Microsoft Office 365 for Education free for teachers

Microsoft launches Office 365 for Education, as Scottish Government commits to using the free cloud productivity suite.

One year on since Microsoft launched Office 365 the vendor has released Office 365 for Education, a cloud suite free for its education customers.

Early adopters in the UK include University of Dundee, Westminster University and The Schools Network (formerly SSAT).

The Scottish Government has committed to using Microsoft’s Office 365 for Education, in addition to The Catholic International Education Office and the All India Council for Technical Education.

The cloud-based suite includes Microsoft Office desktop applications, as well as Microsoft Exchange Online, Microsoft SharePoint Online and Microsoft Lync Online.

According to the vendor Office 365 for Education allows staff and students to gain access to email and calendars, Office Web Apps, video and online meetings and document sharing.  

Special features include a 25-gigabyte Inbox per person and online storage through Microsoft SkyDrive.

Steve Beswick the director of education at Microsoft, said: “Following on with our ‘anytime, anywhere learning for all’ motto Office 365 for Education being in the cloud provides flexibility for students and teachers. The product uses familiar tools, so teachers and students will feel more comfortable and can move over at their own speed.

“The infrastructure is the same as what we use for our commercial customers, so for example the uptime and security features are the same. We have not separated the education version out, because it is free.”

Beswick explained: “The University of Dundee told us they would encounter daily errors with their previous email system, but have not yet received an error notification with Office 365 for Education.”

The University of Dundee has approximately 22,000 students and 3,000 staff. The university opted for Office 365 for Education to improve its messaging system and reduce its IT administration costs. The university is also considering broadening its communication and collaborations capabilities through its distance learning program.

Earlier this year the software giant unveiled its Partners in Learning (PiL) programme, which focuses on teachers swapping ideas about how technology can be used throughout all lessons.

“It’s not just about the technology, but how to use technology more in teaching. For instance we will film a geography teacher using technology in their classroom and use this to inspire other teachers in different ways that they can use technology to teach,” added Beswick.

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