a toxic corporate culture can be a top predictor of attrition – more than pay: according to the article, “a toxic culture is 10.4 times more likely to contribute to attrition than compensation… Our analysis found that the leading elements contributing to toxic cultures include failure to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion; workers feeling disrespected; and unethical behavior.” With so many job openings, employees in such toxic environments can feel compelled to explore new opportunities in organizations that prioritize recognition, respect, and collaboration.

Additionally, many employees are feeling disconnected from their workplace without an office to visit. Employees may seek opportunities with organizations that prioritize team building, including those that offer virtual or hybrid events to help them get to know coworkers beyond their day-to-day work interactions. According to Angela Ashenden, citing findings from her co-authored paper (“Employee Workplace Technology Survey, 2020”) in an article posted on Reworked: “Although most of the technology basics are now in place to enable them to access their work tools remotely, employees highlight a lack of social interaction with colleagues (33%) and a lack of connection with what's happening in their organization (22%) as their biggest challenges with remote work.”

What can employers do? Employers should evaluate their own corporate culture. What are employees saying in exit interviews? What’s being reflected in employee surveys? Do you have a defined Code of Conduct or set of company values that outlines how your company engages internally and externally, to ensure that all team members feel respected? If these documents already exist, how are you reinforcing them on a day-to-day basis with your teams? Do your team members have ways to identify individuals whose behavior falls short of those standards, without fear of reprisal?

If you’re feeling good about the basic foundations of respect, inclusion, and equity within your organization, start considering how you’re engaging your remote or hybrid teams. Do you have an accessible intranet and collaboration tool like Microsoft Teams? (If not, let’s chat!) Are you helping team members connect on those platforms by announcing important company updates? Here at Managed Solution, we’ve leveraged Microsoft Teams to build community through Virtual Spirit Weeks, where our team members posted photos or responses to various topics. We were blown away by the responses to our prompts, such as “ManSol’s Got Talent” - where employees showed off their painting, cooking, athletic, and other skills. From virtual trivia night to a hosted virtual escape room, to “Quaran-teams” pods to connect folks across the organization for 15-minutes social breaks throughout the week, there are so many ways to help your team members feel connected on a social level.

Employees leaving for growth opportunities not available in their current environment. At the end of the day, most employees are looking for the opportunities to succeed at work – and the opportunity to grow into new roles within a company. If employees don’t see a clear path for growth within an organization, they may begin exploring ways to grow beyond it. Employees left in the dark about what opportunities exist in their organization, or who aren’t provided coaching support to take on stretch goals, may not want to languish in the same position forever.

What can employers do? First and foremost – make sure your employees know what opportunities exist! Particularly in a remote environment where there’s less of a chance someone can hear of something ‘through the grapevine,’ employers need to take care to publish job openings across the organization. Be sure to take seriously any employee who shows interest in an open role: at a minimum, someone in HR and/or the hiring manager should meet with that person to discuss the role, even if the person isn’t yet qualified. If that person isn’t yet eligible or suited to a role, help them understand the gaps – and provide guidance on how to close them! Engage your supervisors and managers in development efforts. Are they regularly meeting with team members to discuss performance and growth? And if someone in your organization has been promoted, how are you highlighting this story in your recruiting and internal communication? Employees want to know that internal growth is possible – and how to achieve it for themselves. Particularly for industries like IT, where there’s always something new to learn, consider how you are helping your team members learn. Can you offer professional development funding or tuition assistance? Reimbursement of certification costs? Outline these programs, and make sure they’re published across the organization. Helping people see opportunities and see your commitment to their achievement can keep employees committed to your organization for the long haul.

These are just some of the reasons employees are re-evaluating their careers during the Great Resignation. Whichever factors are driving turnover in your organization, making a concerted effort to uncover the reasons and address them will be critical for improving retention.

And while evaluating your strategy for retention is a must, employers must realize that it can take time to implement new programs or policies and see any impact. So, what to do in the meantime, when the Great Resignation is still underway? With the combination of a tight labor market and an acceleration of turnover, employers need to also be ready to engage in a competitive recruiting market to fill those inevitable openings. In many cases, this can mean looking to an outside recruiting firm for help.

Managed Solution has developed a consistent, proactive recruiting practice to ensure we’re connecting with qualified talent and building our pipeline for common IT roles, sometimes even before we have an active opening. But not every company is going to have a dedicated internal recruiting team building that pipeline even before it’s needed. Given today’s intensely competitive recruiting marketing, where candidates may have multiple offers in front of them, working with an outside recruiting firm can help your company improve success in hiring the right talent, fast – which is even more important when you get that unexpected two-weeks-notice letter from someone in a key role!

Do you have a critical opening you need filled yesterday? Just received a devastating two-weeks-notice letter from an employee in a key role? Let us know -- we can help!

Interviewing in a Remote World- Tips & Tricks for Virtual Vetting

By: Amanda Hawthorne, Director of  People and Culture

Two years into the pandemic, it’s almost hard to remember life in the “before times.” At this point, it’s probably fair to say that Covid-19 might be our lifetime’s ultimate ‘disruptor’ – a word that, in Silicon Valley at least, usually signifies a unicorn organization poised to create a true paradigm shift in how the world operates. So much as changed in daily life since March 2020 because of the pandemic. Whether it’s new safety measures or even the foregoing of certain regulations (to-go cocktails, anyone?), the change is undeniable.

