The Ministry of Education has renewed 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.
Microsoft have been travelling to schools around the country giving free seminars about how to enhance teaching, learning and assessment with technology. To ensure that schools can easily upgrade to Windows 8 and Office 2013, Microsoft will be releasing a step by step Deployment Kit during Term 4, 2013.
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 can also use Microsoft’s Office365 cloud service at no cost. With the service students and teachers can access documents and software from anywhere with any device, irrespective of the software loaded onto the device. It also allows multiple students to work on the same documents at the same time, lending itself to online project work and collaboration between students in different classrooms, cities and countries.
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,” says Blackman.
“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.
Upgrading is particularly important for the schools still using XP software as after April next year, support for XP will be switched off. Schools still using XP will be vulnerable to viruses and over time will find new technology will not be compatible with XP.