Bill Gates and Daily Edventures alumni Katie Brown, recently sat down and discussed the importance of professional development, leadership, and the culture within schools that enable teachers to succeed. The also covered hot topics like teacher-to-teacher collaboration, standardized tests, and Common Core State Standards.
“You can see how many different projects can join together for the same cause.” – Team I Copy You, Qatar
Some of the most exciting projects at the Imagine Cup World Finals competition are the ones that aim to break down barriers and make learning more accessible for all. For Qatar’s I Copy You team, participants in the World Citizenship category, the focus was on children diagnosed with autism – a large and growing community that is often underserved in traditional classrooms.
The team of two recent Qatar University computer science graduates presented a low-cost educational software that uses the Kinect camera to detect a child’s motion. The software then provides feedback to a RoboSapien (a low-cost humanoid robot) that mimics the child’s movement. Because children on the autism spectrum have difficulties with typical human interaction, this friendly robotic learning tool can make an important difference in the learning process.
I Copy You teammates Nour Musa and Wa’ed Hakouz, along with their mentor, took a few minutes to talk to me about their project, and I was impressed with not only their innovation, but the passion behind it. “We’ve tested it in schools, we’ve tested it with teachers, and with children,” Wa’ed told me. And because kids with autism have very different sets of strengths and challenges, they’ve customized the app based on the unique needs of students they were working with. “We worked with a child named Mohammed,” Wa’ed explained. “We talked to his parents, his teachers, his nurse, and we took into account his skills to create customized games.”
The idea came from their college supervisor, who brought a robot into class. According to Nour, “One of the children we worked with wanted to dress up the robot as a princess,” and that immediate connection between child and robot inspired I Copy You.
This was the team’s first Imagine Cup experience (here’s more from their win at the 2014 Pan-Arab competition), and they were clearly thrilled with the opportunity to interact with other teams at the competition, young people who share their love for technology, and their belief that it can make a difference in the world. As Nour says, “You can see how many different projects can join together for the same cause.” And it’s that potential – a combination of global collaboration and inspired projects like I Copy You – that perfectly illustrates the power of the Imagine Cup. Enjoy today’s Daily Edventure with I Copy You.
“The speaker asked, ‘Are there any Kiwis in the house?’ and our entire team just blanked out.” -Team Estimeet, New Zealand
If there’s anyone who can tell you what it feels like to have months of hard work pay off and culminate in a single moment of euphoria, it’s Jason Wei and his teammates Hayden Do, Chris Duan, and Derek Zhu from Team Estimeet. This is the story of four amazing students from the University of Auckland who, powered by a brilliant idea, passion for what they do, and a relentless work ethic, won the Innovation category at the 2014 Imagine Cup Finals in Seattle, Washington.
“It took us a moment to process that and it was only when he said ‘Estimeet from New Zealand!’ that we leaped from our seats,” Jason describes. It’s a special feeling, indeed, to not only be judged but recognized by the likes of Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, and Erik Martin, founder of Reddit, carrying a huge New Zealand flag up proudly to the world stage and shining amongst peers representing the cream of the crop of their respective countries. We had a chance to speak with Jason when the Imagine Cup finalists were presenting their projects at Microsoft’s Redmond campus, and were immediately wowed by the functionality, polish, and usability of the app.
Estimeet is an app that solves a real social dilemma by saving a lot of headaches when meeting up with friends. By allowing you to easily create an event and add your friends, you can see their real-time location and estimated time of arrival so there’s less guessing and waiting (see video for a quick demo from Jason).
“Friends being late and not letting you know is such a big issue that we just accept as part of our daily lives. Being able to step up and come up with an idea that solves this widespread problem (which affects everyone!) and developing the actual app is definitely the most rewarding thing,” says Jason.
