What is the Microsoft Partners in Learning Forum?

The Microsoft Partners in Learning South African Forum (formerly known as The Microsoft Innovative Teachers Forum Awards) recognises innovative teachers who are using ICT in engaging ways to promote teaching and learning. This competition is aimed at teachers who are using technology to enhance learning activities or as part of project based activities. The Forum rewards creative and dynamic teachers with great prizes and provides them with an opportunity to share their ideas with like-minded teachers.

Who should enter?
This competition is open to all practicing teachers at government and private schools in South Africa in all phases. Entries using any form of technology are welcome including computers, interactive whiteboards, tablet PCs, cellphones etc. Entries can make use of Microsoft software or other software.

From the online entries received, twenty finalists will be selected to present their projects at the South African Microsoft Partners in Learning Forum. This will take place from 1 – 4 April 2012 as part of the South African Basic Education Conference which will be held at the Durban ICC. Sponsorship to attend this conference will be given to all finalists.

At the South African Microsoft Partners in Learning Forum each finalist will be required to present a poster describing his or her project or lesson that uses ICT. Judges will each be assigned a selection of finalists’ projects to assess. Prior to the Forum, the judges would each have reviewed their finalists’ PowerPoint submission and then at the Forum they will interview their finalists to further discuss their projects and look at their displays.

Some of last year's winners
Louise Clarke and Kim Jackson’s project for Grade four learners involved reading the first chapter of book called ‘The Phantom Tollbooth’ and predicting what adventures the main character would have in “The Lands Beyond”. Learners produced artwork and scripts describing what they thought would take place and they then narrated their predictions using Windows Movie Maker. This project only used free software – and its true success was in the way it promoted collaboration and creativity amongst young learners
Thejane Malakane and his learners at Toloane Primary School in Lesotho noticed that there was an abundance of aloes around their school. They found out more about these plants by gathering information from a traditional healer, the community, the radio station, the Morija Museum and Achieve, and the Morija Scott Hospital. The class has then produced a Photo Story to share their findings as well as aloe products to sell. Thejane is seen here with Wessel Theron from Bishops in Cape Town - another winner from last year.

Natalie Meerholz and her high school learners aimed to encourage the school and surrounding community to address the issue of e-waste. Activities included creating e-posters and e-advertisements; reusing e-waste in the form of sculptures; and holding an e-waste launch. An e-waste bin has been set up to encourage responsible e-waste disposal and recycling.

Lyneth Crighton ran a workshop in which Grade 10 learners explored the novel “Cry the beloved Country” using Web 2.0 collaborative tools. The girls collaborated on a wiki, participated in an online discussion forum, created a pod-cast and developed a word cloud. Colleagues across learning areas got involved in the workshop to show that the themes in the novel were applicable to a range of learning areas.
Malatela Monaheng’s (above left) school is bisected by a main road – putting learners in danger when then cross from one side of the school to the other. To educate learners about road safety, this project involved learners meeting with road safety officials to learn about the rules of the road and to collect road accidents statistics. The learners then made a radio presentation; were interviewed by an established newspaper; and they performed and recorded a drama about road safety which they have distributed to other schools.

What are the prizes?
Microsoft will cover the travel and accommodation costs for all twenty finalists to attend the South African Microsoft Partners in Learning Forum as well as participation in the South African Basic Education Conference. This will take place at the Durban ICC from 1 – 4 April 2012.
The best projects overall will represent South Africa at the Middle East Africa Microsoft Partners in Learning Forum which will be taking place in Morocco in July 2012. Winners from this regional forum will then participate in the Global Partners in Learning Forum which will be taking place in Greece. A range of other prizes from various sponsors will also be awarded.