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.
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 alltake 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:
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
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: MICKEY CHIU YEN CHANG COUNTRY: TAIWAN OCCUPATION: STUDENT FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/chiu.mickey
BIOA 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.
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