April, 2012

  • Women and Youth of Sri Lanka Empowered

    Children trying out Microsoft MultiPoint technology
    The youngest ever children to try out Microsoft MultiPoint technology in Seenigama, Sri Lanka.

    Employee volunteerism is important to Microsoft. As part of Microsoft Sri Lanka’s Staff Volunteer Day, employees teamed up with the Foundation of Goodness (FOG) to plan a series of practical training sessions aimed at building career and personal development skills in 250 women and children in Seenigama.

    The sessions took place on 18-19 November 2011 with women and children gathered from 20 villages around Seenigama, all eager to learn from Microsoft and FOG staff. The two days saw multiple activities ranging from cooking and sewing lessons, leadership and skills building, information technology (IT) training, and a host of team building activities.

    One of the more notable activities was the introduction of Windows® MultiPoint® technology into a kindergarten classroom. It was the first time that these children had used computers. With MultiPoint, the kids could access a centralized computer simultaneously, all from the convenience of their own independent monitor, keyboard and mouse. This was a significant activity for Microsoft, as the kids were the youngest ever to use this type of technology.

    Other activities that stirred great interest were the personal development courses. These included cooking and sewing classes for women over 80, as well as public speaking courses. While Microsoft wanted the villagers to have fun with learning, Microsoft also wanted to help secure the youths’ future with the right job skills. To help raise the youth’s employability, Microsoft garnered the support of professional trainers from Global Talent Coach & Consultants (Pvt) Ltd who dedicated their time and energy to conduct free team-building and leadership courses to 180 youths. Microsoft staff themselves also planned in-depth feature trainings centered on two commonly used workplace programs, namely Microsoft® Office 2010 and Windows® 7. With these newly developed IT skills, Microsoft hopes that the youth will feel more confident about entering the workforce.

    All in all, the event was a great success. The organizers, Microsoft and FOG, were inspired by the active participation from the villagers. And the villagers themselves showed great enthusiasm throughout the two days. This was yet another accomplishment for Microsoft employees in their mission to help improve the lives of women and the youth worldwide.

  • Microsoft Thailand Helps NGOs Transform Communities

    A Microsoft instructor delivers free training on Hotmail to NGO participants
    A Microsoft instructor delivers free training on Windows Live™ Hotmail with cloud services to NGO participants in Chiang Mai.

    In order to help communities, Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) are faced with insurmountable challenges to advance social and economic development, allowing people to obtain better education and new skills to earn a wage or start a business. NGOs are often left to fend for themselves in terms of acquiring their own IT skills and knowledge.

    Microsoft believes that access to information and communications technology (ICT) alone is not enough – training and transfer of knowledge is vital as well. Microsoft recognizes the importance of this and has helped numerous communities across the globe through its NGO Connection Day events.

    Microsoft Thailand’s recent NGO Connection Day events were held in Bangkok and Chiang Mai in June and September, 2011, respectively. The aim of its Connection Day events is twofold – firstly, to provide a platform for Microsoft to donate software to NGOs and secondly, to help usage adoption through IT training and education to meet its “We Make 70 Million Lives Better” vision.

    Microsoft’s aim for the events was simple – to improve work flow processes for NGOs in the areas of donation management, internal and external communications (with stakeholders) and to streamline everyday tasks.

    Technologies demonstrated included Windows Live™ Hotmail and SkyDrive®, Microsoft® Live@edu, Microsoft® Office 2010 and the Windows® 7 operating system.

    Mr Birathon Kasemsri Na Ayudhaya, Managing Director, Microsoft Thailand, explained, “Cloud computing technologies would give NGOs a channel to access information anywhere, anytime.”

    One of the beneficiaries during the events was the Good News Shelter Foundation in Chiang Mai. Mr Charan Songkrasin, an official of the foundation, praised the effectiveness of Microsoft’s training by commenting that “Microsoft technologies have allowed us to work faster and more efficiently.”

    In total, 93 participants from 41 organizations in Chiang Mai and 154 participants from73 organizations in Bangkok benefitted from the events.

