Classrooms across the U.S. will now be much more tech-friendly thanks to a Microsoft donation of $1 billion to help schools purchase Windows devices for less than $300. The White House and its ConnectED initiative to foster greater technology use in schools will assist in the program.
As part of Microsoft’s global YouthSpark initiative to empower students through technology, the donation will give schools discounts from the company’s long list of partners, which includes Acer, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Levovo, Panasonic and Toshiba
“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 U.S. 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.”
In addition, Microsoft exam-delivery provider Certiport Inc. is giving certification exams worth more than $5 million following students’ completion of Microsoft IT Academy training.
The Microsoft IT Academy provides a complete technology and certification training solution for schools, enabling students to learn the skills needed for today’s workforce, and is part of Microsoft’s $1 million investment in reaching the 2,000 highest-needs schools in the United States.
In an interview with CNET, Cameron Evans, the national technology officer and chief technology officer of Microsoft Education, said there is a need to bring more technology into classrooms. He pointed to recent snowstorms in West Virginia that cost students to lose a number of learning days that could have been avoided.
“You and I been so accustomed for the last 10 years to work anywhere we wanted as long as we have a phone or a computing device,” Evans said. “There are still gaps out there in terms of who has access to technology.”
“It’s a big deal,” he added.
Microsoft pointed to the success of the Miami-Dade County Public Schools system in Florida, which recently announced an aggressive technology-in-the-classroom program, on which it is working with Microsoft to accomplish.
The school district recently announced the purchase of more than 47,000 HP notebook PCs and tablets for students and teachers.
In addition, Microsoft will be offering digital transition training to 700 Miami-Dade teachers in the coming weeks with additional training for 1,000 more teachers over the summer. Across the district, more than 350,000 students can download Office 365 via the Student Advantage benefit, which allows Office 365 school customers to access Office 365 ProPlus for all its students at no additional cost.
This will support a consistent experience between classroom and home, and supports the district’s bring-your-own-device efforts. In addition, the district is providing Internet access and laptops through EveryoneOn for more than 1,000 high-needs homes and is about to begin implementing Microsoft IT Academy in select elementary, middle and high schools.
“Our No. 1 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.”