For many office workers, these changes are most noticeable in how and where we work. Many of us are now working and collaborating in largely digital workplaces. Whether they’re sharing files and trading gifs on Teams, or messaging colleagues over Slack, or spending yet another afternoon on back-to-back ZOOM calls, more people than ever are working remotely… and with yet another surge of cases and the fact that so many have embraced remote work, we don’t see this changing anytime soon. Remote work is here to stay!

As we adapt to these virtual work environments, business leaders had to rethink almost every aspect of their businesses. While this has often been about overcoming obstacles, it’s also been about re-examining what’s possible. In the world of HR, this shift has been perhaps most dramatic in terms of what’s possible with recruiting, and we’re so excited about the possibilities we’ve uncovered in terms of hiring in a remote world!

Broaden Your Talent Pools by Recruiting in New Geographies

Managed Solution has long prided itself on being remote-friendly. As a technology services provider, we were early adopters of tools that allowed our team to work anywhere and everywhere. Even before the pandemic, much of our team worked from home a few times a week. Still, though, most of our employees were based in San Diego, CA, and most of us were commuting to a brick-and-mortar office at some point each week.

When we told our team members to start working remotely full-time during the pandemic, many of them began exploring opportunities for relocation – to their dream houses, to be closer to family, and even to be closer to the mountains for rock climbing! Before we knew it, our team was spread out across states and time zones.

Despite some early challenges with adding payroll in new states (who enjoys navigating the red tape of various state agencies?), we quickly realized the numerous advantages of having employees in different locations. For our 24/7 IT helpdesk team, we were able to staff different shifts in time zones that made sense for our clients’ needs – and our employees’ lives. Operating on a more national basis was not only good for our team, but great for our business.

Now, when hiring for our own vacancies, we began advertising our roles to candidates in these various states and were enthusiastic to see such high-quality resumes coming through our applicant tracking systems! Broadening your geographic search criteria gives you access to more candidates, increasing your likelihood of finding that perfect match!

But while we were singing the praises of a broader talent pool, we also realized that phone calls with candidates wasn’t going to cut it in this new world: video interviews were necessary to help us build a level of rapport with candidates that’s on par with the experience of in-person interviewing. Unfortunately, interviewing candidates on a video call isn’t always a no-brainer.

To help you get started on video interviewing (or to help you up your game!), here are some of our tried-and- true tips & tricks to ensure both a strong candidate AND strong employer experience in the interview process…

Virtual Interviews: 10 Tips & Tricks for Success

  1. Get Really Clear on the Job Details.

    Ideally, this happens before you’ve even posted a role, but especially before you get to an interview, you’ll need to really understand the job itself: what skills are must-haves, which are on the nice-to-have list? Be sure to also dive into when and where this role could be performed: is this job suited to remote work in the short term, but eventually you’d require a candidate to commute to the office? If so, be sure to communicate that! Is a position remote flexible but the function needs to be performed during specific hours based on the time zone for your home office? Share that, too! Being clear about the role not only lets you recruit among the broadest talent pool, it also helps ensure a strong mutual fit with any prospective candidate -- and avoids an awkward situation down the road. Imagine accepting an offer, quitting your job, and showing up on the first day in your new role… only to discover that your understanding of your work schedule or environment was completely off?! No thank you! You’ll save yourself a lot of heartache as a hiring manager if you can get really clear on your job details before you start interviewing!

  2. Revisit Your Interview Plan.

    Start with the basics: map out your in-person interview strategy, including who was included and what the respective conversations were covering. Now, assess who else a candidate might benefit from speaking to. Perhaps now is the time to include a peer interview so the candidate can start learning who they’d be working with – not just After all, with in-person interviews, a candidate often gets to at least put eyes on the people they’d be working with. You must consciously create those opportunities in a remote work world! While you don’t want your interview process to become excessively slow – especially in today’s fight for talent – but you do want to have enough time for a clear picture of the candidate’s skills… and give them enough time to really learn what it would be like to work with you!

  3. Give Your Candidate the Info & Tools Needed to Be Successful in Your Interviews.

    Include all pertinent details in an interview invite, such as the names and positions of those who will be involved in the call. Be sure the candidate has the contact info of at least one interviewer in case something comes up last minute. Consider providing your candidate with the specific goals of each interview phase so they have some idea of what will be covered: is this a technical interview? A hiring manager interview? Peer interview? Let the candidate know what to expect. Clarity is kindness, after all – and being clear about the who/what/why of the interview also gives the candidate the chance to prepare appropriate questions for your team. (And also makes it less ok if they haven’t prepared at least a question or two ahead of time!)

  4. Make a Plan for Technical Difficulties – And Make Sure Your Interviewers Can Help Troubleshoot Common Issues! We’ve all been through those video calls where someone’s network connection just isn’t quite cutting it, so you’re hearing only every few words at best. Interviews won’t be effective if there isn’t clear audio / visual on both sides and even in today’s world where virtual meetings seem common, it’s not unusual to come across a candidate who’s never used Teams (or whatever your tool of choice is). Head off the technical issues altogether by sending some brief instructions for your candidates about how to get connected. Let them know in advance that the interview will be video on and give them insight about your ‘workplace’ dress code. Consider encouraging them to use a background filter. And then be sure your own team is well-versed on your technology so they can help a candidate who may struggle.
  5.  Show Your Team in the Best Light Possible – Literally!

