Microsoft’s Education Transformation Framework: A K-12 framework for holistic digital transformation

Digital transformation is an indisputable force revolutionizing our industries, reinventing our products, redefining our services, and reshaping the way we work. The impact is so dramatic that Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum, has dubbed it the fourth industrial revolution.

Our students will enter this very different world. So, how do we prepare them for this future?

Education system leaders around the globe are acting on the need to prepare students for this new world, which means changing the culture and very mission of schools. They must cultivate students’ future-ready skills, such as communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking, and they should mitigate the growing problem of dropouts. It means meeting the differentiated learning needs of students, all while maintaining a climate of equity for all.

Education systems need to accelerate their transformation to enable more active, engaging experiences driven by data, and designed to develop students into autonomous, creative adults. Technology is the enabler and the leveler, providing ethical and equitable access for all across the globe.

This is a people journey

While the digital transformation of our society and the workforce creates new opportunities for learning and for extending the classroom beyond the school, it is critical to remember that the primary transformation journey for education is propelled by people first.

We need to inspire students to connect their learning, purposefully, to what they want to make and do in their future and challenge them to dream bigger and expect more every day. We need to create fearless educators who embrace change, support and learn from each other, and use tools and approaches that place good outcomes at the core of everything they do. Our leaders must reinforce culture and focus on the energy of the learning path, establish a north star for change, and bring agility to process.

Making change happen calls for leaders at every level – leaders who are themselves committed and adept learners. It also takes a shared vision and strategy.

Technology will support, enhance and be an essential component for our schools and education systems, both today and in the future. We must put outcomes and people first in this ever-growing, evolving technology landscape.

When technology is within their reach, students and educators do remarkable things. Microsoft’s education solutions empower every student to achieve more.

Although there is no one-size-fits-all technology to transforming education, our thinking can be informed by looking at education systems that have successfully transformed. Working with some of the world’s leading education systems – and seeing their successes in using the Education Transformation Framework for K-12 – has illuminated our path.

Microsoft has evolved our Education Transformation Framework to map out the wider range of issues that systems need to tackle. Working with education system leaders, edtech experts, and researchers, we have co-created a roadmap to inform thinking and support holistic transformation.

Global best practices lead the way

Countries who have used the ETF K-12 are keenly aware that digital transformation of education is not an end-state, but a constant and iterative process. Developing a culture of learning in schools is not enough. Creating education systems that learn, whether at the school level or in school administration, is the path to successful and ongoing re-invention in our rapidly changing world.

Microsoft Education Transformation Framework

The Microsoft Education Transformation Framework (ETF) is an effective, flexible platform for education transformation based on the latest research and input from hundreds of academics, experts, and policy makers. We distilled the key insights into a single, powerful framework now available to education systems everywhere. By recording and analyzing their evidence and research data, and working in consultation with academics, experts and policy makers, we’ve identified what works and what doesn’t. The most successful transformation projects globally share the same approach – one that’s holistic, methodical and systematic.

We also distilled the key findings and made them available to school leaders everywhere. The result is an Education Transformation Framework grounded in the latest research into effective policy, leadership and pedagogy transformation.

Learn more

In addition to the online resources, we offer deep-dive workshops where Microsoft experts will help you analyze your system, identify your challenges and opportunities, design and develop a plan and create a cadence for iterative evaluation.

Deep and sustainable transformation of the education happens only with the support of people at every level – schools, local authorities, universities, teacher training colleges and national governments. The Microsoft Education Transformation Framework gathers the latest thinking from all of these to help you plan.

Recognizing that school contexts vary, and that change can be ‘whole school’ or ‘incremental,’ the framework is open and non-prescriptive, providing a flexible starting point. It is underpinned by a suite of executive summaries, white papers and provoking questions, all designed to stimulate conversations and provide guidance for managing the critical aspects of change.

We’re excited about the journey ahead and making real impact to support our shared mission to help all students achieve more.


    Schwab, K. (2016). The 4thindustrial revolution. In World Economic Forum. New York: Crown Business

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