Maryland education officials say the state’s 870,000 public school students will get free Microsoft Office 365 software as part of a new state partnership with the technology giant.
Under the collaboration, students will be able to download the Microsoft software at no cost on up to five devices, including desktops, laptops, tablets and cellphones, a spokesman for the Maryland State Department of Education said.
The Maryland-Microsoft partnership also includes what state education officials described as high-level information technology academy programs at 25 high schools in Maryland. The programs will offer industry-recognized certifications, officials said.
“Through this collaboration, young people and adults have access to the tools, skills and certification opportunities they need to train at school and at home for in-demand careers,” Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Lillian M. Lowery said in a statement.
Microsoft officials said their partnership with Maryland came as one response to President Obama’s ConnectED initiative, to increase connectivity and educational technology in U.S. schools. The company has provided similar benefits to districts and schools nationally; Maryland is the first state.
The alliance was announced Thursday at High Point High School in Prince George’s County, one of the sites for the IT academy programs. Locally, other programs will be located in high schools in Anne Arundel, Charles, Frederick and St. Mary’s counties.
State officials said the 25 high schools piloting the IT academy program were chosen based on factors including enrollment in existing computer science courses and interest in expanding Career and Technology Education programs in IT and computer science.
Microsoft Office 365 includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Lync, Publisher and Access. The no-cost download is accessible through https://marylandaccess.education.