A new partnership between Microsoft Corp., the Smithsonian Institution, and TakingITGlobal will help teachers integrate project-based learning to teach their students core curriculum content, as well as problem-solving skills and social responsibility, by having students team up with their peers around the globe to solve real-world environmental challenges. Anthony Salcito, vice president of Worldwide Public Sector Education at Microsoft, said the project—called Shout—is a solid step in helping students and teachers around the world connect to solve common problems, and in helping teachers use technology to boost students’ problem-solving skills through a project-based approach that is relevant to students’ lives. “Technology is an amazing tool to reach beyond geographic and cultural boundaries and build meaningful, collaborative partnerships,” he said. Shout’s web site launched Oct. 27, and beginning this month, teachers from around the world will find the first Shout challenge, which addresses the issue of deforestation. Each challenge will kick off with an online event for teachers and students featuring Smithsonian scientists.

Once teachers start a challenge, they’ll be able to connect with millions of other educators, access related curricula and best practices, and connect their students to others around the globe though online collaboration. “When students and teachers are connected with one another using technology, cultural and language barriers disappear, and a space can be created for deep, meaningful [online] collaboration that helps drive positive social change,” said Claudine Brown, director of education at the Smithsonian Institution. “Shout will harness the power of technology to connect the Smithsonian’s vast research and education resources with education leaders.” http://shoutlearning.org/

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Jeff Festa