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Microsoft’s Multicountry ITL Research Shows Students Not Getting the Right Skills for Work and Life

Microsoft announced the preliminary findings of its multicountry Innovative Teaching and Learning (ITL) Research, which shows that students can get the skills they need for work and life in the 21st century through school, but in practice, they rarely do.

This ongoing study, sponsored by Microsoft’s Partners in Learning program, is part of an ambitious international effort to assess innovative teaching practices — such as student-driven learning, extending learning outside the classroom, and the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) in the classroom — and their effect on how much students demonstrate skills such as teamwork, problem-solving and effective communication. The study aims to help administrators and policy-makers better understand the relationship between policy intentions, classroom practices and student learning outcomes in a broad variety of social, economic and cultural settings.

“Key findings from ITL Research showed that when educators develop learning activities that require 21st century skills, students demos them. However, > 50% of learning activities scored the lowest possible score, suggesting that many educators are only in the early stages of teaching these skills. It also showed that educators need clear definitions of these skills, examples of how to develop them through teaching and learning, and a way to measure their success.

A key finding of the ITL pilot year was that educators don’t have clear definitions or examples of how to develop students’ 21st century skills, but they said participating in the research itself provided them with the necessary definitions and examples.”


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