The Catholic International Education Office (OIEC) recently entered into an education alliance with Microsoft Corp. to provide Office 365 for its community of Catholic schools across the world as part of a new Social Network for Catholic Education. This will begin with provision of software for 4.5 million students as part of a 3 year alliance plan but in time has the potential to scale across OIEC’s community of more than 43 million Catholic students, at 210,000 schools, in 102 countries. The new network will provide innovative software and services, training and access, to technologies that will better prepare students for the jobs of the future.
OIEC’s mission includes the promotion of education for all, collaboration within academic communities, and the fight against illiteracy worldwide. In an ever-evolving technology landscape, educators in the 21st century face continuing challenges to build skills among teachers, and provide students with the tools and knowledge they need to be successful. Working closely with schools around the globe for more than 20 years, Microsoft has a deep appreciation for these challenges. Based on experience, Microsoft currently takes a holistic approach to working with schools, one that’s focused on improving educational outcomes for both students and educators that will have the greatest impact in the classroom.
“In partnership with Microsoft, we are entering a new era in global Catholic education,” said F. Angel Astorgano, general secretary, OIEC. “We will offer the most advanced technology, knowledge and skills to our schools so that our next generation of graduates is prepared for the new challenges of the 21st century.”
In a competitive employment landscape, graduates who have developed technology skills are frequently provided with more opportunities. However, many schools around the globe are not able to evolve curriculum quickly enough to keep pace. Many schools simply do not have access to the technologies and training necessary to prepare students for the modern work force.
“An innovative and forward thinking Catholic organization is supporting the modernization of their schools, working with Microsoft and mutual partner Tralcom to deliver technology solutions to Catholic students and educators around the world,” said Anthony Salcito, Vice President of Worldwide Education. “We are excited about delivering on the technology needs of these students and supporting a global community of individuals with shared values, and helping to ensure they are well equipped for the jobs of tomorrow.”
Through the Microsoft education alliance, OIEC will provide access to technology and training to students and teachers as well as establish an online space for collaboration, communication and information sharing. The alliance with Microsoft consists of the following key elements:
- Access to technologies that enable creativity, research and study, collaboration, and teaching and learning
- Creation of an online network for Catholic education and all OIEC schools
- Curriculum and training to develop digital literacy skills, help integrate technology into teaching and learning, and provide blueprints for innovative schooling
- Access to research findings and tools that measure and promote innovative education practices
Access Is Everything
According to an IDC study, more than half of today’s jobs require some technology skills, and that number will increase to 90 percent by 2015. Using workplace technology in a school environment gives students a head start when beginning their careers, whereas students with no access to technology will be at a disadvantage.
Office 365 for education offers powerful collaboration tools, including SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, Lync Online and Office Web Apps, in the cloud for organizations of all sizes. Microsoft Office 365 for education delivers the power of cloud productivity to educational institutions, helping to save time and money while increasing student and faculty productivity through a rich set of privacy, security, and protection capabilities ensuring students are safe. With Office 365 for education, OIEC students and educators will be able to do the following:
- Communicate using instant messaging and videoconferencing, taking part in virtual classes and transforming any conversation to include high-resolution video, application, and desktop sharing
- Collaborate across the globe by creating class and group sites which allow users to view availability of others and work together on projects in real-time
- View, edit, and share Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote files online with SharePoint Online and Office Web Apps, working together on projects and assignments
- Share calendars and access mail and calendars across devices, securely and reliably
- Create and maintain compelling websites and edit them as easily as they would a Word document
In addition, OIEC’s community of schools will receive subscriptions for Microsoft Learning Suite, which includes a variety of tools and services that enable educators and students to create, conduct research, study, collaborate and teach.
Innovation Networks Promote Collaboration
Beginning in 2013, components of the Microsoft Innovative Schools and Innovative Teachers programs will be made available to OIEC to help promote innovative teaching and learning practices. As part of these programs, OIEC schools will have access to the Microsoft Partners in Learning Network, which is the largest online teacher and school leader professional networking community in the world with more than 4 million members worldwide.
OIEC will have its own community area within the Partners in Learning Network to allow for collaboration targeted across the Catholic Schools community. In addition, select OIEC schools will participate in the Microsoft Innovative Schools program and will be given additional resources to help promote teaching and learning innovation.