The Ministry of Education has signed a new three year agreement with Microsoft in order to provide Kiwi school students with the latest computer software.
The agreement means that students and teachers can get the latest Office software for their own devices at no cost, if their school uses Office 365. It also comes with a guarantee from Microsoft that student data will be used to improve education, and not be for commercial purposes.
Through to the agreement, schools get a choice of cloud-delivered or traditional on-premise Microsoft software, and new tools to manage the increasing fleet of mobile devices in schools. These tools can aid with managing mobile computing, identity, and BYOD programmes - which support ‘anywhere-anytime’ learning, Microsoft says.
The agreement covers 2,500 schools and 85,000 members of staff and will help to deliver modern teaching and learning environments for more than 766,000 students nationwide.
Evan Blackman, Microsoft NZ education sector director, says the agreement has been refocused to reflect the fast changing technology environment. It will support schools’ moves into cloud-computing with a software-as-a-service model.
“This new approach has clear long term benefits for schools as it will enable them to move quickly towards a cloud-based model of IT infrastructure. This will free up staff time and budget to redirect back into the classroom,” he says.
“The agreement also improves student access to market-leading technology which supports their current education and lays the foundation for future careers.
"This means no student misses out on the digital tools they need to expand their education. This reflects Microsoft’s commitment to empowering every student on the planet to achieve more,” Blackman says.
Privacy is also a core element of the agreement.
For Microsoft privacy is an important part of its education products, and the company commits to not use customer data such as the content of student emails and documents for advertising, Blackman says.
“Parents and caregivers entrust the care and safety of their children to schools - they expect it to be a physically safe place.
“Microsoft believes this safe environment must be extended to the digital world students now inhabit. We are committed to offering that safe and trusted environment," he says.
According to Blackman this agreement solidifies the company’s commitment to education, and it’s strengthening relationship with the Ministry of Education.
“This is a hugely significant agreement. It cements Microsoft’s role as a key technology partner for the New Zealand government and it showcases the company’s commitment to enabling world-class digital education in a safe environment for students,” he says.