I just heard about this great, free offering from Microsoft on Melanie Gass’ BlogTalk Radio Podcast. I was surprised that it came out with not much fanfare. Doing a search for articles brought very few results. Evidently it was announced in June – the one year anniversary of the launch of Office 365. Below is an excerpt from one Microsoft site:
This means that any school – from elementary to university – public or private is able to participate in this program. There are eligibility requirements that need to be met and the educational institution fills out the paperwork, it gets approved and then both teachers and students will be able to access what O365 has to offer. Below are the three plans for academic institutions. You can see there’s no cost for A2 and if the institution wants Office Professional Plus 2010 desktop plus a few other additions, it’s just $2.50/month per student and $4.50 for faculty.
Free to Teachers & Students
- Cloud based email, calendar and contacts. Teachers and students will no longer be tied down to using email only at their schools. With the rich O365 web interface, email can be accessed from anywhere there’s an internet connection. Since it’s cloud based – when an email is read and filed on one computer, it’s automatically synced across all the computers that user may use.
- Lync video conferencing/instant messaging/file transfer. Lync is the business and more secure version of Messenger. Collaborate and instantly see who is on-line and start a video or messaging chat with just a click.
- Share and view files online with Lync.
- Ability to edit and view Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote documents with Microsoft Web Apps.
- Document storage (SharePoint). Although I can’t find any information about this, I do believe it’s included in the package. Students and teachers need places to store and collaborate their documents.
Think of all the possibilities for using these great tools. Collaboration between teachers and students. I know my sister, a first grade teacher, does a lot of collaboration with her fellow 1st grade teachers during the summer and during the school year. With the ability to upload documents and work on them together, they can get things done without having to meet at the school. Teachers could do video conferencing from home, share files among each other and look at documents and talk about them.
I found some information and plans for Academic Alumni too. There’s a free plan for alumni, but I could find no information on how it works.
If you have friends or family in the teaching world, pass this along to them. It seems like a great opportunity.