    If your team is going to be on camera frequently for interviews, you may want to give them some guidance to help reflect positively on your organization. From displaying the appropriate dress code to a professional, neat background, to joining calls from a quiet space with good lighting… all can make your company appear coordinated and well-adjusted to remote work. Consider offering ring lights or monitor-mounted webcams to provide flattering lighting and angles – your interviewers will be more focused on the candidate if they’re not distracted by their own double chin in the video preview feed! Help your interviewers focus on the candidate’s video feed, or even direct them to look into the camera while speaking to give the feeling of eye contact. (Our Talent Advisor uses a sticker at the top/center of her monitor to give herself something to look at!) Remind your interviewers of good interviewing etiquette: close the door, turn off the laundry, silence your cellphone, have a glass of water nearby, and (at a minimum) have them skim the candidate’s resume in advance!

  6. Expect the Unexpected.

    Help train your interviewers on how to handle the realities of remote work: dogs barking, kids stumbling into the room, lawyers who are definitely not cats… interviewing in this new world is sometimes as weird as it is wonderful. Remind your team to keep it calm and collected, and help put candidates at ease, even when things run awry. The pandemic has reminded us that, at the end of the day, we’re all just doing our best to hold things together. Being flexible when things don’t work out quite like we expected reassures a candidate that your company values authenticity and understands that an employee is a person.

  7. Educate Your Interviewers to Make Lawful Hiring Decisions.

    When interviewing people from their home, you may see things in the background that give clues to a candidate’s life in ways you might not if they came into your office. Remind your interviewers to disregard anything they may see in the background which may suggest things about the candidate’s nationality, ethnicity, religious affiliation, marital/parent status, or other protected class status. (Remember, too, not to make assumptions based on what you’re seeing!) Give interviewers guidance on job-related questions to ask and consider rubrics for scoring candidates consistently across interviews. Work with your HR team or an outside consultant to be sure that your hiring criteria are valid and lawful, and to help you identify potential areas for bias.

  8.  If Possible, Consider Meeting In-Person – At Least Once.

    Following CDC and other relevant guidelines, consider whether meeting a prospective candidate in-person is feasible, prior to issuing an offer. For some candidates, the chance to meet a potential manager gives them a better sense of your leadership style and interpersonal dynamic. For others, it’s reassuring to meet in person to help them trust that a job offer is legitimate before handing over their confidential details for a background check or I-9 form. If an in-person meeting isn’t feasible, you might offer your top candidates the chance to connect on a call with another employee who onboarded remotely or with a top performer in your org – not necessarily so that your employee can weigh in on the candidate, but so that the candidate can get a sense of what it’s like to work on your team – and feel confident that your offer is legit.

  9. Give the Candidate Time to Interview YOU!

    Many times, as interviewers, we’re so focused on getting answers to our questions that we may forget to reserve time for the candidate to ask us any questions they may have. Some successful interviewers preface their meetings by letting the candidate know he or she will have time to ask questions at the end: this can help keep a conversation on course while also giving the candidate the floor before wrapping up the call.

  10. And our very best tip for success in remote hiring in this new world? Ask for help!

    Implementing Microsoft Teams? Trying to map out an interview plan for a particular role? Looking for help in technical vetting of your top candidates? Just not getting enough qualified applicants for your open tech roles? Managed Solution offers a range of managed, professional, and technical services – including staffing! Our Talent Advisor can help you look at your hiring needs, improve your interview strategies, and connect you with our targeted solutions for staffing – remote or otherwise. Whether it’s working together on a Direct Hire Recruiting or Staff Augmentation Resourcing basis, or even helping you validate the technical skills of candidates your team has sourced, Managed Solution can take on the heavy lifting of hiring. And we’ll also be there each step of the way making sure you, your candidates, and your interviewing team has everything they need to be successful along the way!

Ready to up your recruiting game? Check out all our Staffing Services HERE. Let us know how we can help… get in touch with our Talent Advisor HERE.

Man sitting in data center Remote World- Vetting


As written on


It’s 7:00 a.m. on the first day of a new academic session, and the servers at Keiser University are running at full power as students, faculty, and staff ramp up for a new month of learning. Twelve hours from now, the peak will drop for the evening, and some of those servers will shut down, saving the university thousands of dollars. A few days from now as students settle into their new routines, activity will drop during the daytime, too, so the system can run efficiently on even fewer servers.
Fortunately for the IT department, the system reboots, cranks through the data, and keeps everyone running at full speed all on its own, leaving IT staff with more time to be creative. In fact, today, Associate Vice Chancellor of IT Andrew Lee and his team are focusing on a paperless financial aid system. The ability to test new applications without the upfront capital needed for a traditional on-premises environment allows Keiser to stay on the leading edge of technology while saving the university precious time and funds.


As Associate Vice Chancellor of IT at Keiser University, Andrew Lee handles everything that has to do with digital technology, ensuring that teachers and students have the tools and tech they need every day. When he joined Keiser 18 years ago, the IT department consisted of just two people serving five schools and 1,500 students.
Today, the university has 31 locations and close to 20,000 students. Andrew’s goal is to keep the school as “state of the art” as possible as it grows. He constantly looks for new technology that will help him do that while staying within budget.

