What started out as only an idea to transform a school bus into a mobile learning centre has turned into reality for New Zealand’s 2020 Communications Trust — in the form of DORA, the Internet-connected solar-powered vehicle that enables the nonprofit organisation to take digital learning to virtually any community.
In October, DORA walked home with the top award in the Internet Access & Digital Skills category at the 2012 Australia and New Zealand Internet Awards (ANZIAs).
Established in 1996, the 2020 Communications Trust is a nonprofit organisation dedicated to a variety of digital literacy projects. The Trust's reach has expanded across New Zealand through a number of highly acclaimed initiatives such as Computers in Homes and Stepping UP, which are supported by partners, including Microsoft.
“We have worked hard to turn DORA from a good idea into a reality,” said Sue Davidson, Computers in Homes Regional Coordinator and Project Manager for DORA. “We started with a 26-year old school bus and now have a high-tech Internet-connected solar-powered mobile learning centre. It’s been like renovating an old house – and has taken just as long! The project would not have been possible without the generous support of our partners, including InternetNZ, Microsoft New Zealand, Meridian and Farmside, as well as the many people who have directly contributed to the fit-out.”
The ANZIAs recognise excellence in businesses, organisations and individuals in the development and use of the Internet in Australia and New Zealand. In giving the award for the DORA project, they acknowledged the Trust’s track record of achieving digital inclusion through innovative programmes and initiatives; the ability of the mobile digital learning centre to respond to the earthquake recovery in Christchurch was of particular interest for the judges.
“Microsoft recognises the efforts of the 2020 Communications Trust to realise its vision of bringing mobile digital learning to New Zealand, and we are glad to have the opportunity to support innovative projects such as DORA. There is a great potential for mobile digital learning centres to contribute to bridging the digital gap, especially in communities in remote locations,” said Paul Muckleston, Managing Director, Microsoft New Zealand.
“We have worked hard to turn DORA from a good idea into a reality — starting with a 26-year old school bus, we now have a high-tech Internet-connected solar-powered mobile learning centre.”
- Sue Davidson, Regional Coordinator, Computers in Homes
For more information, please visit www.2020.org.nz
Microsoft Indonesia has teamed up with the US Embassy, the Global Entrepreneurship Program Indonesia (GEPI) and Dell to launch the inaugural Intellectual Property Rights App Challenge, aimed at raising awareness among the Indonesian public about Intellectual Property (IP) protection and enforcement through mobile phones.
In the Intellectual Property Rights App Challenge, Indonesian app developers will compete across any platform (Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Blackberry RIM) to create the best app that helps promote the message of piracy prevention and copyright protection. The two winners from both the student and professional competitions will each receive funding of US$5,000 and support from the GEPI to refine their apps for public launch on World Intellectual Property Day in April 2013.
IP protection is critical to the promotion of innovation and entrepreneurship. It has been estimated that more than 87 percent of PC software used in Indonesia is pirated; therefore IP protection is considered to be a significant concern in the country.
“Effective IP protection plays an important role in fostering innovation and creativity in the technology sector,” said Andreas Diantoro President Director of PT Microsoft Indonesia. “Mobile phones today are the primary mode of communication for Indonesian youth and young professionals, particularly in urban areas. Through the Intellectual Property Rights App Challenge, Microsoft and our partners hope to invite both aspiring and professional app developers to create interactive, fun games or educational messages to increase consumer awareness of IP protection issues in Indonesia.”
“Microsoft hopes to invite app developers to create mobile apps to increase consumer awareness of IP protection issues in Indonesia.”
- Andreas Diantoro, President Director of PT Microsoft Indonesia
For more information, please visit http://ipappchallenge.gepindonesia.org/
For 25-year-old Malaysian Michael Teoh, a highlight of his relatively young career was being selected as one of the two winners and global ambassadors in the ‘Your Big Year’ (YBY) 2011 competition hosted by the Smaller Earth Group. Applicants compete in a series of challenges that involve themes of social entrepreneurship and global citizenship that positively impact the world.
The YBY ambassadorship paved the way for Michael to lead a global expedition to 22 countries in 2012, providing him with the opportunity to interact with governments, businesses and nonprofit groups as well as learn how to develop and lead social initiatives to empower youth.
“Technology opens up a whole new world of knowledge and connectivity among youth today, keeping them updated with recent trends and changes in their society. The YBY ambassadorship provided me with the opportunity to learn how to use platforms such as social media and online learning tools to empower youth globally,” Michaelsaid.
One of Michael’s earliest experiences in the development of technology solutions was through his participation in the Microsoft Imagine Cup. In 2008, the former Auckland University of Technology student competed at the Imagine Cup competition and worked with teammates from diverse backgrounds for a common goal — the use of technology to address global problems.
Michael explained, “Microsoft provided access to the Student Developer Network, giving us the online tools to create smart technology applications to aid youth. The support from Microsoft made a big difference, and opened up our perspectives on how technology can be used to transform lives. Today, through my own initiatives, I am involved in coaching youth and young executives to create positive change within their own organisations and communities.”
Michael relishes the opportunities that have opened up for him as a youth advocate with an active role in a number of social enterprises. For instance, he is serving as the Managing Editor of Entrepreneurs.my, an online portal he co-founded, and various speaking engagements aimed at inspiring youth around the world to harness their innovative ideas for a meaningful cause.
