I’ve talked a lot about the value of Live@edu in higher education on this blog, and that’s not to say there’s isn’t demand in the K-12 space…in fact, we are seeing huge spikes of interest from school districts and Ministries of Education around the world.  The Kentucky Department of Education just announced they are moving the entire commonwealth of students, teachers and staff…more than 700,000 people…to Live@edu that will help them save more than $6.3 million over the next four years. It is the biggest deployment in the U.S. and one of the fastest migrations ever, moving more than half a million people over a single weekend. Check out their video story here.

I think the cloud still has mythical properties and qualities that not everyone understands, but fundamentally it's about sharing computer resources and capacity to enable new experiences, simplified access to technology, and lower costs.  Microsoft has a broad and comprehensive approach to the cloud, and we really recognize the value of both connecting cloud experiences and services to existing products, but also ensuring there's an overall environment schools can manage and control so they have the flexibility, robust enterprise features and security and compliance capabilities.

Live@edu allows schools to get out of the email business and adds even more value with collaboration tools so that schools can focus on what they need to do to manage the school effectively, to create an environment for learning that can even extend beyond the classroom, and extend services to students and teachers at scale for free. 

Probably one of the most popular features of Live@edu is SkyDrive, which provides 25 gigabytes of storage (sort of a USB stick in the cloud), and schools and teachers love this because they can store their homework, documents, and projects. They can share documents with other people, create folders and assign permissions to their project teams, etc.  It not only provides rich collaboration, but really storage on any device, so you don't have to worry about having the right folders on the right device, you can have a virtual, cloud-based storage environment with SkyDrive. 

We’ve also just made publicly available the final versions of the Office Web Apps on SkyDrive in the US, UK, Canada and Ireland. These free versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote really extend the environment to provide not only rich messaging, collaboration, and storage, but the ability to create and edit Office documents within a Web browser without having to have Office installed locally.  

As with any new technology, you just can’t throw it over the fence to users with confidence it will stick and they will know how to use it. You can see some of Kentucky’s training videos online here and we have more on our new K-12 website here.

Hoover City Schools in Alabama is also another good case study. I talked to Keith Price, CTO for Hoover City Schools, about their Live@edu deployment and how they involved their instructional technology folks and curriculum team in the professional development trainings for Live@edu so they are really using the product to its fullest potential. You can watch our conversation here.

We have exciting innovations coming in the future for Live@edu and always welcome and encourage your feedback on what we can add to the product to increase the value for education.