Education professionals around the world are exploring the use of Skype™ as a platform to connect their classroom and share their learning experiences with teachers across the globe. Skype in the classroom is a free global community that invites teachers to collaborate on classroom projects through the use of Skype, to share skills and inspiration around specific teaching needs.
To facilitate global collaboration, a group of teachers from a rural school in southern Sri Lanka joined a virtual classroom exchange programme via Skype in the classroom that will enable students from other parts of the world to experience the wonders of a tropical rain forest.
Located on the edge of a rain forest, Rambuka eVillage School organises frequent trips into the rain forest to allow students to learn and gain experiences beyond the classroom. During the expeditions, students have the opportunity to conduct experiments and explore the wide range of flora and fauna that the rain forest offers.
The teachers at Rambuka eVillage School initiated the “Visit a Rain Forest in Sri Lanka” Skype lesson to share their unique learning experiences, which are especially beneficial to those students situated in urban areas and cities.
“More teachers around the world are starting to leverage Skype technology to expose their students to new environments and provide a more interactive means of learning. These interactive learning sessions have a direct benefit for Rambuka eVillage School, too, as their students are given the opportunity to practice and improve their use of English when they converse during the Skype discussions,” said Andy Schmidt, Head of Social Good, Skype.
The “Visit a Rain Forest in Sri Lanka” Skype lesson was greeted with enthusiasm by teachers from around the world — more than 70 teachers have expressed their interest to participate since the interactive lessons went live in October 2012.
“Most of my students are city dwellers, aged between 11 and 15. The rain forest is something so different and unfamiliar from their usual environment, and they would be very interested to learn more about it,” commented Ana Luz, a teacher from Argentina.
Women and girls are extremely underrepresented in science and technology in the developing and developed world. In an effort to encourage more women to consider careers in information and communication technology (ICT) fields, Microsoft is supporting the International Telecommunications Union for its annual Girls in ICT Day on April 25. Girls in ICT Day brings together girls, young women and university students to attend events hosted by ICT companies, NGOs and government agencies around the world.
Microsoft believes that in order to build the most innovative technology solutions and solve the world’s toughest problems, we need teams that are diverse. To achieve that, we must not only ensure that Microsoft Research is a great place for women researchers and engineers to work, we must also join with others to help bridge the gender gap in technology careers. View a video on bridging the gender gap in IT.
Read more on Microsoft's Corporate Citizenship Blog about how we are making an impact on women and girls in providing them with the opportunities and skills needed to be successful in ICT careers.
International Women's Day is commemorated annually on 8 March with a slew of activities celebrating the achievements of women around the world. This year, Microsoft Korea and the Korea Women’s Network (KWN) celebrated International Women's Day by jointly organising a two-day charity auction on 4-5 March to raise funds for a common cause.
All proceeds from the charity auction will be donated to Eastern Social Welfare Society, a nonprofit organisation that provides dedicated foster care and adoption services for young children in South Korea.
Nearly KRW3 million (US$2,700) was raised during the event through the auctioning of personal belongings donated by 14 Microsoft Korea senior executives. Items ranged from coffee machines to clothing items. The funds enabled Microsoft Korea and KWN to donate 24 boxes of diapers and 17 boxes of baby milk powder to Eastern Social Welfare Society.
“Microsoft is delighted to collaborate with the Korea Women’s Network to organise this event in conjunction with the annual International Women’s Day celebration, and at the same time help to raise funds and support Eastern Social Welfare Society. We are also greatly encouraged by how our employees have stepped up to make a positive impact on society,” said James Kim, Country Manager of Microsoft Korea, who was one of the senior executives from Microsoft who took part in the event.
The KWN also announced that it would be kicking off a new monthly volunteering programme starting on 8 March with the participation of around 30 female volunteers, led by Microsoft’s Bong Joo Kim, Partner Territory Manager, Small, Mid-market Solutions and Partner (SMS&P) Group, and So Young Lee, Community Programme Manager. Under the new programme, the volunteers will visit the Eastern Social Welfare Society on every second Friday of each month to provide care for newborn babies who are waiting to be adopted.
