WASHINGTON, Feb. 4, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Lowering the barrier for public school districts nationwide to make the digital transition to state-of-the-art technology, Microsoft Corp. Tuesday announced a new educational offer to increase access to — and lower the cost of — Windows-based devices for U.S. public school classrooms nationwide.
By injecting more than $1 billion in savings into the system over the course of this year, the offer helps solve issues of access and affordability in education as most K–12 schools seek to transition to more technology-enabled, data-driven academic environments. Through this program, access to unique offerings that before were only available to financial need-based institutions will now be available for all U.S. public schools. This includes hardware, collaboration software and teacher training resources. The offer includes access to the latest Windows 8.1 devices and also includes essential software and services necessary to create immersive, personalized learning environments for today's classrooms.
"Education is the most important investment we can make for our collective future," said Judson Althoff, president of Microsoft North America. "With this new Microsoft education offer, we are responding to the president's challenge to ensure all students have access to the technology devices and services they need to succeed."
Microsoft's education offer will be available immediately to all U.S. K–12 public schools and available through Microsoft original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partners Dell, Lenovo and others. The offer encompasses a variety of device offerings at significantly reduced pricing levels, as well as an array of popular software and services tailored for education, including Bing for Schools, Office 365 Education (making more than 12 million copies of Office available to students for free at qualifying institutions) and Microsoft's Partners in Learning teacher training resources. For the roughly 2,000 high-needs schools in the U.S., Microsoft will give away Microsoft IT Academy (ITA) program and training, to provide the schools and their educators, students and staff with the digital curriculum and certifications to gain fundamental technology skills and be successful in today's best jobs. Microsoft will also donate $1 million to cover certification exams for students from these schools.
While Microsoft has provided more than $750 million in programs for education, this latest offer specifically supports President Obama's ConnectED goals of connecting U.S. schools to the digital age within five years by providing cost-efficient devices and services. Specifics of the offer include the following:
- Operating system: Windows 8.1 Pro. One of the most powerful and flexible operating systems for education, Windows 8.1 Pro enables students and teachers to use education apps and Microsoft Office and to search for information across their devices and the Web, and it is optimized for touch and digital inking, critical keys to better learning outcomes.
- Communication and collaboration: Office 365 Education. Microsoft provides the tools necessary to create college and career-ready students. U.S. K–12 schools can access Office 365 online for free. And now, with Student Advantage, Office 365 Education customers can access Office 365 ProPlus, receiving all the familiar, locally installed, full Office applications for students at no additional cost.
- Teacher training and resources: Partners in Learning Network. The Partners in Learning Network provides teachers professional learning through a network of nearly 1 million educators from more than 130 countries. It offers them a forum where they can share ideas, find free lesson plans to inspire classroom learning and develop professionally. Its professional development resources span from individual trainings and demos to ensure that teachers have the skills to use their technology to pedagogically relevant training that helps teachers incorporate technology into their lessons.
- Ad-free search: Bing for Schools. Bing for Schools is an ad-free digital literacy platform aimed at helping students learn important digital skills with a connected computing device, daily lesson plans, and a safer, more private search environment. Since launch, Bing for Schools has enabled more than 8,000 donations to schools from parents, teachers, and community members through Bing Rewards, with over 40,000 downloads of digital literacy lesson plans and more than 14 million ad-free, private search queries served to children in nearly 4,000 schools.
- Student training and resources: Microsoft IT Academy. The program provides roughly 2,000 high-needs academic institutions and their educators, students and staff with digital curriculum and certification for fundamental technology skills.
- Broadband as a critical component to connected learning. Microsoft's nonprofit partner EveryoneOn is offering home Internet service for as low as $10 to the 36 million low-income families and individuals in America. Home broadband Internet access allows students to complete Internet-based homework and stay connected with teachers and classmates after school. Because about a third of Americans lack broadband at home, Microsoft and EveryoneOn are helping to bridge that gap by providing low-income families with affordable options. To learn more about EveryoneOn, go to http://www.everyoneon.org.
"Education transformation is happening now, and technology is the tool that not only will enhance the work of our educators, but also will allow a more immersive, engaging experience for our students," said Margo Day, vice president, U.S. Education, Microsoft Corp. "For more than a decade, Microsoft has helped educators and school leaders connect, collaborate and create so that students can realize their greatest potential. With this new offer, we can extend that experience to all of our U.S. schools and students."
The Microsoft Education offer will be coordinated and delivered through technology partners who serve K–12 schools. Hardware and device manufacturers such as Dell, Lenovo and others will now be able to make specially priced devices available to all U.S. public schools through this offer.
"At Dell, we are committed to providing students and teachers with comprehensive technology solutions that support their personalized learning environments and advance innovation in the classroom," said Bill Rodrigues, president, North America & Global Sales, Dell. "We share the goals of the education community and the president's ConnectED initiative and are proud to partner with Microsoft to maximize access to digital learning with affordable and efficient IT solutions."
"Lenovo's longstanding commitment to K–12 public education in the U.S. makes it an easy decision for us to join Microsoft as part of this initiative," said Jason Mooneyham, executive director, Public Sector, Lenovo. "If all of our kids are going to realize the promise of technology's contribution to their education, we have to do our part to work with their districts in choosing tools to help make access a reality."
School participation and eligibility
All U.S. public schools are eligible for this unique education offer and can contact their technology reseller or Microsoft for additional details or to access an official Letter of Eligibility. More information on the offer can also be found at http://www.microsoft.com/education/ConnectED.
About Microsoft in Education
At Microsoft, we are deeply committed to working with governments, communities, schools and educators to use the power of information technology to deliver technology, services and programs that provide anytime, anywhere learning for all. Since 2003, Microsoft has partnered with educators to impact more than 207 million students in 119 countries to date. Through TEACH.Org, Microsoft and other partners, candidates are provided free access to the online tools and resources necessary to pursue a career in teaching. For more information: http://www.microsoft.com/education.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
SOURCE Microsoft Corp.