The following post is from Margo Day, vice president, U.S. Education, Microsoft Corp.
Today, President Obama is shining worthy attention on his ConnectED initiative to connect 99 percent of America’s students to the digital age within five years and to ensure the best use of existing funds to get Internet connectivity and educational technology into classrooms and into the hands of teachers trained on its advantages. Microsoft heard the President’s call on our industry to step up, and we are privileged to participate in ConnectED by making a significant commitment today.
Microsoft is stepping up to the plate with a significant offer that equates to a billion-dollar response.
Together with our Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) partners we created a new offer (opens in new tab) to all U.S. K-12 public schools. This not only has the potential to inject $1 billion in savings into the system, via the purchase of Windows-based tablets, laptops and devices, which we are providing at substantially lower pricing on devices and services through our partners Dell, Lenovo and others. But this offer is now going to be available to the entire U.S. public schools system. That means our partners will bring to market a multitude of great device offerings, at pre-priced levels, specifically for schools to choose from. Schools are going to have amazing choices to ensure their students have the best products and experiences in their classrooms.
On top of that, students will have access to top-notch services and programs to help prepare them for college and career. A recent IDC study (opens in new tab) found that modern skills such as communication, problem solving, and self-motivation mixed with the technical Microsoft Office skills like presentation, spreadsheets, and analysis are necessary to secure a job in a high growth, high wage occupation now and through 2020. With Microsoft IT Academy, which we will provide for free to the roughly 2,000 designated high-risk schools in the U.S., educators, students and staff will have access to the digital curriculum and certifications to gain fundamental technology skills and be successful in today’s best jobs. On top of that, we will also donate $1 million to cover certification exams for students from these schools.
With new competitive pricing coupled with the programs and services we’ll provide, schools can’t afford to not put these technology tools in the hands of their students. Officially available this week, the offer includes an extensive array of Microsoft software, services, and programs that will help teachers and students transition to digital environments and prepare the innovators of the future.
The offer includes:
- Windows 8.1 Pro Operating System: One of the most powerful and flexible operating systems for education, it provides the ability for students and teachers to use education apps and Microsoft Office, search for information across their device and the web, and is optimized for touch, education apps, research, productivity and digital inking, critical keys to better learning outcomes.
- Office 365 Education Communication and Collaboration Tool: Email, sites, online and offline document editing and storage, IM, and web conferencing capabilities for all you students for free. Plus 5 copies of Office for free for more than 12 million students at qualified institutions.
- Partners in Learning Network (opens in new tab) Teacher Training and Resources: Partners in Learning provides educators with a network of nearly 1 million educators from 136 countries. It offers them a forum where they can share ideas, find free lesson plans to inspire classroom learning and develop professionally.
- Bing for Schools Ad-free search: An ad-free digital literacy platform aimed at helping students learn important digital skills based on access to a connected computing device, daily common-core aligned lesson plans, and a safe, private environment where search history will not be mined for data.
- Student training and resources: Microsoft IT Academy (opens in new tab): For roughly 2,000 high-needs schools, Microsoft is providing academic institutions and their educators, students, and staff with digital curriculum and certification for fundamental technology skills.
- Affordable Broadband from EveryoneOn: A critical component to connected learning, Microsoft’s non-profit partner EveryoneOn is offering home Internet service for as low $10 to the 36 million Americans living in low-income communities.
A Long-Term Commitment to Education
No company invests as heavily as we do in youth around the world. I can’t stress enough, education is the single most important investment we can make in our future, and technology is the tool for the greatest return. Technology has the power to enhance the work of our educators and create a more immersive and engaging learning experience for students.
This is such an exciting time to be a student and a hopeful time to be a school. With this new offer, we’re arming students with the tools they need to have an impact and thrive in the unknown future. Though our OEM partners, these tools are now more affordable than ever for schools facing tight budget constraints.
To take advantage of this offer, schools should contact its Microsoft and our reseller partners for full details. For more information, visit: http://www.microsoft.com/education/ww/products/Pages/connected.aspx (opens in new tab).
And to find out more about our global commitment to creating opportunities for 300 million youth around the world over three years through partnerships and a range of new, existing and enhanced programs help students realize their greatest potential, check out our YouthSpark initiative (opens in new tab).