October, 2010

  • Dispatch from Cape Town: Exceptional teachers step on the global stage

    Greetings from South Africa!

    This week I have the privilege of being in Cape Town, South Africa among more than 500 educators, school leaders and government officials who have gathered from around the world to attend the Sixth Annual Partners in Learning (PIL) Worldwide Innovative Education Forum (IEF).

    South Africa, with its vibrant economy and diverse culture, is a fitting destination for this year’s PIL Worldwide Innovative Education Forum, the “World Cup” for Innovative Teachers and School Leaders, uniting to celebrate innovation and share best practices to meet the needs of today’s generation of learners.

    This week we are celebrating the worldwide finale of a year’s worth of country and regional events, during which 125 finalists were selected to present their innovative teaching from 200,000 participating teachers around the world. They are vying for 12 Worldwide Innovative Teacher Awards that will announced at the end of the event on Friday, October 29th in the following four categories:

    • Innovation in Community
    • Innovation in Collaboration
    • Innovation in Content
    • Educator’s Choice

    Education is critical to the social and economic development of every nation, and to the ability of individuals everywhere to reach their full potential. An engaging teacher is one of the top predictors of student success and this year’s IEF will showcase some of the best:

    · Cheryl Arnett, a teacher at Sunset Elementary School, Craig Colorado, used technology to connect her first grade students to a classroom on the opposite side of the globe in Beirut, Lebanon. The classes share ideas, experiences, and learning through the use of digital stories and Web 2.0 tools on the internet. Check out Cheryl’s post about her trip to South Africa here.

    · Linda Bradfield, a teacher from South Africa received the “Innovation in Collaboration” Award at the 2010 Pan-African Innovative Education Forum for her “Trash to Treasure” project which facilitated easy collaboration among specific groups beyond the classroom. Linda’s project demonstrated how 6 and 7 year olds can collaborate with their community of parents and trash collectors to collect and process waste, using technology to document their story and what they’ve learned.

    · Jonathan Serunkuma of Uganda helped his students rid the environment of waste while generating money for themselves and their communities. The project is coordinated by the Fine Art Teachers, who work hand in hand with the Entrepreneurship and Biology teachers. During this process, the community is also educated about the dangers of poor waste management, and the importance of sorting waste.

    · Florence Aulanier, teacher at Lycee Cassini in France, used technology to break down generational barriers and address discrimination. The project introduced students and the elderly to operatic artists and composers. Together, these groups wrote a libretto against discrimination. Participants communicated by Internet to improve the libretto together and ultimately the opera will be performed at a theatre. In addition, students made short movies against discrimination which are made available for viewing on the internet.

    Providing quality education to the 1.4 billion students around the world is essential to the future of our society. Technology is one tool can help them achieve their greatest potential. Through the Microsoft Partners in Learning program, these teachers are not only driving transformational change in their classroom, they are sharing their practices and experiences with other educators around the world.

    I am excited to see how the educators attending this year’s WWIEF use what they learn to reach, motivate and ensure the success of every student.

    To learn more about everything happening in Cape Town this week go here.

    Also check out videos of the three U.S. teachers competing in Cape Town this week below.

    Lauren Woodman, General Manager Government and Education Engagement Programs

    Cheryl Arnett, Sunset Elementary School, Craig Colorado


    Thomas Gaffey – School of the Future, Philadelphia, PA

    Pat Yongpradit – Springbrook High School, Silver Springs, MD


  • Running to Give…

    Among the many things I will remember about my eight-week visit to Redmond, one of the most uplifting will be the sight of hundreds of Microsofties assembled together, running and walking for a cause bigger than themselves.

    On a surprisingly beautiful Friday afternoon, more than 1,700 Microsoft employees gathered at the company’s main campus sports field in Redmond for a 5K run to raise money for local charities.

    The event was part of the month long Microsoft Giving campaign that Akhtar wrote about last week.  The campaign is an incredible reminder of the passion, ingenuity and generosity of our people in having a real impact on their local communities. Last year employees in the US alone raised more than $80 million. The 5k run is, in all probability, the single biggest of the 300 fundraising activities planned this year. The runners, walkers, volunteers and spectators also enjoyed music and entertainment provided by other employees, as well as the opportunity to meet with the nonprofits benefitting from the event.

    The money will go to three local nonprofit organizations: Boys and Girls Clubs of King County, Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America and Summit Assistance Dogs.  

    Sabah Hamid

    Sabah Hamid is the manager of corporate and citizenship PR in Microsoft India. Prior to joining Microsoft in 2007, she worked with a public relations agency on diverse technology and energy clients; and then a non-profit working in the area of sustainable development.

    Sabah is currently spending a few weeks in Redmond (or the ‘mother ship’, as a Seattle airport official pointed out) as a career development exercise, and making extensive use of Bing Maps to find the correct bus numbers and go exploring in her free time.

