08 Aug 2013
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Ministry extends Microsoft Schools Agreement to 2015

By Rebecca Wood

Teachers and students across the country have greater access to modern e-learning tools thanks to the renewed Microsoft Schools Agreement.

The Ministry of Education has extended the Microsoft Schools Agreement through to the end of 2015. The agreement provides schools with unlimited access to the Windows operating system and Microsoft Office software for school-owned or leased devices, as well as unrestricted use of Windows Core Servers.

Evan Blackman, Microsoft education sector manager, says the renewed Microsoft Schools Agreement gives schools certainty about what technology platforms are available to them, so that teachers and students can fully utilise the technology in their classrooms.

Pauline Barnes from the Ministry of Education agrees, “The extension to December 2015 gives schools greater ability to make IT network management plans. It will support schools to access and provide modern digital teaching and learning environments”.

Schools are also taking advantage of Microsoft’s seminars that discuss how to enhance teaching, learning and assessment with technology to schools around the country.

Blackman says technology is now an integral part of the way teachers teach and students learn, and is key to lifting academic achievement in New Zealand.

“E-learning is changing teaching and learning. With our suite of software and infrastructure almost any form of information sharing is possible. For example, rural schools will be able to organise lessons for their students via our video conferencing software, Lync. Equally, teachers will be able to share resources and work on lesson plans together,” he says.

In addition, a step-by-step deployment kit to assist schools with upgrading systems to Windows 8 and Office 2013, will be released in term four. This upgrade is particularly important for schools using XP software as support for XP will be switched off in April 2014. Schools still using XP will be vulnerable to viruses and over time will find new technology will not be compatible with XP.

“Technology should enable collaborative learning and give students access to amazing resources, not take educators away from the classroom to roll it out.  So we’ve created a deployment kit that basically does the heavy lifting involved for schools in upgrading to Windows 8,” says Blackman.

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