The very intuitive nature of the app, however, is perhaps what makes it so innovative and what landed the team the top prize in this category. As Steve Guggenheimer (Chief Evangelist for Microsoft) put it prior to announcing Estimeet as this year’s winners, “with innovation, you don’t always know what you’re looking for, but when you see it, you’ve found it.” And while combining a real world problem with creative thinking and technical prowess may give you a great idea for an app, it’s hard work that’s the real catalyst behind success on such a huge stage.
“We’ve really put everything into Estimeet as a project- six months of constant hard work and refining the app and presentation- to be recognized and rewarded is really satisfying and motivates us further to move ahead as a start-up. Hard work really pays off.” It’s difficult to summarize the blood, sweat, and tears of half a year in a single sentence, but for Team Estimeet, all that hard work took them to the moment they stood up on that Imagine Cup Finals stage on August 1st.
“It’s hard to describe what went through our minds that exact moment but it would’ve been something along the lines of ‘Wow. We just WON at the World Stage!’”
One of my favorite things about interviewing students is that they are not shy about telling you what is working for them in their education, and what isn’t. That is certainly the case with the Imagine Cup students from Flipped.uy from Uruguay, whom I interviewed during the Imagine Cup World Finals.
“As students we suffered during our university life,” says Felipe Coirolo, one of the four members of Flipped.uy. “We would go to classrooms feeling that we were misusing our time.” Then, says Coirolo, they discovered Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), and education technology became their passion – specifically, the Flipped Classroom.
Coirolo, along with Nicolas Saul, José Chiarino, and Mariano San Andrea – all computer science students – created Flipped, a cloud-powered platform designed to create, host and distribute online courses, most specifically for Flipped Classroom and team-based learning use.
Flipped is platform agnostic, allowing students and educators to access the platform from any device. Students can use the course content at their own pace, and also engage with in-class activities. Teachers get real-time feedback from their students’ performance, and can focus on concepts where students need more support. They can also easily create courses using tools that already exist.
The team from Flipped.uy has bold plans to change the way classrooms operate – and as with so many of the Imagine Cup participants, I can’t wait to see what successes these passionate and driven students have ahead of them. Please join me in congratulating Flipped.uy on their work at the 2014 Imagine Cup, and their efforts to improve learning for their fellow students.
“We would like to contribute to better education. We strongly believe that how we learn is just as important as what we learn.” – Amra Buljubasic, Chemicalium
When it comes to students’ favorite subjects, Chemistry isn’t usually at the top of the list. But with the all-important focus on STEM skills, its importance is growing. So, where should we turn to make this notoriously dry subject more lively? Students at Imagine Cup World Finals, of course!
Hailing from Bosnia Herzegovina, Innovation category finalist and winner of Avanade People’s Choice Award, Chemicalium blended a love of both science and technology and created something extraordinary: a mobile app for elementary and high-school students that teaches chemistry…and it’s fun. The team, made up of students Amra Buljubasic, Ema Begulic, Hamza Subljakovic and Samir Supcic, along with their mentor Mohamed El-Zayat, “strongly believe in playful learning,” says Buljubasic. “We wanted chidren to enjoy it (chemistry) because they are natural scientists. They are curious about everything.”
With Chemicalium, each phone represents one element. By using Near Field Communication (NFC) technology and the “tap+send” feature of Windows Phones, students can create compounds by sending an element from one phone to another. Once a compound is formed in the phone, the user sends the compound to check if it exists in the compounds database. If the compound doesn’t exist in the database, an algorithm will start combining the elements based on the Valence shell electron pair repulsion (VSEPR) algorithm.
It may sound a bit complex, but it’s really quite simple in action. This great video the team created shows that Chemicalium appeals to younger students, high school students, and even teachers.
One of the things that impressed me about Chemicalium is how the team embraced differences, and turned them into strengths. Turns out, embracing differences is core to their mission. “We are all very different so we contributed to this project with different ideas, and that’s what made it very rich,” says Buljubasic. “We think that’s why we’ve succeed.”
It was a pleasure to speak with these incredible young people during today’s Daily Edventure. Please join me in congratulating Chemicalium on their fantastic showing at the 2014 Imagine Cup, and undoubtedly, on a future of success.
