SEATTLE, Sept. 14, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Randy Dorn, Washington state superintendent of public instruction, along with officials from Microsoft Corp., announced today the formal launch of the statewide OSPI-Microsoft IT Academy program. The Microsoft IT Academy will be available to staff and students in more than 700 public high schools, skills centers and tribal schools across Washington state, making the deployment the largest statewide Microsoft IT Academy Program.
The Microsoft IT Academy includes training and certification in a number of Microsoft products, such as Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and Microsoft PowerPoint, as well as advanced topics, including programming, Web development and database development.
A struggling economy and an increased demand for technology skills are changing education in Washington state. But that can lead to positive results, Dorn said.
"We're very excited about the Microsoft IT Academy," Dorn said during a presentation of the training at Ingraham High School in Seattle. "Right now, one out of every two of today's jobs requires some technology skills. That number will increase to three out of every four jobs in 10 years. We need to make sure our students are trained in areas that will get them jobs."
The state legislature provided $4 million during the 2011–2013 biennium — an investment that will provide products and services statewide valued at approximately $30 million.
The Microsoft IT Academy Program, which consists of Web-based instruction, includes access to software lab licenses, Web-based E-Learning and official Microsoft course materials. Topics range from computer basics to high-level programming, along with information and communications technology management. Through the training, students get hands-on experience with the latest Microsoft software and hundreds of E-Learning courses.
"The Microsoft IT Academy program makes education more relevant to students so they can move from learning to earning," said Sig Behrens, general manager for U.S. Education, Microsoft Corp. "Washington state schools, teachers and students are now at an advantage in keeping pace with changing technology and curriculum demands. The program also gives students equal access to the IT skills and certification they need to both prepare for advanced studies and to improve career opportunities with higher earning potential."
Access to online courses will allow participants to work at their own pace. The program also provides instructors with a flexible learning environment since lesson plans can be folded into existing curricula or can stand alone as new curricula. Once students have completed the Microsoft IT Academy training, they can become certified in their areas of study to earn industry-recognized Microsoft Office Specialist, Microsoft Technology Associate or Microsoft Certified Professional certifications. These credentials can help give students an edge in today's competitive job market.
Benefits to schools participating in the Microsoft IT Academy include access to many programs, including the following:
- IT Academy Members' website.
- E-Learning curriculum, with more than 1,500 online, multimedia courses to choose from, including games, simulations and videos to provide students with a hands-on learning experience.
- E-Learning course management tool for teachers to manage their students' E-Learning courses, send class communication and monitor student performance.
- Microsoft Digital Literacy curriculum for students who are new to computing skills.
- Lab licenses, providing as many as 50 Microsoft Office lab licenses (2007 or 2010) for lab usage per Microsoft IT Academy.
- Live@EDU/Office 365 Education, a program offering free access to Microsoft hosted Exchange email, 25 GBs of cloud storage and online Microsoft Office Web Applications.
- Microsoft E-Reference Library, a searchable library of more than 120 Microsoft Press books. Each school will receive five subscriptions.
- MSDN Academic Alliance (MSDN AA), a program providing students and teachers in STEM disciplines with access to Microsoft software developer tools and platforms under the MSDN AA license.
- EduConnect, a program in which a Microsoft employee volunteers in schools to help teachers and students learn about improving learning outcomes, careers in technology, helping stay safe online, getting excited and prepared for the future, and much more. Microsoft is creating a formal mentor program to link a Microsoft employee to each of the 703 Washington high schools, skills centers and tribal schools.
- Regional trainings for teachers and faculty.
During the 2011–2012 school year, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and Microsoft will pilot the Microsoft IT Academy at 63 schools. The program is available today to all 703 high schools, tribal schools and skill centers, and trainings throughout the state already are scheduled.
"Putting training and certification in every high school in Washington state will bridge the gap between the world of education and the world of work," Dorn said. "It will boost science, technology, engineering and math education statewide and the employability and global competitiveness of our students and future workforce.
"The Microsoft IT Academy is a game changer. It will put our state at the nation's forefront in education."
Washington is the second state in the U.S. to implement the Microsoft IT Academy program statewide. North Carolina piloted high schools in 29 counties during the 2010–2011 school year and expanded the program to the entire state in 2011–2012. Virginia's Governor also announced today it will be the third state in the nation to make the Microsoft IT Academy Program available to all public high schools statewide.
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is the primary agency charged with overseeing K–12 education in Washington state. Led by State School Superintendent Randy Dorn, OSPI works with the state's 295 school districts and nine educational service districts to administer basic education programs and implement education reform on behalf of more than one million public school students.
OSPI does not discriminate and provides equal access to its programs and services for all persons without regard to race, color, gender, religion, creed, marital status, national origin, sexual preference/orientation, age, veteran's status or the presence of any physical, sensory or mental disability.
For more information, visit the OSPI Web site at http://www.k12.wa.us.
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SOURCE Microsoft Corp.