120 countries to use indigenous learning program

One of the largest deals for Microsoft’s Partners in Learning (PiL) alliance was forged this week involving a program to engage Australia’s indigenous community.

The Marvin program received A$5000 (US$4498) from the government’s A$15 billion Australian Flexible Learning Framework to spread awareness of drug and alcohol abuse in Aboriginal communities living in the Northern Territory.

More than 120 countries will utilize the program to share its information with millions of students across the world.

The platform uses multimedia animations to distribute campaigns on health, education and drug abuse using language tailored for different indigenous cultures.

Creative director of the Northern Territory Institute for Community Engagement and Development J Easterby-Wood, who created Marvin, said the partnership has exposed the program to global audiences. “It’s great to see a locally developed indigenous engagement program achieve this level of recognition,” Easterby-Wood said.

“This alliance will enable Marvin to be used to engage communities in developing nations around the world.”

“Communities will create their own campaigns to suit their culture, [which] is a major step for communities to use ICT to take charge of their own future.”

Users design cartoons on laptops to discuss topics and enact scenarios. An algorithm incorporates character mouth animations with the user’s speech recorded by a microphone. The program won four awards this year from National ICT (Information and Communications Technology) Australia in the fields of outstanding development, implementation and future potential.

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