Migrating an entire datacenter to Azure

Eighteen years ago, the university’s data was stored in a physical datacenter where the school owned the hardware. After transitioning to a “sort of” cloud, as Andrew describes it, where the hardware was leased and some of the infrastructure was paid for, he began looking at a full cloud solution.
“Everything was on the chopping block, and moving to the cloud just made sense,” Andrew says.
Microsoft Azure offered scalability and the ability to change on the fly. That sparked a fire in Andrew and his IT team, and now they’re moving the entire datacenter into Azure. With the new pay-as-you-go model, they don’t need up-front capital, and they have exactly as much as they need at any given time.
“It used to be that if we needed more storage, we had to lay out more capital expense. In Azure, we just log in and those resources are up and running within hours.” It’s a welcome change from the days of a physical datacenter with AT&T hosting. “Back then, we paid $35 – $40k every month. In Azure, I’ll have resources and servers that outshine anything we had there, and pay $5-10k less a month.”


Without the restrictions inherent in a traditional system, Andrew and his team can be much more creative without breaking the budget. New ideas and projects can be tested and deployed without the red tape, and that means faculty can dream up new ways to educate their students, and those dreams can turn into reality much quicker.
“We’ve effectively gone from an old jalopy to an Italian sports car,” Andrew says.
With 2 million personal records, ensuring security is critical. And when it comes to compliance, Azure offers the ability to back up as much data as necessary for as long as it’s needed.
“In Azure, compliance is a no-brainer, and when you need more storage, you simply add it,” Andrew says.
Beyond Azure, Keiser University has migrated to Office 365 and is beginning to use more of the tools at their disposal. Staff and students who prefer to use their own devices on campus can quickly and securely connect to the school’s systems with Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS), and servers are secured, updated and patched with Microsoft Intune. Phishing attacks are the most common cyberthreat on campus, but by leveraging Active Directory, the IT department can help make sure accounts stay secure.


Empowering educators and administrators to focus on what matters

For now, faculty, staff, and students are in the learning curve phase. Everyone has access to Office 365, and many are using OneNote and OneDrive to share documents and collaborate. Andrew’s IT department is doing the heavy lifting, migrating servers, data, and email to the cloud. Next up will be training and demo days to show faculty and staff all the tools that are readily available.
For educational institutions looking into a cloud solution, Andrew advises that it boils down to where you want to put your resources.
“In a cloud scenario, I’m out of the hardware business. After 18 years in this position, the thing that’s always caused the problems is hardware,” Andrew says. “Controller cards, fans, CPUs. Those are the things that come crashing down. With Azure, they’re a non-issue. All that redundancy is already there.”


The best part? “No phone calls at 8 a.m. on a Sunday.” Andrew and his IT team sleep better at night knowing that the hardware pieces that tend to bring the system down go away. And that means they’re able to focus on being more of a partner in delivering technology so that faculty, staff, and students can get exactly what they need to do their work quickly and efficiently.

What’s next?

Andrew’s vision for the university is one where faculty and staff can register their own devices and have quick access to the resources and software they need, safely and securely, without even involving the IT department, or needing their support. Which will free up the IT team to continue looking for ways to use technology to continue simplifying resources, delivering new solutions, and lowering costs.


For Andrew, the light bulb moment was realizing that, with Azure, his team could stand up a demo environment and throw hardware at it, acknowledging the pitfalls and configuring it—all in one day–saving time and money in the deployment stage. Andrew fully optimizes Keiser University’s cloud investment, and he’s leveraging the fact that he can ride the wave of resource needs instead of keeping everything at 100% and waiting for ebbs and flows.
Microsoft is proud to partner with Andrew and Keiser University to keep up with the pace of change in their digital transformation journey.



By Anthony Salcito as written on
Microsoft is proud to partner with WE, an organization that brings people together and gives them the tools to change the world. Microsoft shares that vision and, through its technology, is helping WE accelerate their impact.
I had the privilege of attending WE Day recently in Vancouver, Canada and meeting with co-founder of WE, Craig Kielburger.
As I met with Craig, I learned a great deal more about WE and we discussed some of the ways Microsoft is working with them to expand the WE mission to reach more students and empower youth as a force for inclusion.

