Welcome to the cloud: Peel School District moves to Office 365

On Monday, we announced the availability of Student Advantage, which enables schools and universities licensing Office 365 ProPlus or Office Professional Plus for staff and faculty to extend the service to students at no additional cost. We also mentioned a new education customer has recently turned to Office 365, and today we’re happy to officially share more details.

The Peel District School Board, Canada’s second largest public school board, has turned to Office 365 to help equip their students for future success. The deployment will give more than 150,000 students, administrators and staff members access to Office 365 tools. The technology team at Peel evaluated solutions from other vendors, but felt that Office 365 provided the capabilities and integration they needed, and would effectively help prepare students for the working world. Office 365 also supports mobile platforms, aligning well with the district’s BYOD initiative.

The students in the Peel District will have the opportunity to become proficient with Office 365, which according to IDC, is the third most sought after skill in today’s job market. In a highly competitive job market where less than two in five hiring managers reported they felt college students or recent graduates are prepared for a job in their chosen fields, it’s more important than ever for students to build real-world skills that will translate well to the office.

Office 365 helps provide those real-world skills more than any other productivity solution, helping teachers prepare students for success in the classroom and beyond. It enhances collaboration and helps to build the technical skills young adults need to excel. We took some time to look at a day in the life of both students and teachers to see why Office 365 supports classroom engagement and education in ways Google Apps for Education cannot.

Preparing students for the workplace: Student Advantage is now available

At the end of the 2013-2014 school year, more than 2.6 million college students are expected to graduate faced with a highly competitive job market. According to a 2013 study by Harris Interactive and Chegg, fewer than two of five hiring managers find college students or recent graduates are prepared for a job in their chosen fields. It is clear that schools have an opportunity to both educate students and prepare them for a highly competitive global workforce.

According to a 2013 study by IDC, employers are looking for candidates that have 20 specific skills for high-growth, high-wage occupations. Coming in at number 3 on this list is proficiency with Microsoft Office, with proficiency with PowerPoint and Word specifically highlighted at #11 and #13 on the list. In fact, Microsoft Office skills were sought after five times more than any other productivity tools. Even Google’s own job postings require competency with Microsoft Office tools.

Because Office is such a highly valued skillset with employers, students who use Office 365 will have the most up-to-date versions of the productivity tools they need to excel in the classroom and the workforce.

Student Advantage available worldwide

In October, we announced a new benefit called Student Advantage, making it easy for students to get access to the latest version of Microsoft Office and better prepare themselves for the tools used in modern day workplaces. Today, Student Advantage is available to more than 35,000 educational institutions worldwide.

All schools and universities that license Office 365 ProPlus or Office Professional Plus for staff and faculty can now also provide access to Office 365 ProPlus for students at no additional cost. We’re already working with schools that have signed up for Student Advantage, including the Sao Paolo State Department of Education (SEE), which is providing access to Office 365 for over four million students.

To learn more about Student Advantage, visit http://office.com/education.

Schools and students give Office 365 high marks

Recently, one of North America’s largest school boards turned to Office 365 to provide more than 150,000 students and faculty with the latest Office tools. Because Office supports multiple operating systems and devices, Office 365 was a natural fit for the district. We’ll share more about this customer and their use of other Microsoft technologies later this week.

Approximately 97 percent of students using productivity software use Microsoft Office, and one such student is Kara Page. A college senior finishing a degree in biochemistry, Kara has been using Office since she was 13 and can’t imagine making it through college without it. She is using OneNote to organize her thesis research, using Lync to connect with students in a class for which she serves as a teacher’s aide and saves hours of time by using advanced functions and graphing capabilities with Excel.

Even younger students are finding the value of Office. In October, 9-year-old Jomiloju Tunde-Oladipo of Nigeria became one of the youngest certified Microsoft Office Specialists. Jomiloju, who hopes to someday work in the technology industry, joins only a handful of other students ages 10 and below who have demonstrated such a level of proficiency with Microsoft Office tools. And according to the list of skills employers are looking for, we’d say he already has a pretty good chance at fulfilling his dream.