Jin Sook Kim, President of Eastern Social Welfare Society, said, “We will continue to work closely with our partners from both the corporate and nonprofit sectors to improve the welfare of disadvantaged children in South Korea. We would like to thank Microsoft and KWN for successfully running the charity auction, and the generous donations made during the event will go towards enriching the lives of these young children.”
“We would like to thank Microsoft and KWN for successfully running the charity auction, and the generous donations will go towards enriching the lives of disadvantaged children.”
- Jin Sook Kim, President, Eastern Social Welfare Society
On 20-21 April, more than 100 young people participated at the first ever staging of the Microsoft Innovate for Good event in Taiwan.
Part of Microsoft’s global YouthSpark initiative, this event brings together youth from across Taiwan to share ideas and support each other in developing projects that address emerging social issues. A majority of the event participants were young people who are already leveraging the training opportunities and activities provided by Microsoft in Taiwan, such as Student Programme, the GIRLS Power Up programme for aspiring female entrepreneurs, Imagine Cup Taiwan contestants, as well as ten student volunteers from nonprofit group Alliance Cultural Foundation.
During the event, Microsoft Taiwan also invited its nonprofit partners to share their experiences in using technology as a catalyst for new ideas.
Vincent Shih, General Manager and Chief Legal Officer of Legal & Corporate Affairs at Microsoft Taiwan, said, “The key objective of Innovate for Good is to promote more active engagement between Microsoft and promising young people in Taiwan who are committed to using technology to make a difference. Through our innovative capabilities we want to provide the latest tools and resources and help them develop new solutions that create a positive impact in their communities.”
Some of the projects showcased at the Innovate for Good event in Taiwan include:
Each of these projects will be supported by Microsoft staff and nonprofit professionals who will provide advice and expertise across the span of project development.
The event also aims to heighten the level of awareness among Taiwanese youth about how the latest technology and social media platforms can further empower young people to broaden the impact of social programmes — while providing more opportunities for burgeoning social enterprises to commercialise their business ideas.
“The interaction between our staff and the event participants was highly beneficial, especially in providing the young people with a better sense of how to make their social projects marketable in order to turn their ideas into reality," said Mr Shih.
For more information on Microsoft Taiwan’s Innovate for Good event, please visit https://www.facebook.com/Microsoft.Student.Program?v=wall.
This is part of a series of YouthSpark profiles where we highlight young people in Asia who are dedicated to changing the world through technology, and inspiring others along the way.
NAME: YA-HAN YANG COUNTRY: TAIWAN
OCCUPATION: OPERATIONS MANAGER, CAREBEST INC.
BIOYa-Han Yang first nurtured her interests in community work as a student at the National Taiwan University’s College of Science where she took part in various social service activities. As a student volunteer, she contributed to educational initiatives in offshore communities as well as helping to improve the lives of senior citizens. After completing her further studies in the United Kingdom (UK), Ya-Han set up CareBest Inc., an organisation dedicated to fulfilling the needs of elderly people in Taiwan.
Tell us one exciting thing that you have been working on in the past 3–6 months.
Running my own business is definitely one of the most exciting things I have ever done in my life. After coming back to Taiwan from the UK, I wanted to start up a business focused on improving the quality of life for the elderly. The work has been a great source of happiness to me personally, and I hope the company can help influence other corporations to do more to help the less fortunate.
What are some of the challenges facing youth today that concern you the most?
A great challenge faced by many young people around the world is a lack of access to opportunities to build on their talents and make a difference to their society. Unequal wealth distribution and the digital divide are the major contributing factors to this problem, which results in youth from poorer communities not having the opportunity to fulfill their dreams. I believe more can be done to harness the latest technological developments to improve lives and open up more opportunities for all.
If you had the ability to create one change in the world, what would that be and how can technology help you achieve this change?
The biggest change I would like to see happen is greater progress in sustainability projects, as it is foreseeable that our planet will face a shortage of resources in the future. Technology can help in at least two aspects — advances in recycling and the development of new automation tools to make it easier for people to recycle used materials.
I aspire to… lead a good life. Looking back, I am grateful that my grandparents have imparted to me many important values that include frugality, humility and respect for nature.
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