Q&A with Craig Kielburger, co-founder of WE

Anthony: I attended WE Day in Vancouver, BC recently, and I was overwhelmed by the energy and commitment of these students. What inspired you to build this amazing organization?
Craig: At the age of 12, I was inspired to help improve human rights for children around the world after I heard a story about Iqbal Masih, a young activist in Pakistan, who stood up against child labor. I knew I couldn’t make significant change alone, so I convinced a handful of my grade 7 classmates to join me in making a life-changing impact. That was how WE was born and, 20 years later, we are still passionate about empowering young people to be leaders of today through WE programming, such as WE Schools and WE Day.
We celebrate the incredible commitment of these students to service through WE Day, an inspiring, stadium-sized, life-changing event that takes place around the world. It unites world-renowned speakers, presenters and award-winning performers with thousands of young people and families to celebrate and inspire another year of incredible change. These are hosted in cities across North America and the UK. What’s unique about these stadium-sized events is that you can’t buy a ticket to WE Day – students earn their ticket by taking one local and one global action on causes they are most passionate about.
Anthony: Tell me about your vision for WE Schools.
Craig: WE Schools is a free, year-long service learning program that focuses on empowering students with the tools to make an impact in their local communities and beyond.
The WE Schools program has grown to include more than 12,000 schools and engages nearly a million students. WE Schools provide educators and students with the necessary tools, including curriculum and resources, to identify issues they care about and to take action. Educators can sign up at
This year, we are partnering with Microsoft to make the WE Schools curriculum digitally accessible through Microsoft OneNote, widening our reach and granting more students and educators around the world with access to our service curriculum. Our goal is to bring a passion for service to as many students as possible and, by 2019, we hope to triple the number of schools participating.
Anthony: How do you see the partnership with Microsoft helping advance your vision and mission?
Craig: Microsoft and WE share a common vision to help students be a force for good, locally and globally. That’s why we recently launched WE are One, a campaign that educates young people about issues of accessibility and encourages them to use technology to make their communities more inclusive.
Using Microsoft products and programs, classrooms will be able to organize, collaborate and share ideas on important issues. With technology – especially tools like OneNote, and Skype – we can go from reaching a million students to millions of students around the world.
The WE are One campaign also comes with accompanying WE Schools curriculum, outlining ways to integrate OneNote, Sway, Skype and Minecraft: Education Edition into lesson plans, to help students create and share their projects. This campaign is a great example of how we are digitizing WE Schools curriculum and, as a result, reaching students all over the world.
Craig Kielburger addresses attendees at WE Day on stage.
Anthony: Of course, Microsoft is thrilled to be part of WE are One because it speaks so clearly to our mission to empower students and educators to do more. Can you share an example where technology has made a difference for a student looking to make a change to help others?
Craig: At this week’s WE Day Seattle, taking place on Friday, April 21, we will be joined by Maia Dua, a 16 year-old from River City High School in Sacramento, CA. He developed a robot as a cost-effective and durable alternative to a seeing-eye dog. The self-propelled, echo-locating Seeing Eye-Bot is made of readily accessible materials, making it more available to individuals of limited financial resources. The best part is that Maia developed this bot in just four days.
Anthony: As powerful is WE Day is, not every student can attend. How can those students (and their teachers) share this powerful experience?
Craig: Following WE Day Seattle, educators and students will be able to access the WE Day recap, which includes a virtual WE Day experience with motivational speeches and performances available at their fingertips, as well as educator resources.
In 60 minutes or less, students will be able to relive the celebration of young change-makers and experience exclusive, behind-the-scenes content. The WE Day recap pairs content from the event with WE Schools action planning to bring the spirit of the WE movement to the classroom. Now, thanks to Microsoft, WE Day lives beyond a one-day event, making it easier for students, friends and family to change the world together, regardless of their location.

How you can be part of WE

Learn more about WE Schools – and sign up – at, where you can download a free kit with everything you need for a year of changing the world.


OneNote Class Notebook assignment and grading support comes to Blackbaud and eSchoolData

As written on
Over a year ago, we launched the OneNote Class Notebook add-in, with assignment and grade integration, connected to a Learning Management System (LMS) and Student Information System (SIS). Teachers from all over the world have connected OneNote Class Notebooks with their systems. We have heard requests for additional LMSes and SISes to be supported. The OneNote Class Notebook now integrates assignments and grades with over 40 LMSes and SISes—with more on the way.
With today’s OneNote Class Notebook add-in update, we are rolling out new LMS assignment and grade integration for Blackbaud onCampus and eSchoolData. To see the full list of committed education partners, please visit our OneNote Education Partners page. This page also has helpful training videos demonstrating how Class Notebooks integrate with each of the different LMSes and SISes.
Additions and improvements for the Class Notebook add-in, version, include:
  • Assignment and grade integration with Blackbaud onCampus.

  • Assignment and grade integration with eSchoolData.

Additional developments include:
  • Assignment and grade improvements for Google Classroom.
  • Bug fixes and stability improvements.
For details on how to attach your OneNote Class Notebook to a LMS or SIS and create assignments and grades, see “Class Notebook add-in getting started guide.”

Modern classroom collaboration with Office 365 for Education

By Kirk Koenigsbauer as written on
At Microsoft, our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. We believe that education unlocks potential and that technology can play a decisive role in helping the students of today create the world of tomorrow. At our event in New York City earlier today, we announced a set of new strategic investments in education, including exciting new innovations in Office 365 for Education and a preview of Office in the Microsoft Store for Education.
New innovations in Office 365 for Education
With more than 100 million active users, Office 365 empowers individuals, teams and entire organizations to communicate and collaborate. Office 365 for Education builds on this foundation and adds education-specific innovations like the OneNote Class Notebook and Learning Tools—creating the most complete, intelligent and secure service for teaching and learning. It offers the broadest and deepest toolkit for content creation, personalized learning and modern classroom collaboration. And best of all, Office 365 for Education is free for students and teachers!
In March, we released Microsoft Teams, a chat-based workspace, as the newest addition to Office 365. And at our event earlier today, we introduced new classroom experiences in Teams—new features that make Teams in Office 365 for Education the digital hub for teachers and students. These new innovations are in limited preview today and will be broadly available this summer.

The new classroom experiences in Teams will help teachers manage their daily workflow more easily than ever before. Using Teams, they can quickly and efficiently create classes with automatically populated student rosters from their school information system; share files and teaching materials; make announcements; divide the class into project groups and monitor progress; create, distribute and grade quizzes; deliver personalized learning with OneNote Class Notebooks; and distribute, collect and grade assignments. And because Teams is a digital hub, students can work together anytime, anywhere, and on any device; teachers can connect with their peers and continue their own development in Professional Learning Communities (PLCs); and school administrators can communicate and collaborate with their entire staff.
Even more exciting, the new classroom experiences will also help prepare students for the future. Anthony Newbold, principal at Bear Creek Middle School in Fairburn, Georgia, is an early adopter of Teams and helped us demonstrate the value of these new capabilities for teachers and students at our event this morning. He observed, “These new features do more than just simplify routine tasks. They also help students develop the communication and collaboration skills they’ll need to be successful in the future.” Word, Excel and PowerPoint Online already allow students to co-author documents in real time. But the rich, persistent conversation experience in Teams takes classroom collaboration to a whole new level. This running class discussion allows everyone to read, contribute and learn at their own pace—in class or at home. And moderation controls allow a teacher to easily delete a message, mute a student or pause the conversation. Teams conversations can include just about anything students need to work together, including Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents; OneNote notebooks; and Planner for group projects. And with just one click, the text-based discussion springs to life with voice and video—making it the ultimate collaboration experience.


