The US government's ConnectED initiative aims to bring affordable technology to student across America, and today Microsoft is offering its support to the program. Working with partners such as Lenovo and Dell, the company will offer reduced-price Windows computers and tablets to every school in the US public school system. Students and educators will also be granted free access to a digital curriculum to help ensure that basic technological skills are in place.
But it does not end there. Microsoft is also donating a total of $1 million to help fund certification examinations. The offer was announce by vice president of US Education at Microsoft, Margo Day, who said:
"With new competitive pricing coupled with the programs and services we'll provide, schools can’t afford to not put these technology tools in the hands of their students. Officially available this week, the offer includes an extensive array of Microsoft software, services, and programs that will help teachers and students transition to digital environments and prepare the innovators of the future."
The offer is being made officially available this week, and it is multi-faceted. Heavily discounted copies of Windows 8.1 Pro will enable students to take advantage of the latest breed of touchscreen devices, and Office 365 is available completely free of charge. Day goes on to say:
"No company invests as heavily as we do in youth around the world. I can’t stress enough, education is the single most important investment we can make in our future, and technology is the tool for the greatest return. Technology has the power to enhance the work of our educators and create a more immersive and engaging learning experience for students."
The offer places technology in the hands of all students, including those who would not otherwise be able to afford. Schools that are interested in taking advantage of the available offers are invited to get in touch with Microsoft through the ConnectED website -- and there is a lot to benefit from:
- Windows 8.1 Pro Operating System: One of the most powerful and flexible operating systems for education, it provides the ability for students and teachers to use education apps and Microsoft Office, search for information across their device and the web, and is optimized for touch, education apps, research, productivity and digital inking, critical keys to better learning outcomes.
- Office 365 Education Communication and Collaboration Tool: Email, sites, online and offline document editing and storage, IM, and web conferencing capabilities for all you students for free. Plus 5 copies of Office for free for more than 12 million students at qualified institutions.
- Partners in Learning Network Teacher Training and Resources: Partners in Learning provides educators with a network of nearly 1 million educators from 136 countries. It offers them a forum where they can share ideas, find free lesson plans to inspire classroom learning and develop professionally.
- Bing for Schools Ad-free search: An ad-free digital literacy platform aimed at helping students learn important digital skills based on access to a connected computing device, daily common-core aligned lesson plans, and a safe, private environment where search history will not be mined for data.
- Student training and resources: Microsoft IT Academy: For roughly 2,000 high-needs schools, Microsoft is providing academic institutions and their educators, students, and staff with digital curriculum and certification for fundamental technology skills.
- Affordable Broadband from EveryoneOn: A critical component to connected learning, Microsoft’s non-profit partner EveryoneOn is offering home Internet service for as low $10 to the 36 million Americans living in low-income communities.