KUALA LUMPUR, 28 November 2019 – As Malaysian classrooms continue striving towards creating a more inclusive learning environment, Sekolah Kebangsaan Tiara Permai (SK Tiara Permai) became the first school in Malaysia to participate in the annual Microsoft Global Learning Connection (formerly known as Skype-a-Thon). Themed “Open hearts. Open Minds”, this year’s Global Learning Connection aims to open the hearts and minds of the students who have the chance to visit people and places using Skype, Teams and Flipgrid, to experience cultures from distant countries.
The 48-hour long global event resulted in classrooms and students from over 80 different countries participating and travelling a total of 29 million virtual miles (47 million km), sharing cultures, ideas and knowledge in the process. In Malaysia, SK Tiara Permai students invited Anthony Salcito, Vice President for Education at Microsoft, for a 30-minute Teams call. During the call, the students who were joined by their teachers, spoke to Anthony about Malaysian culture and their experience using technology in education. The students also prepared and cooked a local Malaysian dish, Nasi Goreng, during the call, to share more about Malaysian cuisine.
SK Tiara Permai has leveraged platforms such as Skype for virtual learning in the classroom since 2015. The primary school had previously connected with a music school in Balatonboglar, Hungary, where they introduced Malaysian traditional musical instruments to the Hungarian students and also learnt to sing one of their “Süss fel nap” (Hungarian Children’s Songs). The school has also collaborated with several other countries including India, Qatar, Australia and Brazil,
The school also uses virtual learning to aid students who are unable to attend school due to various circumstances. Puan Fadzillah Othman, a teacher at SK Tiara Permai and the lead Skype Master in Malaysia and APAC region, strove to create a more inclusive environment in his classroom by providing lessons via Skype. Her motivation came from one of her students, Isaac Jeremiah (aged 10), who was hospitalized due to a condition in his lungs that prevented him from attending his classes. By leveraging Skype, Puan Fadzillah with the help of her colleague Encik Basir, succeeded in creating a virtual learning programme for their classroom, which ensured that Isaac and any future students would not get left behind in their education for reasons that are out of their control.
Isaac, who is still dependant on virtual learning and Skype to communicate with his fellow classmates and teachers, also took part in the Global Learning Connection. Appearing alongside his mother on Skype, Isaac spoke to his classmates and Anthony about his experience using Skype and how it has helped him continue learning, despite being unable to go to school regularly.
“Our mission is to make the Global Learning Connection a global movement of students supporting other students” said Sheikh Manzoor, Public Sector Lead, Microsoft Malaysia. “One of the reasons we are so passionate about this is because we believe in empowering every school with the right tools to build a more inclusive approach towards education using virtual learning tools, so that no student is denied access to education because of their physical limitations.”
Microsoft’s Global Learning Connection also aims to instil the notion of incorporating technology in schools and removing the physical boundaries of a conventional classroom in order to give students a holistic and integrated approach across the globe. This is in line with Microsoft’s vision to allow students to broaden their horizons, giving these students the chance to explore diverse cultural experiences from around different corners of the globe.
Outside of Malaysia, the Global Learning Connection saw students from different countries and regions around the world conducting a variety of activities, from overnight sleepovers in schools, to schools that visited all seven continents, sharing thousands of songs, stories and traditions to build empathy and understanding for one another. The interactive learning experience offered by the Global Learning Connection can be continued by students and institutions throughout the year by visiting the Skype in the Classroom community to take virtual field trips, find guest speakers and to connect with thousands of other classrooms around the globe.
A dedicated Skype in the Classroom website will also be available for preview later this year, with the goal of making global connections easier and faster.
Top image: Puan Fadzillah Othman, teacher at SK Tiara Permai and lead Skype Master for Malaysia and APAC region (4th from left), with Isaac Jeremiah, aged 10, and Anthony Salcito, Vice President for Education at Microsoft (center, on screen) with students from SK Tiara Permai during the Microsoft Global Learning Connection held in Kuala Lumpur.