Teams gets even better with partners, and today, we’re announcing four new integrations from education tech leaders busuu, Canvas, Flipgrid and Kahoot!. From directly within Teams, teachers can now help students learn a language with the busuu quizbot; access all their information and tools in Canvas; add video discussions with Flipgrid; and easily create and share Kahoot! learning games. All four integrations will be available this summer, and we’re committed to bringing more partners on board before the beginning of the next school year.
A preview of Office in the Microsoft Store for Education
Also at our event earlier today, Terry Myerson introduced Windows 10 S, a new Windows experience streamlined for security, simplicity and superior performance in the classroom. We’re pleased to announce a preview of Office in the Microsoft Store for Education starting in June—so teachers and students can enjoy the power of the full-featured Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps on Windows 10 S devices.
This preview of Office contains the Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps you know and trust, now delivered and updated from the Microsoft Store for Education. There are some differences in the apps that are worth calling out. The apps delivered from the Store will use new Store-based install and update technology; the apps will only be available in 32-bit format; and while web add-ins are fully supported, Office COM add-ins aren’t supported on Windows 10 S. The preview period will allow us to make sure things are running smoothly before we make Office in the Microsoft Store for Education generally available later this calendar year, and the apps will automatically be updated by the Store at that time. Additionally, it’s important to note that OneNote is already available in the Store today and the Teams app will be available in the Store in the third quarter of 2017.
Schools can install the preview on devices using the Set Up School PCs app or Microsoft Intune for Education. The preview will also be available for consumers through the Windows Store and can be activated on a Windows 10 S device with an Office 365 subscription.
We live in exciting times, and the pace of change can be breathtaking. With our new investments in education, we’re empowering the students of today to create the world of tomorrow. The new classroom experiences in Teams will not only help teachers manage their daily workflow more easily than ever before, they’ll also help students develop the communication and collaboration skills they’ll need to be successful in the future. And Windows 10 S will open a new world of possibilities in education. Combined with the power of Teams, OneNote and the full-featured Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps delivered from the Store, this new Windows experience will offer an affordable and easy-to-manage learning platform—inspired by teachers and students and streamlined for performance and simplicity.


OneNote at Klein High School - Managed Solution

OneNote Class Notebook supports English Language Learners at Klein Forest High School

By TaMara Breaux and Scott Howe as written on
Klein Forest High School is located in Houston, Texas. Our student body is about 3,700 students; our faculty and staff total approximately 500, and we are 1:1. We have an on-campus repair center that services our devices, but they do not teach teachers and students how to use software. That’s where we step in. As the instructional specialists in technology on campus, it is our responsibility to ensure that teachers and students can utilize the technology effectively for teaching and learning.
We first saw OneNote Class Notebook while attending the TCEA annual technology conference last February. We attended an amazing session called Personalizing Student Learning with the OneNote Class Notebook. We were in love with so many features of the class notebook, but what sold us was Learning Tools because of our high English Language Learner (ELL) population.

OneNote Class Notebook supports English Language Learners 1

As our campus struggled to step away from excessive paper copies in our 1:1 environment, administrators asked us for solutions utilizing our technology more effectively. We knew OneNote was a perfect solution. Before we could sell it, we had to become experts ourselves. So, we created a Class Notebook for our 13-member, cross-content specialist PLC. Our PLC was a team of guinea pigs. Once we gained confidence in the tool, we were ready to bring it to the staff. Like any school, our teaching staff contains all kinds—from technophobes to tech enthusiasts. Knowing that, we asked a few tech enthusiasts to pilot OneNote Class Notebook with their students. This way we would have tried and true testimonials for our technophobes from within the building.

This Sway showcases the use of OneNote at Klein Forest High School.

Just like we expected, they LOVED it. One staff member, an English IV teacher, used it with her students and immediately gravitated to the collaboration space. She had her students revise and edit each other’s essays and then leave quality feedback using the Record Audio feature. Her students asked her, “Why haven’t you been using this all year?”

OneNote Class Notebook supports English Language Learners 2

Another staff member, an ELL teacher, used it with his students who are new to the country and learning the English language. He was drawn to the Learning Tools add-in. He saw vast improvements in the students’ writing and language acquisition over time. He even made some tutorial videos as a supplemental resource for our teachers ready to jump in. A third staff member, a math co-teacher, used Class Notebook with his SPED students. He, too, liked the Learning Tools, but he loved how easy it was to organize. This proved to be extremely beneficial for his population because it made providing individual accommodations easier. Additionally, the teachers provided us feedback about potential obstacles, which allowed us to anticipate problems and have possible solutions readily available.
To prepare for our summer trainings, we decided to actively “promote” OneNote. We visited PLC meetings, made infographics, emailed the details out and posted on our website. During the summer of 2016, we provided professional development for our staff introducing OneNote and had them participate as students using a Class Notebook that we had created. Most of them fell in love with it on the spot. We also had the teachers who piloted OneNote during the previous year assist with staff development for additional buy-in.