Last week’s Imagine Cup World Finals competition did not disappoint, with all the thrills and excitement you’d expect from a gathering of some of the world’s most inventive and talented young people. Winners of the competition stood out, not just because of the amazing apps they created, but because of the serious thought they put into how their projects could make a difference in the world.
I had the pleasure of getting an up-close look at some of the participants and their work, resulting in some high-energy conversations we plan to share over the coming weeks on Daily Edventures. Today’s talk is with Games competition winner Brainy Studio, who were awarded $50,000 and a trip to PAX Boot Camp for their TurnOn game. Team participants Evgeniy Romin (team lead and game designer), Ilya Antonov (digital artist), Nikita Galkin and Alexander Frolov attended the Perm National Research Polytechnic University in Perm, Russia. Their app, which should appeal to student gamers worldwide, tells the story of an electrical spark named Turnon who aims to restore electricity to a city after a power outage.
The team was inspired by Earth Hour, the global event that asks everyone to turn off their lights for one hour to highlight the importance of energy conservation. Brainy Studio asked the question: “What would happen if electricity disappeared?” — and responded with TurnOn, where users control a live character who’s delivering an important message. Windows 8-based TurnOn features strong storytelling, beautiful graphics and an immersive soundtrack, and the app has already won numerous national awards in Russia.
This was the team’s second experience at Imagine Cup, having earned a national win in 2013 for Witchcraft, an adventure game about a witch named Rudgrid. As you’ll see in the video, they’re enthusiastic supporters of their creation, and they took full advantage of the Imagine Cup experience to gain inspiration from teams from around the globe. Join me in congratulating Russia’s Team Brainy Studio on their impressive win, and enjoy today’s Daily Edventure.
It’s Microsoft Imagine Cup week, and this year we’re going big! The Imagine Cup World Finals have been taking place all week here in Seattle, and tomorrow, Friday, August 1st at 8:30 a.m. PT, you can join Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella for the final award showdown, simply by tuning in to the live stream of the Imagine Cup World Championship awards ceremony. There are some pretty incredible prizes to be won…including a private meeting with Bill Gates. Along with Satya, many other VIP judges will be on hand, including Hadi Partovi, the founder of non-profit Code.org(and a Daily Edventures alum), and Erik Martin, the general manager of Reddit.com.
The Microsoft Imagine Cup is the world’s premier student technology competition. Since its beginning 12 years ago, more than 1.65 million students from more than 190 countries have participated in the Imagine Cup. Witnessing these kids – 16 years and up, from all over the world — share ideas, have fun, and create incredible work is truly an honor. Each year, students create projects based on three categories: Games, Innovation and World Citizenship. And you can follow along with the competition, not only by watching Satya declare the victor, but also right here at Daily Edventures where I will be sharing my own conversations and interviews with many of the 2014 finalists.
Also this year, Seattle’s Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) and Microsoft will host Imagine Cup Day on Saturday, August 2nd. This will be a family-friendly affair, and the museum will open its doors for free to the public, while the Imagine Cup world finalists showcase their projects. If you are in the Seattle area, please join us at MOHAI and bring the family.
And don’t forget to join Satya Nadella tomorrow by tuning in to the live stream of the Imagine Cup World Championships. Congratulations to all the teams who competed in our National and Online Finals, to the 170+ teams who made it to the World Semifinals, and to the 35 teams who have made it all the way to Seattle!
“ALL students should engage in creative problem-solving activities and hands-on project-based-learning programs. [It] seems like much of this is still limited to the gifted and talented programs, but ALL students — and our community and world — could benefit from gaining these skills.” – Tricia Berry, USA
After Hurricane Katrina destroyed this HBCU school’s property and resources, Southern University at New Orleans chose Microsoft to help reconstruct their IT solutions from the ground up.
