Education Insights

Education news, trends, and highlights by Anthony Salcito, Vice President, Worldwide Education, Microsoft

June, 2012

  • Education Insights

    Office 365 for education – a game changer for teaching and learning


    The cloud and online learning are key trends and opportunities to transform education today. And with today’s launch and availability of Office 365 for education, schools now have a holistic collaboration platform that will change the game. As schools face ever-tightening budgets and the pressure to innovate, Microsoft is offering enterprise quality technology for free that will modernize teaching practices and help prepare students for the jobs of tomorrow.

    Office 365 for education builds off of the great platform we've established with Live@edu and is the next evolution to provide a better experience for communication, collaboration, and productivity tools for education institutions of all types…while saving costs and delivering a great connected experience for students and educators. With Office 365, schools get Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Lync Online and Office Web Apps at no cost. You can sign up today at

    Announced as part of the one-year anniversary of Office 365, prestigious K-12 and higher education institutions around the world are moving to Office 365 for education. Our cloud suite was chosen by the Scottish Government to supply Office 365 for education as the integrated productivity suite for the future of the renowned Glow Platform - representing upwards of 1.2 million students and teachers across the country. In Qatar, all 93,000 students and 15,000 teachers will have access to Office 365 at their fingertips. There are many schools across Europe moving to Office 365, including the University of Dundee that is moving off Novell GroupWise to expand communication capabilities on campus. These schools join other large academic institutional and countrywide commitments to Office 365 such as the India Council for Technical Education with 7.5 million users and the Catholic International Education Office with over 4.5 million users across 102 countries.

    Students must be more than consumers. They need to be creators. They need to know how to communicate and collaborate with others. Office 365 is the best productivity experience that’s used all over the world and that companies are demanding expertise in. And there is no compromise for going to the cloud with Microsoft. The experience and features that you expect on the desktop and offline are also there in the cloud. Schools can connect all devices to the cloud, and every student and teacher regardless of location, to realize the potential of online learning.

    Teachers can create curriculum, record lectures and publish them on online class sites in the cloud where students are able to view, open, produce, edit and share their homework. Office 365 provides new ways to extend classroom teaching time and distance learning, tutor students online, and whiteboard ideas. Students can engage in ad hoc instant messaging or video chats to collaborate on class projects in real-time, regardless of where they’re working or on what device. They can create documents with Office Web Apps that provides the same features as the desktop version of Microsoft Office, share class notes by synchronizing OneNote notebooks, and create digital portfolios.

    What I’m most excited about is Lync Online which will enable teachers to create purposeful, personalized and fun learning experiences. The University of Massachusetts Amherst and the National University of Ireland, Galway are using Office 365 to create virtual teams and prepare students to be more effective in the business world than other graduates. They are immersed the very first day of class in the cloud. Take a look at the video below.

    With Office 365, learning possibilities are limitless. And I can’t wait to hear how it’s helping to increase students’ success in your school.

  • Education Insights

    Microsoft and Dell empower students with accessible technology and training


    Early in my career at Microsoft, I was inspired to see how accessible technology empowered and enriched the lives of individuals with disabilities and enabled new opportunities to learn and communicate. These experiences fueled my passion to ensure that all students have the right technology in place to help them learn. Educators understand the importance of supporting students with special needs, yet the process of selecting and using accessible technology can be complex.

    Today, Microsoft and Dell are announcing a new collaborative effort to make it easier for schools to empower students and teachers with accessible technology and training. Dell’s Assistive Technology Service—created by special education teachers and accessibility specialists—simplifies the process of selecting accessible devices and assistive technology products. Through this Service, schools receive support and training including Microsoft’s accessibility guides and curriculum resources that illustrate how to use accessibility features in Microsoft products, like Windows and Office, in order to enhance learning and create accessible teaching materials like digital talking textbooks.

    Dell and Microsoft share the belief that accessible technology provides educational opportunities for students with disabilities and learning-styles differences. At Microsoft, we actively listen and learn from our customers to identify best practices of accessibility in schools and report recommendations for providing accessible technology. Dell’s Assistive Technology Service adopts these recommendations so educators can focus on instructional practices that empower learners with disabilities, and not on the administrative tasks of deploying technology.

    When educators have more time to focus on instruction, teachers have opportunities to develop intriguing ways to use technology in the classroom. I’m inspired by the ways educators are using technology to make lessons come to life. Many schools are using Kinect in the classroom to encourage students with disabilities to engage with curricula using physical gestures and their voice. Lagoa Secondary School in Portugal noticed that the use of Kinect classroom activities can boost subject matter proficiency, promote class cohesion, and strengthen social skills among students of varying abilities and disabilities. Teachers from Loudoun County, Virginia are sharing their advice on using Kinect in special education classrooms.

    In Washington state, a school for students who are blind uses Microsoft Lync―part of Office 365―for distance learning. Office 365 for education―a free tool for educators and students worldwide―empowers educators and students to work together on classroom projects and documents simultaneously, collaborating in real time with virtual meetings, and participating in instant messaging and video conferencing across the globe. To help keep students safe as they learn online, we promote a safer online experience for students by providing online safety resources as part of Dell’s Assistive Technology Service

    Together with Partners in Learning and Dell’s Assistive Technology Service, Microsoft is dedicated to providing creative accessibility solutions for education so every student can realize their potential.

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