OneNote Class Notebook supports English Language Learners 3

Once school started this August, things got off to a slower start than we anticipated. Teachers were falling into old habits. Therefore, we decided to switch our approach from marketing to grassroots. We targeted specific teachers who we felt were catalysts, teachers that would share our sentiments. This proved to be successful because—just like we suspected—it spread like wildfire!
Teachers and other campuses within our district began contacting us about OneNote daily. Soon, our district’s chief learning officer asked us to do a guest blog post in The Exchange, an in-district blog. As you can imagine, we were pumped.
One question that always emerges is how we support our teachers with OneNote. The first thing we do is schedule two appointments with the teachers. We have found that initial and ongoing support are a huge indicator of success, especially for teachers that are weary about trying a new tool. OneNote can be daunting for some. Additionally, we provide supplemental trainings like Using OneNote for Accommodations or OneNote Tips and Tricks for people at various places in their OneNote journey. Another way we support teachers is sharing and showcasing their efforts and ideas on our website. Lastly, we ensure we follow up with teachers frequently, whether it is a quick conversation in the hall or an email asking, “How’s OneNote going?”

OneNote Class Notebook supports English Language Learners 4

OneNote has been an excellent tool for our struggling students and co-teach classes. A few accommodations we have seen incorporated into OneNote are Read Aloud, enlarged text, graphic organizers, to-do list and use of calculator. (Did you know OneNote can solve simple equations?) OneNote helps students who may struggle with learning disabilities to keep their work organized because the teacher can distribute the work to their notebooks. Students are not losing or misplacing their work anymore. The differentiation of assignments is also made easy with the Distribute Page tool. Teachers can send out different assignments based on the needs of the students within the same class. Teachers also can watch the students work on their own computers and offer direct feedback during and after the assignment.

OneNote Class Notebook supports English Language Learners 5

OneNote Class Notebook has been a powerful addition to our technology toolbox. OneNote Class Notebook integrates with many different programs and, lucky for us, it integrates with both our LMS and SIS. OneNote Class Notebook integrates with our LMS, which means it can automatically enroll students in the OneNote Class Notebook—one less thing for teachers to do. Another nice integration is our SIS/gradebook. Our teachers can grade an assignment in OneNote, and with the click of a button, have those grades automatically added to their gradebook.
What we have learned in the last 10 months is that OneNote can work for everyone. We have just about every subject represented, from our math teachers to our dance teachers. We have also learned that initial and follow-up support are important for continued success. There are so many awesome features in OneNote, and it can be intimidating for some when trying to show them everything up front. We try to scaffold them as we continue to follow up with our teachers. Without a doubt, OneNote has positively impacted our campus instructionally, for teachers and students alike.


[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]microsoft educations new experiences - managed solution

Where to start and what to know about Microsoft Education’s new experiences

By Anthony Salcito as written on
A great classroom comes to life wherever students and educators meet. In working with our vibrant Microsoft Educator Community over the years, we’ve learned to reshape our ideas of what that great classroom looks like, how it works and even where it is. The world is changing right before us and, together, we have to recognize it as a pressing societal challenge – and our largest opportunity to prepare students for the future.
We shared our vision for inclusive, immersive learning at a Microsoft Education event in New York City today, where we announced new, affordable devices and a Windows 10 experience inspired by students and teachers – we call it Windows 10 S. We also shared new ways to work and learn together on screens, through games, and in 3D. Our ambition extends beyond simply moving the classroom from physical to digital. We believe we have an incredible opportunity to leverage technology in modern ways to provide more outcome-driven, personal learning paths for students.
It’s a lot to take in, so we’ve put it all together in five steps to get you started, with a few links to point you in the right direction. Whether you want to investigate new devices for your class or download some powerful creativity apps – or even build a complete classroom solution from beginning to end – each of the pieces below can help enable the right environment for you and support better learning outcomes.

1. Find affordable, easily set-up devices powered by Windows 10 S

A boy concentrates on the screen while his teacher provides guidance.

Many computers have a use in the classroom, but not all are built with students and educators in mind. We believe in the power of simplicity, which is why we’ve announced Windows 10 S, a bespoke version of Windows inspired by students and teachers. Windows 10 S, coming in time for the new school year, is designed to run only Windows Store apps verified for security by Microsoft, which makes software secure without compromising performance.
We’re also making it easy to find a broad range of affordable Windows 10 S devices for you and your students. Our powerful productivity toolkit, Office 365 for Education, is free for students, faculty and staff.  We also announced today that, for devices currently used by schools, Windows 10 S will be available for free on any compatible, genuine Windows 10 PC. It’s also free for devices like our new Surface Laptop, which you can pre-order starting today.
Learn more about devices powered by Windows 10 S:
Learn more about the new Surface Laptop:
We’ve heard from educators and administrators who want to bring our devices to their classrooms with an easy setup that doesn’t ask for constant attention throughout the year. That’s why we also spent some time today discussing Microsoft Intune for Education, which helps you get Windows 10 devices up and running with apps and settings managed more easily. Windows 10 S is streamlined for consistent performance and, when paired with Microsoft Intune for Education, schools can deploy new Windows 10 S devices in as little as 30 seconds per device.
Learn more about Microsoft Intune for Education:
See how an IT Admin and two teachers set up 24 Windows 10 Creators Update PCs in an hour:
Today we also announced a preview of Office, coming to Windows 10 S this summer through the Microsoft Store for Education. Once the preview is available, teachers and students will be able to enjoy the power of fully-installed Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps on Windows 10 S devices. Stay tuned to learn about more apps coming to the Microsoft Store for Education including: Adobe Photoshop Elements, Minecraft: Education Edition and many other apps for the classroom.


