Microsoft surges into the education cloud: 200,000 Catholic Schools moving to Office 365
Microsoft announced an agreement with the Catholic International Education Office (OIEC) to deliver Office 365 to more than 4.5 million students in 200,000 Catholic schools around the world. With the first wave of deployments set to begin this summer, the free tool offered by Microsoft to students and faculty will allow schools to work together on class projects and documents simultaneously powered by SharePoint, communicate via instant message or voice and video calls with Lync, and allow teachers and faculty to hold video conferences over the web.
Microsoft’s Office 365 bringing Catholic Schools into the 21st Century
Microsoft has hopes that the deal will have the potential to reach somewhere near 43 million students in the long run, as the OIEC is committed to delivering cloud technology to their students at an increasing rate. And considering most kids are already in “the cloud” with iPhones and iPads becoming a regular in the hallways of many schools, the OIEC recognizes that they need to be implementing those technologies in their classrooms.
"In alliance with Microsoft, we are entering a new era in global Catholic education," said F. Angel Astorgano, general secretary, OIEC. "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."
I know that quote seems a bit ironic coming from a school system that is often publicly perceived as archaic and antiquated because of their strict dress codes, 500 year old traditions, and lack of faith in the entire notion of evolution, but give the OIEC credit for wanting to give their students what they’ll need to be competitive in the real world once they move into the work force. Personally, when I think of technology in the Catholic high schools, I still flashback to the last time I was in one (1997) and it still had the push-button light switches from the 30s on the wall.
Catholics Schools going social with Partners in Learning
The agreement between Microsoft and the OIEC also paves the way for the introduction of an online social network designed by Microsoft on Azure as a private element of the Partners in Learning Network that will allow increased communication and networking within the Catholic school system. The Partners in Learning program is a 4 million member networking community that connects school teachers and leaders online through Microsoft.
"An innovative and forward-thinking Catholic organization is supporting the modernization of their schools, working with Microsoft and mutual partner Tralcom to deliver technology solutions to Catholic students and educators around the world," said Anthony Salcito, vice president of Worldwide Education at Microsoft. "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."
Office 365 for Education July 1st release
This agreement is a huge boost of confidence moving forward for the Office 365 for Education SKUs set to release July 1st, and should serve as an example to other school systems that Office 365 is now ready to compete for the attention of IT departments focused on delivering cloud technology to their districts who may have been leaning towards Google to fit their needs. At a price point of $0 for the most common SKUs, it’ll be hard for schools to not want to stay with the brand and tools they’ve been using since the 90s.
En Pointe Technologies can put your school into the Microsoft Cloud
En Pointe has seen a sharp increase in the number of conversations with large universities and public school systems around the implementation of Office 365 since the recent announcement of the July 1st release of the education SKUs, and many schools are beyond the point of evaluation and are now focusing on migration questions and seeking the advice of partners that have already deployed Office 365 for their customers. With most schools ending their fiscal year at the end of June/July, you can expect that news like this will become regularity on major Tech Blogs.
For more information about Office365 with En Pointe please visit our Office 365 page or email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to follow us on Twitter @EnPointeTech and “Like” our Facebook Fan Page for news and updates across the technology industry.
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