SINGAPORE, March 25, 2014 – Educators from Singapore have earned top honors at the recent 2014 Microsoft in Education Global Forum. At the closing of the event, Microsoft Corp. announced that Chen Siyun from Chestnut Drive Secondary School and Richard Koh from Crescent Girls’ School were part of two separate winning teams in the inaugural Learn-a-thon awards. Both teachers were earlier recognised by Microsoft under its Expert Educators program. Crescent Girls’ School was also one of six global finalists and the only Asian school represented in The Pitch, another new activity at the event.
Introduced this year, the Learn-a-thon is a 24-hour challenge where education experts are grouped with peers from different parts of the world to design a learning activity that teaches students 21st century skills and displays innovative use of technology in three Millennium Development Goals: Poverty, Sustainability and Gender Equality. The groups competing in the Learn-a-thon were judged by a panel of five judges from NGOs around the world, with one winner and two runners-up for each Millennium Development Goal.
Chen Siyun, a Science teacher and ICT Head of Department at Chestnut Drive Secondary School, took home the top prize for the group project ‘Saving Nemo, Sustain the World” for Sustainability, along with three other team mates – Jessie Mann from Canada, Elizabeth Angel from Colombia and Kelli Etheredge from the United States.
“Participating in the Learn-a-thon combined two of my passions – solving educational challenges and using technology in new ways – and I’m honored to be recognized at this global event,” said Siyun. “Having the chance to meet with other teachers from around the world who share my passion for innovative education has been a rewarding experience. This has given me so many great ideas to take back to the classroom.” Siyun was previously named first runner-up in the Collaboration category at the 2012 Global Forum Educator Awards. Her group has plans to implement the winning project in schools across Australia, Canada, Columbia, Singapore, the US and possibly South Africa and the UK.
In the Gender Equality category, English language teacher, Richard Koh, who is also the ICT Director for Staff Development at Crescent Girls’ School emerged as second runner-up with his team mates – Tien-Hsi Chuang from Taiwan, Jeanette Delgado from Puerto Rico and Francois Jourde from Belgium – for the project ‘A Metaphor for Change’.
“The Learn-a-thon was truly a unique opportunity to interact, share and work with innovative teachers from different countries. I’m proud that our combined efforts to tackle the issue of Gender Equality in the classroom have been recognized on a global stage. It has been a great week in Barcelona and the experience has been invaluable,” said Richard.
The Pitch is a new initiative designed to seek out and kick-start the most innovative ideas from school leaders worldwide. Crescent Girls’ School participated in The Pitch with the aim of seeking collaboration with global organizations, to join as partners in the scaling of positive cyber wellness practices to youths all around the world. The school presented their project, ‘Global Cyber Wellness Ambassador Program’, which promotes good cyber wellness practices globally through a ‘for students, by students’ approach. This involves a three-tier learning framework which first requires students to learn about good cyber wellness practices, then apply what they learn, and finally be an advocate of good practices to others on a specially created Learning Experience Creator application.
“As youths and students become ever more connected, it becomes even more important to help them learn good cyber wellness practices so they can stay safer online,” said Mrs Tan Chen Kee, Principal of Crescent Girls’ School. “Through the ‘for students, by students’ approach enabled by technology, we hope that youths can become empowered advocates for cyber wellness, rather than being passive learners. Eventually, we want to form a global community of youth advocates who will work together to co-create content and activities, that will help make the internet better for everyone.”
The other finalists pitched for part of a USD 50,000 fund to help bring their visions to a reality and transform their schools. In addition, in partnership with the British Council, their projects will be incorporated on YouthSpark on Global Giving to help them continue raising funds for their ideas.
“It’s exciting to have the chance to see these innovative teachers and school leaders in action and recognize their efforts,” said Anthony Salcito, Vice President Worldwide Education, Microsoft. “Our awards programs capture the pioneering spirit of the Global Forum, putting the spotlight on those educators whose efforts truly stand out and have made a difference to their students’ learning. The impact of a great teacher can last a lifetime, inspiring and helping students strive towards and achieve their ambitions, so it is only right that celebrate these individuals. We’re looking forward to seeing the projects we’ve seen at the event come to life and create a greater impact.”
One of the world’s leading education technology events, the Microsoft in Education Global Forum was held from 11 to 14 March 2014 at Barcelona, Spain. The event united over 1,100 attendees, including 150 government education leaders, private sector executives, 250 educators and 75 mentor school leaders, to recognize and share ideas on the best of worldwide innovative teaching and learning enabled by the meaningful use of technology.
The Learn-a-thon awards round off a week of activity in Barcelona, which saw Microsoft reaffirm its commitment to protecting the privacy of students around the world, announce new partners developing education apps for Windows and highlight its suite of best-in-class products.
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Microsoft in Education Global Forum: Learn-a-thon
Information on award-winning projects by Singapore educators
Sustainability – Winner
Project: Saving Nemo, Sustain the World
Group members: Chen Siyun (Singapore), Jessie Mann (Canada), Elizabeth Angel (Colombia) and Kelli Etheredge (United States)
Schools from around the world (Singapore, Canada, America, Columbia, Australia and possibly South Africa & UK) will be coming together to embark on a journey of environmental sustainability, one of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG).
‘Nemo’ the fish, an icon for environmental sustainability, will travel to schools in six different countries around the world to spread the sustainability message. Over a period of six months, students will take turns to host ‘Nemo’ and during the visit, create videos and other materials to share sustainability efforts in their community on the project blog. They will then apply knowledge across subjects such as mathematics, science, geography, history and languages to build a meaningful sustainability service project. Students will train their ICT skills by using Microsoft Office for content creation, OneNote to share research and Lync for collaboration with peers from different countries.
Gender Equality – Second runner-up
Project: A Metaphor for Change
Group members: Richard Koh (Singapore), Tien-Hsi Chuang (Taiwan), Jeanette Delgado (Puerto Rico) and Francois Jourde (Belgium)
For this project, six learning activities incorporating technology were designed to help students better understand gender equality and to create awareness on the issue.
Working in groups across two countries, visual metaphors for gender equality are used as a focal point. Students are first tasked search and identify visual metaphors for gender equality and present their interpretation on Microsoft Powerpoint to their peers. Using collaboration tools such as OneNote and Lync, students work together to research, discuss and analyze gender equality indicators, trends and actions. Armed with the new information and understanding, students will review the initial presentation. They will be encouraged to take action on the issue by developing a gender equality awareness campaign by designing and sharing flyers and by using social media tools such as Twitter and Pinterest. Through the use of Microsoft Project Siena, students learn to create an app with the aim of sharing their community work globally.