    “Technology opens doors to incredible opportunities for nonprofit organizations to extend their services to new communities and touch the lives of individuals in need,” commented Mr Ayudhaya. He added, “Microsoft’s software donations have helped organizations increase their productivity, allowing them to serve more people and offer services to benefit local communities.” 

    “Technology opens doors to incredible opportunities for nonprofit organizations to extend their services to new communities and touch the lives of individuals in need.”
    - Mr Birathon Kasemsri Na Ayudhaya, Managing Director, Microsoft Thailand
  • Microsoft Imagine Cup Winners Champion Child Nutrition

    Winning team with Professor Achmad Jazidie
    The winning team Gatotkaca with Professor Achmad Jazidie, Institution and Collaboration Director of Ministry of National Education Indonesia.

    Mrs Freddy Numberi with champions Gatotkaca
    Mrs Freddy Numberi with champions Gatotkaca and event participants.

    The annual Microsoft Imagine Cup challenges more than 325,000 students from 142 countries to develop technologies that help solve the world’s toughest problems. In its ninth year, the premier student technology competition encourages talented young software developers to tackle globally persistent social and environmental issues.

    Microsoft Imagine Cup 2011 Indonesia saw Team Gatotkaca from the Telkom Institute of Technology and Bandung Institute of Technology emerge victorious with a project to combat malnutrition among children. The ‘Childhood’ Project, available via a mobile phone app, allows users to access information on nutrition and healthy eating habits.

    The development of the application was spurred by World Health Organization figures, which indicate that malnutrition remains responsible for 35 percent of deaths among children under age five. To educate parents and caregivers on children’s needs, the application provides access to information on the first signs of malnutrition. Pictures of children’s saliva taken by a mobile phone camera can also be analyzed by the application for signs of dehydration.

    Team members Dody Qory Utam, Arganka Yahya, Kania Audrint and Anggunmeka Luhur Prasasti were exhilarated about winning first place and representing Indonesia in the Software Design category at the global finals, held 8-13 July in New York, USA. Team member Dody Qori Utam said they were proud to represent Indonesia at such an international event.

    The delegates also captured the attention of Mrs Freddy Numberi, wife of the Minister of Transport and Communications and a member of Wives of Indonesian Cabinet (SIKIB). After reading about Gatotkaca in a national daily, Mrs Numberi met the team and is now looking for opportunities to implement the solution across local communities.

    To develop the Childhood Project, the team utilized various Microsoft technologies to ensure a robust and integrated solution. These technologies included Microsoft Visual Studio 2010, Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Windows Server 2008, Microsoft Silverlight, Microsoft Expression, Microsoft NET 4.0 SDK, Windows 7, Bing, ASP.net Ajax, Orchard and Windows 7 Phone.

    First runner-up Team Macara from the University of Indonesia also showcased their solution at the New York finals. Called EDCOS, their project puts forth an idea to use algae as a viable biodiesel fuel alternative to control carbon dioxide emissions.

    Sutanto Hartono, President Director, Microsoft Indonesia said, "Indonesia needs these kinds of solutions and innovations. A key focus of Microsoft Imagine Cup is the development of practical applications for problems that persist across geographical boundaries. The winning team has taken that idea to heart and produced an application to be proud of.” 

    “A key focus of Microsoft Imagine Cup is the development of practical applications for problems that persist across geographical boundaries. The winning team has taken that idea to heart and produced an application to be proud of.”

     - Sutanto Hartono, President, Microsoft Indonesia

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  • Microsoft Enables Individuals to Realize their Full Potential

    Recipients of Microsoft Unlimited Potential Scholarship
    All the recipients of the Microsoft Unlimited Potential Scholarship,
    with Ms Jessica Tan, Managing Director, Microsoft Singapore

    Through the years Microsoft has endorsed initiatives, charities and volunteer organizations by offering software donations, scholarships and supporting its staff to volunteer their time equipping people with essential Information Technology (IT) skills needed in the 21st century workforce.