A small town in the United States experiments with self-directed learning at its public high school. A group of students gets to create their own school-within-a-school and they learn only what they want to learn. Does it work? Let me know what you think on Twitter @AnthonySalcito
Teachers are increasingly turning to project-based learning to engage students and to bring together all the important 21st century skills they’ll need in higher education and post-school life. At their best, these projects not only teach real-life skills, they also teach collaboration and maybe even connect students to peers in other schools. So when the UK’s Broadclyst Community Primary School (a Microsoft Mentor School) brought its idea for a Global Enterprise Challenge to the Global Forum’s Innovative Schools Pitch Competition, we jumped at the opportunity to share the idea with schools around the world.
Broadclyst has been running this project for several years, recently extending it to a partner school in the Netherlands. But the school’s vision, driven by Jonathan Bishop (interviewed here after the competition), demanded a bigger stage. They won the pitch competition by offering a way to promote social interaction within teams and across countries – all using Microsoft’s anywhere, anytime tools.
Here’s the idea: 1000 students across 20 schools in 20 countries will connect to run 10 international companies, each with 10 regional offices and teams — all using Office 365. The teams will develop, produce and market 10 products, and then pitch those products, competing with each other to become the most successful global company. The winning student team will be flown to Microsoft headquarters in Seattle, where I’ll present them with their award and they’ll get a chance to see a real global enterprise in action.
Teachers and school leaders: please consider taking advantage of this unique opportunity to expand your students’ skills, experiences and horizons on a global scale. Registration for the Global Enterprise Challenge starts NOW, and runs through this September, with the Challenge running from October 2014 through February 2015. Student teams ages 10-11 (exceptions for ages nine and 12 can be requested) are eligible and will receive all the information and tools they need to complete the challenge successfully.
It’s always a thrill to see great ideas come to fruition, especially when they have the potential to connect students to skills that will help them throughout their lives. We’ll be sharing updates along the way and, of course, highlighting the winners at the conclusion of the challenge. If you decide to accept the challenge (and we hope you do!), let us know how it’s going and we may even tell your story here at Daily Edventures.
“People are coming into the workplace with technical skills, but they lack so many of the fundamental human relational skills that are required now because the nature of problems in the workplace are so complex…” – David Conley, USA
It’s no secret that there’s a growing disconnect between what employers need from students coming out of universities, and the ability of the new graduates to fill those needs. Career readiness in today’s world is about so much more than just having technical skills – it’s the “soft” skills like communication, problem solving and collaboration that are in high demand in today’s workforce. And it’s no different for students transitioning from high school to college: they simply are not prepared for the reality they are graduating into.
As the author of College Knowledge and College and Career Ready, David Conley knows a thing or two about what it takes to be college and career-ready. When I spoke with him recently, he shared his perspective on what needs to change in our education system to graduate “ready” students.“We have focused in the past on making students eligible for college, without thinking much about whether they’re really going to be ready to succeed when they get there,” says David Conley, a national leader in defining and promoting college and career readiness, CEO of the Educational Policy Improvement Center (EPIC) and a University of Oregon professor.
Conley and his team at EPIC created a model that defines what they call the “four keys to college and career readiness”: think (key cognitive strategies), know (key content knowledge), act (key learning skills and techniques) and go (key transition knowledge and skills).
“Our message is that all students really – the vast, vast majority of students – can make a successful transition and can go on to college,” says Conley, “…but only if we think about readiness more broadly, and if we think about college not as a four-year degree, but we think about it as a wide range of options.”
In today’s Daily Edventure, Conley and I talk about everything from Common Core and how it fits into college readiness, to how educators can clarify what success looks like. We also explore why developing – and measuring (in a low-stakes way) – social skills is essential to helping our students become ready and relevant learners in both school and the workforce. Enjoy!
“It bothers me that we bring math from the real world into the classroom by way of textbooks on paper, where the problems…look lifeless on the page.” – Dan Meyer, USA
We all know that STEM subjects are essential in the 21st century workplace. We also know that these subjects – particularly math – are often overlooked or even avoided by students. Let’s face it: math class doesn’t have the greatest reputation. But Dan Meyer is on a mission to change that.
