Microsoft launched Office 365 for Education at the 2012 ISTE conference in San Diego, a cloud-based productivity and collaboration platform. The education edition is identical to the commercial version, but is offered free for institutions from elementary schools to universities. Teachers, students, and administrators can transition from Microsoft’s other educational venture, Live@edu to Office 365 where they will have access to the company’s popular programs such as the Office apps Word, Powerpoint and Excel.
Microsoft is responding here to Google’s suite of online programs like Google Docs and the recently-released Google Drive. During my interview with teacher James Puliatte in a previous article, he told me that his school was due to become a “Google school,” embracing Gmail and Google apps in order to promote sharing and collaboration between students, teachers, and administrators. According to an article in The Journal, Microsoft is hoping to win over customers with this release, and highlighted some early adopters in higher education at ISTE.
- Gonzaga University will apparently use Office 365 to support its online study body, which accounts for about 20 percent of the university’s entire population.
- Dartmouth will move about 10,000 members of the faculty, staff, and student body to the service.
- Cornell University released a statement that praised Office 365’s cloud-based services and security features.
- Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools will actually depart Google Apps for Education in favor of Office 365, moving nearly 80,000 students and 9,500 staff members to the service.
- Fresno Unified School District will also adopt the service, pointing out that nearly one-third of students currently use Microsoft Office for class projects and presentations.
Cloud-based productivity is becoming increasingly popular these days as mobile devices become more and more prevalent and the importance of having content shared between them grows. What teacher wants to keep plugging in USB drives all day to get lesson plans and learning material between computers? As the number of devices used in modern classrooms grows, the importance of embracing the cloud becomes much more apparent.