He also sees a great potential in the use of technology to help improve the lives of millions of underprivileged children, especially those in rural areas, to bridge the technology divide.
“Computer literacy in many rural areas around the world is still lacking, often preventing young people from getting improved job opportunities. More can be done in terms of building awareness as well as providing better access to technology and developing a grassroots-driven approach to address this problem, whereby teams of technology experts can be stationed to mentor and cultivate the usage of the latest technology and computing devices in these rural communities,” Michael added.
YouthSpark is a Microsoft companywide initiative designed to create opportunities for 300 million youth in more than 100 countries during the next three years. Through partnerships with governments, nonprofits and businesses, Microsoft aims to empower youth to imagine and realise their full potential by connecting them with greater education, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities. We want to empower youth to change their world.
See a full list of Microsoft YouthSpark programmes here.
Microsoft Australia hosted 20 female computing and information technology (IT) students at its Sydney office on 9 October in partnership with Girl Geek Coffees (GGC), a local nonprofit organisation that facilitates networking between young women pursuing their interests in computer, science and engineering.
At the event, the self-styled ‘Girl Geeks’ took the opportunity to network with each other and with Microsoft employees including senior executives such as Pip Marlow, Microsoft Australia Managing Director, and HR Director Rose Clements.
The participants also took part in a design challenge, competing in teams to develop the best concept for a new PC, tablet or mobile phone application. Several Microsoft employees chipped in as team mentors to help the Girl Geeks develop some brilliant app ideas that embody the creativity and spirit of innovation that the technology sector is built on.
“Collaborations with nonprofit groups such as GGC help to strengthen Microsoft’s reputation as an employer of choice for Australian women,” said Ms Marlow. “We hope to provide young women the opportunity to unleash their creativity and innovation in a relaxed environment, as well as to share with them more about Microsoft’s flexible and inclusive culture.”
GGC was started in Queensland in 2009 and has since expanded to include chapters in all major Australian universities and in major cities around the world. Building on the support from industry ambassadors and corporations such as Microsoft, GGC aims to continue nurturing a strong enthusiasm for IT among young women.
“Girl Geek Coffees is passionate about providing support for students and early career females in ICT. We encourage our members to network together, in order to foster much needed colleagues as they develop through their careers. We also engage in group work activities, such as networking games and app competitions. These foster a sense of team spirit, group identity and closer interpersonal bonding,” said GGC founder Miriam Hochwald.
“We are delighted with the positive feedback from the students who participated at the event. Working together with GGC, our shared goal is to improve the rate of female participation in the sciences and technology sector,” Ms Marlow added.
“Working together with Girl Geek Coffees, Microsoft Australia hopes to provide young women the opportunity to unleash their creativity and innovation in a relaxed environment.”
- Pip Marlow, Managing Director of Microsoft Australia
In October 2012, Microsoft Citizenship launched its inaugural YouthSpark Master Class, an initiative focused on empowering the next generation of change makers to realize their potential.
A Master Class is all about learning from the best, but also about sharing experiences and taking those insights and applying it to our own endeavours. This Master Class programme is part of the global Microsoft YouthSpark initiative,which is aimed at creating opportunities for 300 million youth in more than 100 countries over the next three years.
“It was a very insightful event, and it’s so good to know that there is so much information and programmes that today’s youth can benefit from,” said panellist Simy Paul, Associate Technical Manager, Microsoft Singapore, and Innovate for Good Youth Ambassador.
Sixty-one young people, who have previously participated or been beneficiaries of Microsoft’s various youth-focused programmes, were invited to the Master Class held in Singapore.
Muhammad Sufi Bin Amran, 2010 Microsoft Unlimited Potential Scholar, said, “The YouthSpark Master Class has inspired me to broaden my mind and pursue the things I want to do in the future.”
The participants got together to share their views on the future of innovation, gain new perspectives and exchange ideas with Craig Mundie, Microsoft’s Chief Research and Strategy Officer.
Helene Auriol, Managing Director of Microsoft Singapore, kicked off the event with her welcome address, highlighting Microsoft’s commitments in Singapore through investing in talent development and capacity building to help create a more inclusive Singapore society as well as to close the opportunity divide for young people.
“We are very committed to the development of the youth in Singapore. It’s a matter of being prepared to be a role model of the future, to innovate and enable creation of new business. That’s something we really believe in — that together, we can empower the youth around this country to create, realise and imagine their full potential,” said Ms Auriol.
Her presentation was followed by Mr Mundie sharing his thoughts on the new era of personal computing, and how maturing technologies will change the way people engage with computing systems and gain insights from big data to make better decisions. According to him, the computing ecosystem is evolving rapidly and requires new ways of thinking about computing in the years ahead.
Mr Mundie also took part in an interactive panel session with several participants, discussing how the latest personal computing technologies have a key role to play in addressing many of the challenges facing the world.
This first staging of the YouthSpark Master Class received a rousing response from the participants, who were impressed by the breadth of ideas shared during the event.
Leonard Tan Ming Fong, a Nanyang Polytechnic student, said, “The dialogue with Craig Mundie was the event highlight for me, as he provided good insights into areas where computing can be used or improved to help others.”
“The integration of a wide range of devices, cloud services and natural experiences that span the technology ecosystem will enable truly personal computing – nothing will work in isolation, and everything will work for you.”
- Craig Mundie, Chief Research and Strategy Officer, Microsoft
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