By reimagining the way we think about and practice teaching math, Meyer is making math the engaging subject it should be – and his work is getting noticed. From his very popular TED Talk, Math class needs a makeover, to national awards received for integrating multimedia with mathematics and media appearances, Meyer is having an impact. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to talk to him recently.
Meyer was a math teacher for six years, so he’s experienced first-hand the challenges of getting kids excited about what has typically been a dry subject. He’s a firm believer in teachers practicing – and being enthusiasts for – their subjects, and he’s now doing just that by pursuing his PhD in math education at Stanford University. He’s also sharing his perspective as a consultant to educational publishers.
“It bothers me that we bring math from the real world into the classroom by way of textbooks on paper, where the problems…look lifeless on the page,” Meyer says. “So a lot of my work is in how to make math – as it’s done in the world – more meaningful to kids.”
This quest for relevance plagues many a math teacher, and Meyer believes that kids don’t ask, “When will I ever use this?” because they actually want to know the answer. Rather, Meyer says, they’re expressing dissatisfaction with the way the material is being presented. And, as he notes, “Kids are not so easily fooled into enjoying algebra.”
From his work as a curriculum consultant, Meyer is convinced that this is an exciting time for education – if a bit of a “wild west” for innovation. “As we go to 1:1, curriculum has stayed the same,” he notes, referring to the limited ways technology has been used in many classes (PDFs vs. paper). “I’m excited about the different ways we can make our curriculum, our textbooks, mimic what kids love about the social web…it’s connections, it’s bringing people together…within a mathematical text book. The sky’s the limit.”
After talking to Meyer, and the many other creative math teachers around the world who are working to revolutionize math instruction, I’m excited, too. Enjoy today’s Daily Edventure with Dan Meyer, one of Tech & Learning’s 30 Leaders of the Future.
“We always look at the educational outcomes we want, then we back-track to the device, and ask what device and software combination will allow us to do that.” – Peter West, Australia
On my recent visit to Brisbane, Australia for an amazing Edutech Conference, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Peter West, an education technology specialist who is helping to transform learning at his school. Just as important, he’s helping others think differently about making the digital shift at their schools.
West recently launched “Bring Your Own Laptop” (BYOL) at Saint Stephen’s College, a co-ed, P-12 school on Australia’s Gold Coast. What’s different about this program is that it was introduced only after extensive preparation – years of research and experimentation. And unlike many classroom technology implementations, BYOL started not with the purchase of devices, but with careful and thoughtful planning.
West and his peers spent two years building content for the school’s learning management system. They rebuilt the school’s network to support an influx of new devices. And they experimented with a number of different devices from different suppliers – both tablets and laptops – to better understand how students would use the tools and how the tools would influence outcomes. “We always look at the educational outcomes we want,” West says, “then we back-track to the device, and ask what device and software combination will allow us to do that.”
Ultimately, the school determined that laptops were the best solution – providing the right set of tools and form factor for their students’ needs. “We want to go well beyond the Web 2.0 stuff and cruising the Internet and e-mail,” West told me. “We want to go to the whole learning and technology experience.”
With the Microsoft Student Advantage program, West and his team were able to provide students with Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus at no additional cost, since staff and faculty were already Office users. Standardizing on what West calls a “best-of-breed” solution worked particularly well for the school, as they have minimal technical support resources.
West generously shares what he’s learned at national and international conferences, and regularly publishes articles – often touting the benefits of integrated online learning environments that allow a large range of systems to integrate transparently. But what makes him an extraordinary educator, in my view, is his holistic and well thought-out approach to applying technology in the classroom. West has demonstrated that starting with the desired learning outcomes – rather than the device – helps to ensure a successful implementation and more engaged teachers and students.
Enjoy today’s Daily Edventure with Peter West.