Microsoft and its hardware partners have released a range of low-cost, Windows-based devices for K-12 schools in the US, as they seek to transition to more technology-enabled, data-driven academic environments.
Part of Microsoft’s global YouthSpark initiative to empower youth through technology, the scheme will enable teachers and students to access a range of devices, training and services. By injecting more than US$1 billion in savings into the system over the course of this year, Microsoft’s education offer helps solve issues of access and affordability for the 2,000 highest needs schools in the US.
Working with Acer, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Lenovo, Panasonic and Toshiba, the company will supply a range of common core testing-compliant devices – including tablets and laptops – running the Windows 8.1 operating system.
Available device options include the Acer Travelmate TMB113-E, Asus Transformer Book T100, Dell Venue 11 Pro and a Fujitsu Stylistic Q704. The offer also covers HP 210 Notebook PC, HP ElitePad 1000, Lenovo ThinkPad 11e, Toshiba Satellite NB15t, and a new student device from Panasonic that is scheduled to launch at ISTE 2014.
“To move students into the future, they need the skills and resources that can bring learning to life and prepare them for the workforce,” said Margo Day, vice president of US Education at Microsoft. “Through Microsoft’s commitment, we are helping bridge the technology skills gap that exists among many students today by providing tools and learning resources that give all students a world-class education and help teachers better use technology in the classroom. Working with our partners to lower costs and provide affordable devices is just one step in the process.”
In addition, Microsoft exam delivery provider Certiport will supply certification exams worth over US$5 million after students complete Microsoft IT Academy training. The Microsoft IT Academy provides a complete technology and certification training solution for schools, enabling students to learn workplace skills
While Microsoft has provided more than US$750 million in programmes for education, this offer supports President Obama’s ConnectED initiative, which aims to ensure all US schools have access to digital technology within the next five years. Participating schools will be able to access:
•Education apps and Microsoft Office though the Windows 8.1 Pro operating system
•Free online Office 365 software to enhance communication and collaboration between staff and students
•Teacher training and resources via the Microsoft Educator Network, formerly Partners in Learning Network
•Bing for Schools, an ad-free digital literacy platform aimed at helping students learn important digital skills
•Fundamental technology skills, student training and resources via Microsoft IT Academy. Microsoft will also donate US$1 million to cover certification exams for students from around 2,000 high-needs schools
•Broadband as a critical component to connected learning through Microsoft’s nonprofit partner EveryoneOn.
Many schools have already benefited from the low-cost devices and educational training offer including the Miami-Dade County Public Schools district.
The district has established a 1:1 device programme after purchasing more than 47,000 HP notebook PCs and tablets for students and teachers. In addition, the district is providing internet access and laptops through EveryoneOn for more than 1,000 high-need homes and plans to implement Microsoft IT Academy in select elementary, middle and high schools
Across the district, over 350,000 students can download Office 365 via the Student Advantage benefit, while Microsoft will provide digital transition training to 700 teachers in the coming weeks with additional training for 1,000 more teachers over the summer.
“Our number one priority is to help students graduate from high school, well-prepared to succeed in college or the career of their choosing. That is no simple undertaking with more than 350,000 students,” said Alberto Carvahlo, superintendent, Miami-Dade County Public Schools. “Through our work with Microsoft, we’re providing the technology, services and training support our teachers and students need to gain the skills that will ultimately help accomplish our goal, but on top of that, Microsoft IT Academy will give students the certifications that will help get them the jobs of their dreams.”
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