Microsoft and FIT launch Youth2Work – an Initiative Developed to help Address the Youth Unemployment Challenge
Today we announced details of our YouthSpark programme in Ireland with an investment of €6 million by the company, and a target to empower 30,000 youth to change their future over the next three years. The programme includes a range of educational initiatives, software donations for youth focused non-profit organisations as well as support for entrepreneurial initiatives. The launch was at Microsoft Offices in the presence of the Taoiseach, Mr. Enda Kenny, T.D (Prime Minister), and attended by 300 invited guests and employees. Invited guests comprised people from Government, key influencers, and youth organisations across Ireland.
As part of the YouthSpark programme development in Ireland, we worked with long-time NGO partner FIT to develop Youth2Work to help tackle Ireland’s youth unemployment problem. It is a training and development programme targeted at 18 – 25 year olds, giving them information, advice and access to ‘in-demand’ skills, work experience and interview and CV development support. Complementing existing government funded interventions, this youth focused initiative it aims to reach 10,000 unemployed youth over the next three years helping to strengthen their chances of securing work in the IT sector.
Young unemployed people will be encouraged to do courses in areas including mobile technology, cloud computing and gaming. We supported FIT in the development of the course content and curriculum and each has valuable industry recognised Microsoft accreditation.
Bernard Dunne was also announced as the Youth2Work Champion. A former WBA Super Bantamweight World Champion and now an accomplished broadcaster and author, Bernard Dunne is an example of someone who has continually acquired new skills and has evolved his career in the process. To show his support for the Youth2Work initiative and to highlight the accessibility of the training, Bernard will complete a mobile technology course over the next four months. He will be blogging and tweeting about this progress throughout the next 16 weeks using his Microsoft Surface RT and Windows Phone 8 devices on and


Pictured above from the right:  Bernard Dunne Youth2Work Champion, An Taoiseach – Irish Prime Minister, Cathriona Hallahan MS MD, Peter Davitt CEO Fit

Pictured above from the right: Bernard Dunne Youth2Work Champion, An Taoiseach – Irish Prime Minister, Cathriona Hallahan MS MD, Peter Davitt CEO Fit


Pictured above: An Taoiseach and Cathriona Hallahan meeting some of the youth ambassadors who are starting their Youth2Work Courses

Pictured above: An Taoiseach and Cathriona Hallahan meeting some of the youth ambassadors who are starting their Youth2Work Courses


Details of Youth2Work can be found at: or

Initial coverage – Irish Times:
– RTE Online:
– Irish Independent:
– Silicon Republic:

Now let’s see if we can do something like that in the North!!!!!

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Another great video from Anthony

Here is another worthwhile video walkthrough for the Partners in Learning Network

Make sure to subscribe to the Microsoft Edu Channel and the Partners in Learning Channel

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Windows 8 and Education

Watch this powerful video from WW VP Education, Anthony Salcito, on how Windows 8 and Office bring immersive learning experiences into the classroom

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A New Year

I guess I have taken enough time since my last post. With the holidays over and getting back into the right frame of mind, I thought I owed you the 1st update of the New Year. The 1st half of FY 12-13 has been very busy and very rewarding. As you will have noted from my earlier posts, we had our most successful WW Global Forum, our most successful Innovative Schools campaign and the biggest launch of new and updated products in the history of Microsoft. There was also the biggest upgrade to date on the Partners in Learning Network with plenty of new resources, discussions, tutorials, training and much more. Make sure you visit the site often and if you haven’t joined, be sure to make that an easy to-do New Year resolution. Instructions can be found HERE

There was plenty more that went on but that’s all on this site and you can catch up at your leisure J

So what’s in store for the rest of the year? The biggest event on the horizon is BETT 2013. Microsoft and Partners in Learning will be very active and involved at this year’s event. The Microsoft Education Team from the UK manage this on behalf of the company and always do an amazing so be sure to stop by and visit if you get over there. The PiLs programme will also be very busy that week.


We will hopefully have guests at the following events:

Following BETT there will be the 3rd
TeachMeet in NI taking place in Derry in the NW. It will be on Friday Feb. 8th. Make sure you register or join online on the night. You can find the details for registration HERE. They also have a Facebook page and a Twitter account

Following up to these, in the coming weeks I will be announcing the:

  • Launch of this year’s Innovative Educators Competition. The competition is changing this year in that there will not be a European Competition in March. The winner from Northern Ireland and Ireland will automatically be invited to the next Partners in Learning Worldwide Global Forum (venue TBD). This should take place around March so make sure you check in to keep updated and don’t hesitate to contact me if you’re interested.
  • Launch of this year’s Innovative Schools Invitation. This year there will be a limit to the number of schools wishing to apply as only 1 school can be selected from NI and 1 from RoI. Please contact me in advance if you are interested to discuss your eligibility. This should kick off in late February/early March. All Innovative School selections are expected to attend the WW Global Forum next November (venue TBD)
  • Re-launch of the Partners in Learning School Research. The survey site is being integrated into the PiLs Network site to enable a more joined up and easier to access experience. Details will follow. I will be working in partnership with the Regional Training Unit of NI to deliver and support this programme.

Still loads more to come, but that’s enough for the 1st post in the New Year J

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Acer Iconia- A great device for the classroom

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David Young Wins in Prague !!

