At Microsoft, our mission for education is to empower students to achieve more. To do this, we partner with organisations around the country and the world, to create immersive and inclusive experiences that inspire enduring learning, develop essential life skills and ignite student’s passion to change the world we live in.
Today, I am thrilled to reveal that Microsoft Australia is partnering with the Victorian Department of Education and Training (DET) to help encourage Victorian school students to solve problems using creativity and code through the Victorian Schools’ App and Game Challenge.
The shared belief that students need a strong foundation in computer coding skills to succeed in the future, regardless of their plans after high school, was the inspiration behind this partnership. I couldn’t be more excited to see this initiative come to fruition.
Albert Einstein once said, “Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world,” and this challenge hopes to instil students with this mantra. To never stop imagining, never stop trying to solve problems, and remember that anything is possible.
At its core, the challenge provides Victorian students in Years 6, 8 and 10 with the opportunity to be entrepreneurial and create a ‘prototype’ application or game – applying principles of computational thinking, product design and coding – to solve an authentic real-world issue such as climate change, world hunger or poverty.
Taking place during Term 3 2016, the challenge will see students across the state use free online app development and game creation tools and tutorials such as Touch Develop, Unity, Visual Studio and Minecraft in Education. Students will then need to submit their idea and prototype of an app or game, including supporting videos, storyboards, concepts and images.
At the same time, the partnership will provide teachers with professional development programs and free online modules to develop their skills and confidence to run student workshops such as the Hour of Code. Designing curriculum content that incorporates the Digital Technologies Curriculum and Critical and Creative Thinking Curriculum.
Visiting Microsoft’s Redmond Campus in Seattle, Victoria’s State Premier, the Honourable Daniel Andrews MP announced his government will provide the administrative support through the DET. This will include the submission tool for entries, access to Microsoft resources, professional learning support for teachers as well as looking to engage with parents – showing them the true value coding and gaming can bring to their child’s learning.
(Mary Snapp, Corporate VP, Microsoft Philanthropies & Victoria’s State Premier, the Honourable Daniel Andrews MP)
From now until Melbourne Games Week (October 31 – November 6 2016), we will have the task of sifting through prototypes to select a winner. It won’t be easy, but I can’t wait to see what ideas these students come up with. What’s even more exciting is that the winning entry will be brought to life by one of our industry partners and shared with the rest of the world!
Inspiring creativity and promoting a philosophy where anything is possible is key to Australia’s long term success, and a critical part of this will be how we teach Australia’s next generation of innovators.
Highly developed technology skills will be key to developing successful careers in future industries. That is why, the Victorian Government is willing to support this development by investing in opportunities that develop the coding and design skills of Victorian youth.
Think you’re up for the Victorian Schools’ App and Game Challenge?