We’re writing this from CapeTown, South Africa, from the 6th Annual Microsoft Innovative Education Forum. It’s the first day of the event, and we’re here with our Innovative Teachers Simon Horleston and Jan Webb, as well as Innovative Schools Calderglen High School (Scotland) and Huyton Arts and Sports Centre for Learning (England). If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ve heard us talk about this event and these fantastic educators many, many times.

This morning we listened to perhaps the two most inspirational Microsoft presenters I’ve heard in my many years at the company. Mteto Nyati, managing director of our South African subsidiary of Microsoft welcomed us to this spectacular country, and spoke from the heart about his upbringing “on the wrong side of the line” and how education has gotten him to where he is today.

Next, our worldwide vice president of education, Anthony Salcito, provided the opening keynote. He announced a new global collaboration between Microsoft Partners in Learning, the Smithsonian Institute in the United States, and Taking IT Global. (If you’ve been reading the blog, you’ll remember that the founder of Taking IT Global is speaking at our Innovative Education Forum in Manchester on 29-30 November.)

Shout - Logo FinalThe partnership is called Shout and was inspired by one of our keynotes from last year’s Innovative Education Forum in Brazil. Last year we heard from Jean-Francois Rischard, author of the book High Noon: 20 Global Problems and 20 Years to Solve them. In his keynote, Rischard spoke about the 20 problems facing the world and how no one country can solve them alone.

Teachers and schools in Australia were inspired by this, and began working with Microsoft and Taking IT Global on a project around deforestation. That project has turned into the Shout network (www.shoutlearning.org), where teachers and students from around the world can collaborate on environmental problems  -  and impact real research being conducted by Smithsonian scientists.

Every month there will be webcasts, curriculum materials and a new challenge on the Shout community. The first challenge is around deforestation, and students in South African schools are already measuring the circumference of trees near them and adding data to a global repository accessible by researchers at the Smithsonian institute.

One of the head teachers from Australia who began this project speaks about it as “connecting peers with a purpose” around an activity and then watching the work and collaboration take on a life of its own.

I’m not doing this exciting project justice, so I recommend that you go to the Shout website www.shoutlearning.org and check it out for yourself. You can also follow Shout on Twitter @shoutlearning.org

If you like what you see and want to learn more, come to our Innovative Education Forum on the 30th November in Manchester, where Michael Furdyk and Mandeep Atwal of Taking IT Global will be giving a keynote and interactive workshop on Taking IT Global and Shout. (For more information or to register for the forum, go to the Partners in Learning Network at http://uk.partnersinlearningnetwork.com)

We’ll have more from South Africa as the week continues. Stay tuned!