    One such initiative, the Microsoft Unlimited Potential Scholarship, was started with the objective to open up more information communication career paths to people with disabilities. Twenty-three year-old Jeremiah Oon was diagnosed with hearing impairment after a high fever at the age of three.  Mr Oon received the Microsoft Unlimited Potential Scholarship in 2009 when he was pursuing a Diploma in Information Technology at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, and has again been awarded the scholarship in 2011 as he pursues a Bachelor of Engineering (Computer Science) at Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

    “Microsoft recognizes the hidden potential that people with disabilities have and it encourages them to hone their skills,” said Mr Oon.

    The scholarship has also equipped 61 year-old Madam Cheow Chin Wang with skills for continued employment. When she started her IT classes at the Organization of Senior Volunteers (RSVP), she was computer illiterate. But with RSVP's lessons and Microsoft Unlimited Potential PowerPoint training courses, she is now teaching her skills as a certified trainer herself.

    “It’s a wonderful feeling to know that you are able to help and be appreciated. By helping another person, you not only put a smile on their face, but yours, too!” said Madam Cheow.

    Another beneficiary of Microsoft's initiatives is Michael Quek from the Society for the Physically Disabled (SPD). The 46 year-old was an electrician prior to suffering a stroke in 2005. Through Microsoft's Infocomm Accessibility Centre (IAC), an initiative dedicated to helping people with physical impairments attain greater independence, he gained the relevant skills and landed a design job.  He enrolled in IAC in 2008 with the aim of learning new skills to edit photographs he takes as a hobby. This evolved into a Visual Communications track in the IT Apprenticeship Program where he was exposed to a design environment.  Today, he works at an events management company.

    “I have a new lease on life. Disable does not necessarily mean unable. I take life on, one challenge at a time,” added Mr Quek.

    “I have a new lease on life. Disable does not necessarily mean unable. I take life on, one challenge at a time.”

    - Michael Quek, Recipient, Microsoft Unlimited Potential Scholarship 

  • Microsoft Awards Teachers for Innovative Use of Technology

    As part of the Microsoft Partners in Learning program, Microsoft presented awards to enthusiastic teachers who used technology innovatively.

    Julia Breem from Howick College has won the 2011 Microsoft Innovative Educators Award. She will also be given a professional development package worth more than NZ$5,000. Howick College has been named as a Microsoft Pathfinder school as the teachers were proactive in incorporating information and communications technology (ICT) into their lessons in an innovative way.

    “I feel so excited and honoured to be recognized for my passion in engaging students. It is very rewarding to see them being motivated with the project and this assures me that I have done the right thing. I hope that the project can change the perception of Physical Education in the school community,” said Julia.

    With the purpose of encouraging critical thinking through student collaborations, Julia developed a project using Green Screening, Microsoft Movie Maker®, Microsoft OneNote® and Microsoft SkyDrive®. Through this project, the students were able to develop leadership skills by tracking their own progress with a learning journal, and evaluating their performance consistently. The successful project helped to raise the percentage of student achievement and level of students’ involvement in their activities.

    “It is highly inspiring to see these teachers adding value to students’ education through the effective use of technology. We look forward to supporting more educators who embrace technology within classrooms,” said Evan Blackman, Education Manager, Microsoft New Zealand.

    In a global competition held by Microsoft, Chris Clay emerged as one of the winners of the 2011 Global Forum Educator Award on 10 November 2011. As the Head of Science Learning at Auckland’s Botany Downs Secondary College, Chris designed an online community and collaborative teaching platform that allows students from his class to discuss and tackle real-world biological challenges.

    Through this platform, Chris can upload podcasts of his lectures in advance, and the students are able to share notes and discuss biology with each other or with Chris using Wiki and forums. ­The platform has since expanded to connect more than 30 schools across New Zealand.

    “The whole experience at the Innovative Educators Forum was amazing, especially since I was able to meet other educators who are also passionate about integrating ICT into education. I strive to maximize all my students’ learning experience with the aid of technology,” said Chris.

    “It is highly inspiring to see these teachers adding value to students’ education through the effective use of technology. We look forward to supporting more educators who embrace technology within classrooms.”

    - Evan Blackman, Education Manager, Microsoft New Zealand

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