Four years ago, the Imagine Cup provided Edward Hooper with the opportunity to test his mettle against other young innovators around the world. By leading his team to victory at the world’s premier student technology competition in 2008, Ed gained invaluable experience in the use of technology to address some of the most pressing global challenges — experience that he would put to good use in his entrepreneurial pursuits.
At the Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals 2008, Ed and his three teammates developed the Smart Operational Agriculture Toolkit (SOAK), a solution that enabled sustainable agricultural water usage to alleviate water scarcity during drought. After coming up trumps in the 2008 competition, Ed continues to be closely involved with Imagine Cup even today, helping to promote the event to Australian students, assist in the execution of the local and worldwide finals, and was one of the judges for the Imagine Cup 2012 Worldwide Finals in Sydney, Australia.
“When I was a student, Microsoft opened my eyes to how technology can fuel developments, enabling aspiring technology entrepreneurs like myself to make valuable contacts and gain access to free software. I was closely involved in helping Microsoft coordinate events at my campus that let other students make similar connections and increase their own knowledge,” said Ed, who was also named as the 2008 Microsoft Student Partner of the Year in Australia.
Ed co-founded 121cast in 2012, a technology start-up that developed an online platform that delivers personalised information and entertainment for mobile consumption. Based in Melbourne, 121cast’s vision is to be the “radio station” of choice for smartphone owners while complementing modern lifestyles and consumption habits.
Aside from his work at 121cast — which includes the development of SoundGecko, an audio transcription service that allows people to listen to articles from websites — Ed is currently involved with the Melbourne Accelerator Program (MAP) as an Entrepreneurial Fellow at the University of Melbourne. MAP seeks to create an on-campus community of entrepreneurship by empowering students, staff and alumni to actively provide support for translating good ideas and research outcomes into practical innovations.
“While entrepreneurship is not widely spoken about or even suggested as a career path in schools, it is important to encourage young professionals to view failure positively in the pursuit of ideas. There is still a lack of entrepreneurial culture and awareness among many young professionals, and I would like to see schools doing more to encourage entrepreneurship, especially at a post-graduate level,” Ed added.
This article was written by Heather Mansfield, founder of Nonprofit Tech 2.0 (Bio) (LinkedIn), author of Social Media for Social Good: A How-To Guide for Nonprofits and owner of DIOSA Communications.
Many nonprofits rush into creating profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media sites without understanding that some of the decisions made during the set-up process will impact your social media campaigns for years to come. There are some basic steps that need to be made to both protect your nonprofit’s brand on the Social Web and to lay a solid foundation upon which to build your nonprofit’s presence.
Step 1: Create a unique email address for your social networking accounts.
The first step is creating an email address to be used solely for creating and managing your nonprofit’s accounts on social networking sites. Since staff turnover is a reality of professional life, having a staff person use their personal work email address to create the accounts is not a best practice. At some point when they leave your organization all the accounts will have to be handed over to a new staff person and all email logins modified, so it’s best to set up the accounts correctly from the beginning.
Named one of the Top 50 Websites of 2012 by TIME Magazine, Outlook.com is a new Web-based email client that also includes access to SkyDrive (a cloud-based file-hosting service) and a suite of Office Web Apps (Excel, PowerPoint, Word and OneNote) – all for free. To get started, create a Microsoft account. During the process you’ll be prompted to create a new Outlook.com email address. If possible, your new email address should be the same as your nonprofit’s website URL, such as firstname.lastname@example.org. Once you have created your new Microsoft account, you will then be given instant access to your new Outlook.com email address:
Step 2: Create a social media dashboard.
Logging in and navigating multiple social networks daily can be time consuming and most nonprofits have limited time to dedicate to social media. Save yourself 10-20 minutes a day by taking a few minutes now to organize your desktop. In Internet Explorer you can easily drag and drop any website into the navigation bar atop the browser, which then allows easy access to your nonprofit’s social networking communities. If you have opted to stay logged into Facebook, Twitter and other sites, then you do not have to log in individually each time you click on any given social network you have featured in your navigation bar: Step 3: Create a Master Login Spreadsheet
As the Social Web becomes more integrated into nonprofit communications and fundraising strategies, it’s likely that you will have five, 10 or even 20 separate logins to maintain and remember. To keep the process as simple and organized as possible – and to avoid the very common problem in which a volunteer, intern or staff person leaves an organization abruptly and takes with them the institutional memory of your social network logins – it’s a best practice to organize your logins in one Excel spreadsheet. To do so in Outlook.com, in the upper left-hand corner of the screen, click on the down arrow and select the “SkyDrive” pop-down > SkyDrive > Excel:
Next, create the following columns in the Excel document: Website Name, Email Address, Password, URL and Date Created:
Then each time you create a new community on the Social Web, enter the login information into your new Master Login Spreadsheet. Ensure that at least one person at your organization other than the social media manager has access to this Outlook.com > SkyDrive > Excel document. This ensures that your login history is secure, stored and easily accessible anytime, anywhere since the data is stored in the cloud.
Getting organized on the Social Web is a critical step that many social media managers skip altogether. Investing the time - up front - to organize yourself and store your passwords in the cloud will save you hours of time and prevent some big headaches down the line.
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 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
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.
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