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MSDE, Microsoft collaborate to provide cutting-edge technologies to Maryland public school students

Andrea Blackstone | 1/22/2015, 10 a.m.
Maryland State Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Lillian M. Lowery announced a statewide collaboration between the Maryland State Department of Education ...
Maryland State Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Lillian M. Lowery announced the statewide collaboration between Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) and Microsoft to provide cutting-edge technologies to Maryland public school students at a press conference on Thursday, January 8, 2015 at High Point High School in Prince George's County. (Photo: Andrea Blackstone)

Maryland State Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Lillian M. Lowery announced a statewide collaboration between the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) and Microsoft to provide cutting-edge technologies to Maryland public school students, their families and educators at a press conference on Thursday, January 8, 2015 at High Point High School in Prince George's County.

The business community, districts, states and schools were challenged to increase high-speed Internet access to American students in schools and libraries by President Obama’s

ConnectED initiative, designed to enrich K-12 education through technology. Microsoft and MSDE answered the call to action through a special collaboration.

Superintendent Lowery explained that Maryland public school students and teachers can download Office 365 ProPlus on up to five home devices, including PCs, Macs, Android devices, tablets iPhones and iPads without cost.

“Microsoft is helping us to address equity and career readiness for all students,” Lowery said.

Jaime Harper, general manger of education for Microsoft, also announced that Microsoft IT Academy (ITA) programs will be offered in the state.

Microsoft will increase access to information technology training in 25 Maryland high schools piloting ITA. High Point High School is an ITA program site. Public school students will use Microsoft technologies and be encouraged to consider careers in the technology fields, such as IT infrastructure, computer software design and database design.

“We’re launching 25 new Microsoft IT Academies in Maryland. Microsoft will provide licenses for the Microsoft IT Academy program to 25 high schools in 10 county school systems. All students in the receiving high schools will have access to online courses and tutorials, and the teachers will receive unlimited access to instructional tools,” Harper said.

As a part of the ITA program, participants will have the opportunity to earn MTA (Microsoft Technology Associate) certification. In Anne Arundel County, Chesapeake High School and Meade Senior High School will reportedly offer Microsoft IT Academy programs. Digital Harbor High School, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute and Coppin Academy High School are listed as participating Baltimore City School locations. In Baltimore County, Dulaney High School, Western Tech High School, Catonsville High School, Eastern Technical High School and Sparrows Point High School are reportedly among the 25 new high-level information technology academy program sites.

Harper explained that under the ITA program, educators who work at participating schools, students and staff will receive digital curriculum and professional development. With their assistance, students will be enabled to learn in-demand skills that can help prepare them to compete in a skilled workforce.

"In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that more than 50 percent of today’s jobs require some degree of technology skills, and experts say that will increase to over 77 percent in the next decade. So truly, it's not enough just to have competency. It's also important to have skills in the technology, going forward. And our goal here is to increase access to these trainings and certifications that allow these young people to pursue any profession they choose, because technology skills will be required by most," Harper said.

According to Harper, learning to design a database or write a web page can help students think about getting a job in the IT field.

Maryland public schools students and their families can download Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus at https://marylandaccess.education.