  • Helping rebuild Haiti by bringing broadband to schools

    At Microsoft, we just recently kicked off our companywide Giving Campaign in the United States, which is a great opportunity for employees to donate their time and money to help support a wide range of charities that they personally believe in and are passionate about. One of the charities that I've pledged to support is NetHope.

    NetHope is a unique collaboration of the world's leading international humanitarian organizations – working together to solve common problems in the developing world through smarter use of technology. NetHope’s 32 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) represent more than $33 billion dollars of humanitarian development, emergency response, and conservation programs in 180 countries. Since 2005, Microsoft has partnered with NetHope to help transform the way the world’s largest humanitarian agencies work…and since the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti back in January, Microsoft and its employees have donated more than US$2 million year to date, to enable communications and equip humanitarian staff for relief and recovery efforts.

    We also realize that Microsoft’s investment must go far beyond essential relief and recovery efforts. We must help provide local schools digital access so learning can continue. As I’ve blogged a lot about recently, everyone…child, teenager and adult…has the right to a quality education…and that is so important as Haiti rebuilds and the people there look toward a brighter and more prosperous future.

    At the Clinton Global Initiative 2010 Annual Meeting this month, Microsoft, along with Inveneo and the EKTA Foundation, committed to invest US$1.5M in communications, technology and capacity building for schools and NGOs.  This commitment represents anticipated impact that includes: 

    • 60+ entrepreneurs in the IT sector will gain access to new clients and the ability to deliver relevant ICT services through training and mentoring;
    • 200+ NGOs will gain improved communications and IT capabilities to improve their service delivery;
    • 40+ schools and 24,000 students will gain access to improved education through technology;
    • 100,000+ people will gain basic computer literacy skills; and
    • 400,000+ people’s lives will be improved through access to Information and Communications Technologies they never had before.

    I’m excited to see this work kick off this month.  On October 25, in partnership with NetHope, Microsoft is installing its first “lighthouse” lab in Haiti to help bring the country's leading computer science college back online– a local center of excellence in collaboration with nonprofits and for-profit partners from around the globe.  We hope this work we will inspire our other partners to get involved to help transform education and to build a better future for our children – one school at a time. 

    Anthony Salcito is vice president of worldwide education at Microsoft.

    Note: This post was originally published on Anthony’s Education Insights blog.

  • The Mary M. Gates Learning Center at United Way

    Yesterday in Alexandria Virginia, United Way Worldwide officially opened the Mary M. Gates Learning Center overlooking the Potomac River.

    The center, which was made possible by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, includes technology provided by Microsoft and gifts from  Deloitte, Nationwide Insurance Foundation, The Principal Financial Group and several individual donors. The center is state-of-the-art with construction based on the goal of attaining Gold LEED certification for high performance green buildings.


    Amanda Ponzar from the United Way has a post on the opening over at the Lipsticking blog.

  • Empowering Youth through Partnerships

    I had the pleasure of speaking at the International Youth Foundation’s Youth Leadership and Livelihoods conference in Washington, DC, today. I participated on a panel entitled “The Global Challenge – and Opportunity – of Youth Employment” with colleagues from public, private and civil sector organizations. The panel could not have been more appropriately named. As the global economy continues to struggle and as demographic, political, environmental and other factors continue to increase pressure on our most precious resource – youth – it is sometimes hard to be optimistic. But working in partnership we can open up many opportunities for our young people despite these daunting obstacles.

    In a long week of many meetings and events, this was a highlight. Looking out at the audience of several hundred people – including representatives of local IYF network members, youth leaders, international donors, and foundations, I was reminded of the amazing commitment to youth empowerment that exists around the world.

    Our global commitment to youth education and entrepreneurship is part of our Microsoft Unlimited Potential initiative, which invests in programs, products, and partnerships to help catalyze education, innovation and economic opportunity. We also train people in jobs skills that are needed inside and outside the technology sector.

    Our partnership with IYF draws on a number of our Unlimited Potential programs, including our Digital Literacy curricula and software donations programs to support IYF’s youth employability initiatives such as entra21 in Latin America and the Youth Empowerment Program in sub-Saharan Africa.

    Along with literacy and numeracy, basic technology skills are increasingly essential in every sector of the economy. For example, a recent IDC survey in Europe showed that within 5 years, 90% of all jobs will involve using basic technology, and up to a quarter will involve advanced technology. And in many developing countries, basic technology access and skillscan enable a trajectory into the workplace and continuing education.


    Last week we released our 2010 Citizenship report which provides insight into our approach and commitment to addressing economic and social issues and reports on our progress across the company. I want to draw your attention to picture on the cover of our report this year. The girls in this picture all participate in the Global Give Back Circle - a program to give young women in Africa an opportunity to safely complete high school and continue their educations or enter the workforce. It is the promise of youth, especially young girls and women that makes me especially proud to be part of our collective efforts to changes lives and create opportunities.

    I encourage you to join the dialogue at http://www.iyflive.net/


    Pamela Passman is corporate vice president of global corporate affairs at Microsoft.

    Pamela S. Passman
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