Skypeathon montage

Head of education at Microsoft goes the extra mile to Skype classroom in Wales

The head of education at Microsoft has talked to a class of schoolchildren in Wales from his office in the US as part of an event aimed at connecting people across the world via Skype.

Anthony Salcito, Vice-President of Worldwide Education at the company, spoke to youngsters at Ysgol Bae Baglan, in Port Talbot, during this week’s annual Skype-a-Thon.

The two-day event used Skype in the Classroom to try to travel 23.6 million virtual miles and connect youngsters from more than 90 countries via video calls, or help them go on virtual field trips. Nearly half a million students, teachers and guest experts took part.

As well as Salcito’s call, Ysgol Bae Baglan spoke to Chris Perkins, General Manager of Public Sector at Microsoft UK, about employment in the technology sector. The pupils also went on a virtual trip to a zoo and took part in a football quiz.

Pupils at Danesfield School, in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, received a Skype call from Chris Rothwell, Director of Education at Microsoft UK. They also held a “mystery Skype” with Ysgol Treganna in Cardiff, and learnt about fire safety from a school in Arkansas, US.

Rothwell said: “I was really excited to take part in Skypeathon 2018 and Skype into classrooms around the country. Skype-a-Thon allows thousands of students and teachers across the world to connect and collaborate with each other and guest speakers to learn more about other cultures, perspectives and values.

“Opportunities like this allow young people to become more engaged global citizens and grow their understanding of the world. I can’t wait to hear about and see all the stories and connections that are formed as a result of this experience from classrooms around the UK.

Other Microsoft staff to take part this year included Peggy Johnson, Executive Vice-President of Business Development, and Joe Belfiore, Vice-President of Windows 10.

The company said that for every 400 virtual miles travelled during the Skype-a-Thon, it will support education resources for a child in need via WE. Across their nine WE Villages around the world, WE will help Skype-a-Thon participants make an impact toward the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal of quality education.

During last year’s Skype-a-Thon, thousands of educators travelled more than 14.5 million virtual miles. They shared projects and school activities with other classrooms, took virtual field trips to museums, zoos and businesses, and sang and danced to share cultural traditions.

In 2016, BAFTA-winning actor Michael Sheen, who was born in Newport, sent and received video messages with pupils at Ysgol Bae Baglan for the Skype-a-Thon.