Big changes for education in the Big Apple

As a native New Yorker, I take special pride in the announcement made today by City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito during her State of the City address. Today, 1.1 million students in the New York City Public Schools are taking a significant step forward in their educations and will now have free access to the productivity powerhouse that is Office 365.

In collaboration with the City Council, the New York City Department of Education is making the Office 365 ProPlus benefit available to all teachers and students – at no cost – providing them with up to five downloads of the latest versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Access and Publisher, along with anywhere, anytime access to OneDrive cloud storage. Students and teachers can also download Office to 5 additional mobile devices (smartphones or tablets).

What’s the impact of this bold move? In the city that is a world leader in so many areas, every student will gain proficiency in what IDC called the number-three most in-demand skills valued for employers. Quite simply, the integration of Office 365 into every student’s daily schoolwork prepares them for future success by developing both the hard and soft skills they’ll need as they enter college and the workplace.

For educators – like my brother, who teaches history at the Bronx’s largest public high school — the Office 365 ProPlus benefit means they can expect more from their students. With free at-home access to the same tools students use at school, classroom assignments will no longer be confined to the classroom. Students will be free to research, create, collaborate and share — anywhere, and at any time. And educators can create and review assignments and assess student progress just as easily, freeing them up to concentrate on the business of learning.

With the program, educators can access full Office on up to five PCs or Macs and can unlock the editing capabilities of Office apps for iPad. They can also take advantage of great Office apps and add-ins like Office Mix to record and publish class lectures. With tools like Lync, the students in NYC can communicate with other classrooms around the world, and collaborate instantaneously. And with OneNote, teachers can share lesson plans, class notes, photos, and ideas on any device, accessible from anywhere.

Microsoft is committed to improving education outcomes and helping young people around the world do more and achieve more. We fulfill that commitment every day through the more than 30 free programs and hundreds of partnerships that make up the Microsoft YouthSpark initiative. We also bring that commitment to life through the Office 365 ProPlus benefit.

We applaud Speaker Mark-Viverito, Chancellor Carmen Fariña, and Mayor Bill DeBlasio for their commitment and dedication to the students, and the future, of New York. By making the world’s most widely used productivity platform available in a district as massive as New York City, the benefit represents transformational change at scale – and game-changing progress.