April, 2013

  • Skype Enables Unique Learning Experiences beyond the Classroom: Sri Lanka

    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.

  • Microsoft APAC Innovating for Good 2013

    Young people can do amazing things given the right opportunities and resources. They are constantly innovating and pushing the envelope with creative ideas to address a social need. They are challenging old ways of doing things and finding better ways to solve an old problem.

    Increasingly, we’re seeing a growing opportunity divide between young people who have the access, skills and opportunities to be successful and those who lack the skills, education, experiences and connections to employment that are required to survive and thrive. Closing this divide is one of the most important actions we can all
    take to secure the future for our youth, and as a result, the future of our global economy.

    At a time when youth unemployment rates are at an all-time high, and with an estimated 600 million jobs that will need to be created over the next decade to make up for jobs lost in the recent economic crisis, creating jobs for young people has become one of the most urgent problems facing countries all over the world. So how can we help to close this opportunity divide?

    To address these issues, Microsoft has created a company-wide initiative, Microsoft YouthSpark, which is designed to create opportunities for 300 million youth around the world over the next three years. We want to empower youth to imagine and realize their full potential by connecting them with greater opportunities for education, employment and entrepreneurship.

    One of the ways we are doing this is through Innovate for Good, a Microsoft YouthSpark programme that enables young people to collaborate, inspire and support each other while using technology to make a difference in their communities, and provides the tools and resources needed to bring their ideas to reality.

    More than a year ago, six regional Innovate for Good events were held around the world for young people between the ages of 16 – 30 who were interested in the concepts of social innovation, social entrepreneurship and social good. They were offered a set of training opportunities and activities to help bring their ideas closer to reality.

    This year, we’re taking this regional concept further and bringing local versions to more countries around the world so we can reach out to even more people: whether their interest is volunteering, working at a nonprofit or starting their own venture.

    We kicked off Innovate for Good in Asia Pacific in Indonesia five weeks ago, and we are delighted to bring this programme to Thailand (19 – 20 April), Taiwan (April 20 – 21) and the Philippines (May 18 – 19) over the next five weeks, where hundreds more young people will participate in similar conversations that are taking place all over the world.

    We’re very excited to meet these young people in the weeks to come and look forward to hearing what is on their minds, what keeps them up late at night, the interesting projects they are working on and the ideas they’ve been thinking about to see how we can help connect them with people and resources to further their aspirations.

    For updates on Microsoft YouthSpark and Innovate for Good, follow us on:

  • YouthSpark Profile: Mickey Chiu

    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.




      FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/chiu.mickey



    A student at Shih Hsin University, Mickey Chiu participated in Microsoft’s internship programme during his first year of university. Mickey put the learning experience gained during his internship stint to good use — coming up trumps in last year’s Microsoft Community Star competition with an idea based on the use of Windows 8 devices to connect with remote communities. Today, Mickey is a certified Microsoft trainer for Windows 8 and Office for Mac 2011.

    Tell us one exciting thing that you have been working on in the past 3–6 months?
    My work partner and I took part in the Microsoft Community Star competition last year. Our team’s idea was to visit some of the more far-flung areas in Taiwan, bringing along the latest Windows 8 devices to foster a stronger bond with children from remote communities. Our goal is to introduce the latest computing technology at their schools, and we are greatly encouraged by how well our project was embraced by both the students and their teachers.

    What are some of the challenges facing youth today that concern you the most?
    From the perspective of being a student, one of the biggest challenges we face is in identifying sources of funding support that will enable us to realise our ideas. We have to be more resourceful in our approach. For example, my teammate and I learned to make extensive use of Facebook as our platform to promote and garner public support for our project.

    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?
    I would like to set up a television channel dedicated to highlighting the issues faced by underprivileged people in Taiwan, especially orphaned children who lack the advantage of growing up in a proper  family environment. As computing technology becomes more sophisticated, there is a great opportunity to tap on social media and smartphone applications to mobilise support and raise donations for people in need.

    I aspire to... be more creative. My mother is a painter and a great source of inspiration in my life, helping me realise that we need to always make the most of our creative ideas.

  • YouthSpark Profile: Ya-Han Yang

    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.






    Ya-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.

  • Bridging the Gender Gap - Girls in ICT Day

    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.

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