Today, I’m excited to announce the launch Office 356 for education. It’s here, it’s powerful, and it’s free for schools! Prestigious universities like Cornell University, Dartmouth College and Gonzaga University, and top K-12 school districts in Fresno, San Diego, and Nashville are moving to Office 365 for education. Tennessee’s Department of Education is even setting up the service for all 137 districts and 1,677 schools across the state to opt-in to.
Now educators can use the best productivity tools they know to better engage students in learning. And teachers and students can author, collaborate and share in real-time with instant messaging, voice over IP, email, calendaring, and video across multiple devices (including non-Windows operating systems). This is something that Google and other providers cannot offer. Office 365 for education is a cloud-based suite that includes Microsoft Office Web Apps, Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and Lync Online.
Enterprise capabilities at no cost. The fact that we are offering education customers — for free — a service that commercial customers pay for reinforces our commitment to schools, teachers and kids. The service levels are the same –education customer accounts will be managed side by side in the same datacenters with the same protections as customers from industries like banking and manufacturing. They will get the same uptime performance, redundancy and reliability enjoyed by all commercial customers. Schools and parents alike will have peace of mind knowing students’ content and personal data are protected and won’t be scanned for advertising purposes, thanks to a rich set of privacy, security and protection capabilities that adhere to federal laws.
Kurt Madden, the CIO of Fresno Unified School District, said it best when he noted that his district “wanted a platform that was more secure, that wasn’t used for advertising. We wanted a cloud that is our own, and not Google’s. Office 365 is the perfect solution.”
“After extensive research, we chose Office 365 for education because it allows us to leverage the benefits of cloud-based services while readily meeting our security and accessibility requirements for email and calendar support. The shift to the cloud allows us to focus more directly on our core missions related to education, research and outreach,” said Ted Dodds, chief information officer, Cornell University.
No more pain or inconsistency. For years we have heard so many customers complain about how Google Docs would convert and drop Microsoft Word and Excel formatting. Students and teachers suffered through this because they wanted real-time collaboration on a free platform. Now, with Office Web Apps, documents can be shared online without losing formatting, saving tons of time. Read more here.
Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools is moving its 80,000 students off Google Apps and onto Office 365, as well as its 10,000 teachers and staff. “It’s important we have a consistent toolset across the district so people can work together effectively. With Office 365, everything from the features and functions in the applications to the consistency of the toolbars despite where or how they’re accessed helps improve both teacher and student productivity,” said John Williams, executive director of Nashville’s Technology and Information Services. “This consistency, combined with the collaboration capabilities of Office 365, will be essential in supporting the blended learning environment we’re striving for across our district.”
Prepare students for the workforce. We all know the importance of 21st century skills. Office 365 enables anytime, anywhere learning experiences and real-time collaboration, teaching students critical software skills necessary for future job success. With Microsoft Office noted as the leading productivity software used by businesses worldwide. Just do a job search to see how many jobs require writing skills using Word, analytical skills using Excel, and presentation skills using PowerPoint. Learning these skills early can provide a leg up.
Schools have already started to roll out Office 365, and I’m excited to share that the following schools are also moving to Office 365 for education.
• Dartmouth College. The move to Office 365 will help provide secure and reliable communications for more than 10,000 students, faculty and staff on campus and across departments. After the conversion is complete, collaboration on learning and research projects across campus will be easier with everyone using the same tools, and students will also benefit from using the same technology they will be required to use in the business world.
• Cornell University. Cornell will begin onboarding 7,000 faculty and staff to Office 365 in fall 2012, taking advantage of the cloud-based email and calendar support. In the future, the university plans to roll out SharePoint Online and Office Web Apps and give students the option to use Office 365.
• Fresno Unified School District. Utilizing Exchange Online, the district’s email will operate in the cloud for the district’s 74,000 students and 12,000 faculty and staff. Protected by Microsoft’s built-in antivirus and anti-spam filters, Fresno Unified School District expects to save $50,000 to $100,000 per year in costs. Nearly one-third of students currently utilize Microsoft Office and SharePoint to create documents and presentations and collaborate on class projects, which is expected to increase three-fold with the move to Office 365 when students will be able to access school portals at home.
• Gonzaga University. Using SharePoint Online and Lync Online will allow Gonzaga to maintain its leadership in the online learning space and provide its distant learning population (which composes nearly 20 percent of its total students) with seamless access to an online resources portal and anytime collaboration tools. Office 365 will support 8,000 students and 1,200 faculty and staff.
• Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools. Eighty thousand students will switch from Google to the Microsoft solution while 9,500 faculty and staff will move to the cloud from on-premises solutions, saving the district $400,000 annually in IT services costs.
• Tennessee Department of Education. Office 365 will allow the department to offer a single platform to its 136 districts and 1,677 schools across the state, increasing opportunities for collaboration and tapping into an enormous amount of teacher potential both outside and inside the classroom that was not there before.
Office 365 for education is available today! Go to www.office365.com/education to sign up!