Sawubona!

This week I’m in Cape Town, South Africa and lucky enough to be surrounded by some of the most innovative education leaders, teachers and administrators in the world. We’re all gathered here for the sixth annual Worldwide Innovation Education Forum (IEF), the first time for the event ever to be held on African soil.

Attendees of this event include more than 500 educators, school leaders and government officials representing over 60 countries that continue to creatively and effectively use technology in their curriculum to help improve the way students learn. This is the worldwide finale of a year’s worth of country and regional events, during which 200,000 participants were whittled down to 125 teacher finalists presenting at IEF this week.

It’s this kind of caliber of education leaders that inspired the new partnership announced today: Microsoft Partners in Learning, the Smithsonian and TakingITGlobal have formed a three year, $1 million strategic partnership to help students and teachers connect with one another using technology, break down cultural and language barriers and drive positive social change.

This program is called “Shout” and it looks like this:

  • The Shout program will make use of technology to help students explore, connect and act to address some of the world’s most pressing environmental issues, while gaining important 21st-century skills such as collaboration, critical thinking and social responsibility.
  • Beginning in November, at http://www.shoutlearning.org the Shout program will issue a new challenge every two months to educators around the world through a webcast with Smithsonian experts and Innovative Teachers. Educators will then have access to curriculum and content on our Partners in Learning Network to help them unleash students’ creativity as they collaborate and connect with other students around the world. 
  • Every Shout project will provide students with a systematic approach to identifying a global challenge, collaborating with peers and mentors around the globe, launching an action plan, and carrying it through to create the change they envisioned. 
  • The first year of Shout will focus on issues related to the land; future years will focus on water and air.

One project already in motion, called “DeforestAction,” started as a Shout pilot project connecting students across multiple countries including the Philippines, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka and Australia. These students have put actions into motion that support the protection of rainforests in the Asia-Pacific region.

Check out a short video about their efforts:

Check back here for more stories from the event, especially Friday’s announcement of the worldwide winners.

You can also take part in the Twitter chatter around the event by following @microsoft_edu and tracking the hash tag #msief.

Posted by Anthony Salcito
Vice President for Worldwide Education