Microsoft is to increase access to its Windows-based devices and provide other educational offers to K-12 public schools in the US.
By injecting more than US$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 public schools seek to transition to more technology-enabled, data-driven academic environments.
“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 US K–12 public schools and available through Microsoft original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and hardware partners including Dell and Lenovo. As part of the offer, Microsoft will reduce the price of various devices, as well as popular education software and services.
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. Schools can also access Office 365 ProPlus through the Student Advantage programme
- Teacher training and resources via Microsoft’s 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. Microsoft’s nonprofit partner EveryoneOn is offering home Internet service for as low as US$10 to the 36 million low-income families and individuals in the US.
“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 of US Education at Microsoft. “For more than a decade, Microsoft has helped educators and school leaders connect, collaborate and create so that students can realise their greatest potential. With this new offer, we can extend that experience to all of our US schools and students.”
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