Where do I even begin? Well, the best place to start is by telling those who don’t already know:



David with Laura Ipsen, Corp VP WW Public Sector and Anthony Salcito VP WW Education

Over 3 intense days of presenting the work David’s students did in their project “Infinity Architecture- the Nurture Centre” David won 1st Place in the “Knowledge Building and Critical Thinking” category. Not only the judges were impressed but everyone that had the time to stop by his stand and hear about the amazing work his students did and what they learned from this experience were impressed. He had to present to a panel of judges who were senior Educators from Slovakia, Morocco and Hong Kong. David was also chosen as one of the 7 video pops for the event and here it is:

I would also like to give a big shout out to our Education Minister, John O’Dowd (@JohnODowdSF), for following the event and tweeting his congratulations J

There was so much happening that night it was difficult to keep pace. Here is the full list of winners with links to their projects. If you’re not already registered on the Partners in Learning Network, here is a great reason to do it now. You’ll see and be able to share these wonderful projects that are changing students and teachers’ lives. Make sure you check out the new “Hot Topics” section:
1. US – Doing business in Birmingham, Pauline Roberts and Rick Joseph
2. Singapore – Impactful Online Service Learning, Chen Siyun
3. Germany – Creating Fairytale-Radioplays, Holger Fröhlich
Knowledge building
1. Northern Ireland – Infinity Architecture, David Allan Young
2. Malaysia – The Journalist, Zamimah Binti Azaman
3. Lebanon – The Warak Warak Method, Youssr CHEDIAC
Beyond the classroom
1. Jordan – Glimmer of Hope, Ghadeer Obiedat and Rania Obiedat
2. Canada – little hands big world, Devon Caldwell & Leah Obach
3. Brazil – Ecoweb, Margarida Telles da Cruz
3. UK – The Hit Squad, Katie Boothman
Cutting edge use of ICT
1. UK – Kodu in The Klassroom, Nicki Maddams
2. US, “LYNC”ing Distance Learning Math Classes to Blind and Visually Impaired Students, Robin Lowell and Sherry Hah
3. Australia – Playing. Designing. Learning. Using Games and Project-Based Learning to Develop Creative, Innovative and Independent Learners, Alice Leung
Teacher as a change agent
1. Pakistan – Aqua Crunch, Munazza Riaz Butt
2. Nigeria – Rescue Mission, Ayodele Odeogbola
3. Cyprus – Online and Community-Based Research on Recycling Practices, Maria Loizou Raouna
Educators Choice:
1. Portugal – Oratio Classroom, João Carlos Ramalheiro
2. Macedonia – Fun, Education, Stop Motion Animation, Darko Taleski, Sofija Grabulovksa
3. US – What’s up Egypt, Todd LaVogue

Here is the video of David hearing his winning announced:

Here is a jumpy video that will give you some idea of how wonderful the Grand Ballroom of Prague Castle is and how privileged we were to be able to celebrate this wonderful event in.

I want to congratulate all of the winners but say a special congratulations to our UK buddies, Nicki Maddams from Hartsdown Technology College and Katie Boothman from Community School for their great projects and wins at the event.

I would also like to thank the 2 Judges from Ireland, Deirdre Butler and Michael Hallissy along with the Ireland Teachers who attended the Innovative Schools track. They all had some very long days in attending a variety of workshops, discussion groups and project teams. They are:

Lena McMorrow- from St. Mary’s College in Derry

Beverly Cripps from Ashfield Girls HS in Belfast

Eileen McStocker and Gerard Duffy from St. Pius X HS in Magherafelt

Gwen Brennan and Patricia Davies from Presentation Secondary School in Dublin

It was a pleasure working with and sharing this amazing event with such inspirational, dedicated and fun Teachers. Their students and staff are very lucky to have such committed and passionate educators in their lives.

You can find all of these Teachers and much more on the Partners in Learning Network- Join for free today

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Global Forum Day 2

Needless to say, this has been a jam packed couple of days and as we get ready for this evening’s Gala Dinner where the top 18 Teachers in the world will be announced, the excitement is really starting to kick in. The last round of exhibiting went on this morning where the attendees get to make their top picks, so it’s “Teachers judging Teachers”! The official judging finished last evening and they are all locked into a room making the winning choices to be announced this evening. To give you some idea of the scale of the competition I took some time this morning and put this very quick video together in case you’re interested. (Apologies in advance for it non-cinematic qualitiesJ)

There are still plenty of activities taking place throughout the day, especially with the Innovative Schools Track. They have been beavering away in their workshop and planning their collaborative and communal activities and tasks for the coming 12 months. This morning I met with the Partners in Learning Managers from the UK, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and Denmark to plan the “Playful Learning” workshop for BETT which will take place in the Microsoft London offices on February 1st (more details for those interested to follow)

This evening the venue for the Gala Dinner will take place in the Prague Castle. We have been told that the last group to use the hall where the event is taking place was the President Obama visit, so our friends from around the world are very excited (as am I J).

There was a radio interview with David Young yesterday from the folks at ClickOnline in Dublin which will be available shortly. Along with that there was coverage from Merlin John, one of the media attendees from the UK. You can see Merlin’s article HERE

I may not be able to wrap up the event before I have to leave tomorrow, so make sure you follow my tweets @tjinbelfast and the event hashtag at #pilgf for all of the latest news J

And let’s make sure we’re all hoping for the best for David and his amazing entry. You can see a short vide HERE

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