Hot news over on the Microsoft News Centre, that the Catholic International Education Office (OIEC) has entered into an education alliance with Microsoft to provide Office 365 for education for its community of Catholic schools across the world as part of a new Social Network for Catholic Education.

Cardinal Zenon Grosholewski at Office 365 for Education agreement signing at The VaticanIn a signing ceremony at The Vatican yesterday, Cardinal Zenon Grosholewski, Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, spoke about the opportunity it will enable for the first 4.5m students as part of a three-year alliance plan, which will eventually scale across OIEC’s community of more than 43 million Catholic students at 210,000 schools in 102 countries. The new network will provide innovative software, services, training and access to technologies that will better prepare students for the jobs of the future.

OIEC’s mission includes the promotion of education for all, collaboration within academic communities and the fight against illiteracy worldwide. In an ever-evolving technology landscape, teachers in the 21st century face continuing challenges to build skills among teachers and provide students with the tools and knowledge they need to be successful.  According to Father Angel Astorgano, general secretary, OIEC:

  In alliance with Microsoft, we are entering a new era in global Catholic education. We will offer the most advanced technology, knowledge and skills to our schools so our next generation of graduates is prepared for the new challenges of the 21st century  

In a competitive employment landscape, graduates who have developed technology skills are frequently provided with more opportunities. However, many schools around the globe are not able to evolve curriculum quickly enough to keep pace. Worldwide many schools simply do not have access to the technologies and training necessary to prepare students for the modern workforce.

As Anthony Salcito, Microsoft’s vice president of Worldwide Education said yesterday:

  An innovative and forward-thinking Catholic organisation is supporting the modernisation of their schools, working with Microsoft and mutual partner Tralcom to deliver technology solutions to Catholic students and educators around the world. We are excited about delivering on the technology needs of these students and supporting a global community of individuals with shared values, and helping to ensure they are well-equipped for the jobs of tomorrow.  

Access is everything

According to an IDC study, more than half of today’s jobs require some technology skills, and that number will increase to 90% by 2015. Using workplace technology in a school environment gives students a head start when beginning their careers, whereas students with no access to technology will be at a disadvantage.

Office 365 for education offers powerful collaboration tools, including SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, Lync Online and Office Web Apps, in the cloud, whilst helping to save time and money. With Office 365 for education, OIEC students and teachers will be able to do the following:

  • Communicate using instant messaging and videoconferencing, taking part in virtual classes and transforming any conversation to include high-resolution video, application and desktop sharing

  • Collaborate across the globe by creating class and group sites, which allow users to view availability of others and work together on projects in real time, allowing creation of an online network for Catholic education and all OIEC schools

  • View, edit, and share Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote files online with SharePoint Online and Office Web Apps, working together on projects and assignments

  • Share calendars and access mail and calendars across devices with robust security and reliability

  • Create and maintain compelling websites and edit them as easily as they would a Word document

What else is in the Education Alliance agreement?

Through the Microsoft Education Alliance agreement, OIEC will provide access to technology and training to students and teachers, as well as establish an online space for collaboration, communication and information sharing. The agreement adds the following key elements:

  • Curriculum and training to develop digital literacy skills, help integrate technology into teaching and learning, and provide blueprints for innovative schooling

  • Access to research findings and tools that measure and promote innovative education practices

Learn MoreFind out more about the Microsoft/OIEC agreement

Find out more about the Office 365 for education pricing changes