The front page of the Microsoft Store for Education.

2. Create collaborative classrooms with Microsoft Teams

This summer we’ll introduce new classroom experiences, designed specifically for educators and students, into Microsoft Teams. We’ve already released Teams to the education community through their Office 365 for Education subscription, which is free for students, faculty and staff.

A class and educator posting updates collaboratively through Microsoft Teams.

Microsoft Teams is a digital hub that brings conversations, content, and apps together in one place. It’s built on Office 365, which means your school can benefit from integration with familiar Office apps and services. It can be and customized to fit the needs of any school.
The education-focused features for Teams – like creating, distributing and grading quizzes, or collecting grade assignments all in one place – ensure that students, teachers and staff can get the most out of Teams. Educators will be able to manage classes and project workflow, and collaborate with other teachers and staff from a single experience in Office 365 for Education, while students can develop the communication and collaboration skills they’ll need to be successful in the future.
Read more about these new experiences in Office 365 for Education:

3. Create and learn in Minecraft: Education Edition with Code Builder

A student runs Minecraft: Education Edition on a Windows device in class.

There’s much more coming to the ever-expanding worlds of Minecraft: Education Edition. Today we announced the upcoming launch of Minecraft: Education Edition Code Builder – on May 22 – and introduced a new way to learn coding within Minecraft’s inspiring worlds. Learning to code becomes part of your students’ creative exploration in Minecraft, where code is represented as – what else? – blocks that can be used to execute commands and lead to new ways to explore, create and learn. Code Builder connects to learn-to-code platforms like Tynker, ScratchX, and a new open source platform we’ve come up with, called MakeCode.
A free trial of Minecraft: Education Edition and beta of the new Code Builder extension are available to schools today. Students receive a one-year subscription to Minecraft: Education Edition when their schools purchase new Windows 10 devices, starting today.
Build, craft and collaborate with Minecraft: Education Edition:

4. Discover new experiences to spark creativity

A young girl happily displays her digitally inked art on a Windows Surface device.

At our Microsoft Education event we shared a blend of the familiar with the bold. With Windows Ink on Windows 10 devices, we took the handwriting experience into the digital realm, with an intuitive pen-to-paper feel that preserves note taking as a critical learning process. According to IDC (International Data Corporation) research, 93 percent of educators say digital inking allows them to improve the quality of their curriculum and materials. As the next step, we’re inviting you to expand learning into three dimensions to fill the whole classroom with ideas and creations.
You can help students express themselves with an almost tangible touch through Paint 3D, which can transform the strokes of a digital pen into complex 3D sculptures. It’s also compatible with 3D printing, so statues and other objects can be brought into the classroom as a hands-on example. A Michigan Technological University study (PDF link) tells us that test performance and passion for learning is improved among students who experience 3D content and enhance their spatial skills, with female students enrolling in math and science at a higher rate after learning in 3D.
Realize your ideas and creations in Paint 3D:
We also announced something for the near future: We will offer mixed reality curriculum for the 2018 school year through a new strategic partnership with Pearson Education.

5. #HacktheClassroom through hands-on lesson plans and a live ISTE event

If you’ve seen anything today that inspires you to learn more about our vision for education, or to join our Microsoft Educator Community, the upcoming #HacktheClassroom event is a great place to get going.
The hack is back in our big hands-on event, bringing together the best innovators, disrupters and hackers in your education community to share their tips, tricks and clever shortcuts for building a bolder, better classroom without boundaries. It’s happening live at ISTE on Tuesday, June 27th, online and for free for those who can’t attend in person.
Register for #HacktheClassroom here:

We also have our ongoing Hacking STEM initiative, developed in partnership with educators to help bring Science, Technology, Engineering and Math projects down to earth. That doesn’t mean projects aren’t cool, though – the monthly lesson plans call for accessible materials like spools and cups to create fun and fascinating devices like robotic hands and earthquake simulators.
The Hacking STEM portfolio aligns with academic standards and encourages students to use computational design thinking, ideal for a breadth of careers in the future.  Each lesson plan maps to the Next Generation Science Standards and the International Society for Technology in Education standards, comes with detailed instructions for the maker activity and code needed for the project, and includes a hacked Excel worksheet with a prebuilt dashboard that contains meters, counters, charts and graphs for real-time data.
Download free Hacking STEM lesson plans:
Beginning on Saturday, May 6, Microsoft Store will host STEM Saturdays throughout May in all full line locations, in addition to the range of free programs year-round that empower students and educators by providing direct access to technology and hands-on learning. STEM Saturdays bring Microsoft Education’s pop-up classrooms to Microsoft Store and give participants a hands-on experience as they build a sensor that measures the flexion and extension of a finger. In the process, they learn about the anatomy of a human hand. Anyone, including teachers, students and parents can attend STEM Saturday workshops at a Microsoft Store, every Saturday in May.
Attend a STEM Saturday event at select Microsoft Store locations for parents, student and teachers. Learn more here:

Thank you for being part of this journey

We are excited about today’s announcements and the impact these new offerings will have on the digital transformation taking place in education. Though we know technology is important, we also know the people who use it matter most. We continue to be inspired by teachers all over the world and remain driven to empower today’s students to achieve more.


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