The new Student Advantage benefit will help students like Kara and Jomiloju build the technical skills they will need once they graduate and enter the workforce. To learn more about how your school can benefit from this program, please visit: http://office.com/education.

Student perspective: How college senior Kara Page prepares for the working world with Office

We often hear from businesses that rely on Microsoft Office to get work done, but today we’re posting a conversation we recently had with Kara Page, a college senior majoring in biochemistry. Kara has been using Office since she was 13 years old and can’t imagine life without tools like Word, OneNote, PowerPoint and Excel helping her through college.

Kara PageQ: You’ve been using Office for a long time. Can you share how you’re using Office to finish your biochemistry degree?

Kara: I spend a crazy amount of time in the lab and creating reports on research projects. Right now, I’m working on my thesis. One of my favorite professors shared a bunch of historical research with me, but it was all printed on paper in this massive notebook. I don’t want to lug around this huge research notebook–it weighs a ton–so I’m working on compiling everything into OneNote. That way I can access the research I need for my thesis much easier on my computer, and once I graduate, I can hand off my research digitally so someone else can pick up where I left off.

I also make a ton of PowerPoint presentations and data tables in Excel. Just recently I had to write two papers and do two 30-minute presentations for one of my biochemistry classes. It was a lot of work, but after one of my presentations on a neuroscience topic I’m researching, the other people in my class told me they thought my presentation looked so good and so professional. I took all the credit for it, but really it was the templates I used in PowerPoint–I just clicked the buttons.

Q: I’ve also heard you’re a real whiz with Excel. Can you share a little about how you use some advanced functioning for your reports?

Kara: I was attending a prep school in Miami when I started using Excel. I had a great teacher who started teaching us 13-year-olds how to use all these functions in Excel. That completely changed my life. I rely on Excel for a lot to this day, and I can see myself using it once I start my career.

Just the other weekend, I spent six hours on a lab report while everyone else spent all weekend on theirs. I created some graphs that would shift and change as I added my research, and my classmates were blown away at how easy it was. In Excel, you can make your data look really clean and change the styles. People are amazed at how fast it is and how little time it takes me to finish my reports.

I also don’t keep Excel a secret–when people ask me how I did that, I show them exactly how to create tables and graphs. Those advanced functions in Excel can take a while to learn, but if you learn how to use Excel in college, you’ll be set for life.

Q: Are there other ways you’ve found Office useful in completing your degree?

Kara: Office saves me regularly. I know I can work on a file and the formatting won’t get screwy, or I can have a teacher’s aide review my reports and track their changes so I can see where they made suggestions or updates. And I think that the new Student Advantage benefit will help save the day for a lot more students, too. Using Office is life changing for students–we can create better reports and better presentations if we’re given the right tools. It’s like a NASCAR driver using a race car instead of a minivan – you can do your best work when you have the right tools.

Q: That’s a great analogy. What about using Microsoft Office to collaborate?

Kara: I love Lync. It might sound goofy, but I love the little emoticons of the cats and dogs and sheep. I’m a teacher’s aide for a class that I teach to students in Ireland and Egypt, so I have a regular schedule of when I’m on Lync and available to talk to them and answer their questions. It feels really professional, and that way I don’t have them texting me on my personal phone or trying to talk to me outside of my office hours.

I also use Skype a lot. My dad lives in Singapore and travels a lot, so it can be hard to get in touch with him. But we get to see each other a lot using Skype. My little brother, who is turning 4 years old, even knows how to use Skype. It’s so cute, and he’s already better with technology than I am!

Q: What do you want to do after you graduate? Do you feel like you’re learning the skills you need for your career?

Kara: I definitely think knowing how to use Office and studying hard has prepared me for the “real world.” Last summer I had an internship at a research lab for the U.S. Army and it seemed so mysterious going into it, but then I realized all they work they do there is just Excel, and I know how to use that. Everyone I worked with during that internship used Office all the time, so it was great to know my skills will transfer to the working world easily.

After I graduate, I want to work for a health research organization like Genzyme where people are learning about rare diseases, or continue a family legacy in public health started by my grandfather. I want to get other people as excited about this field as I am, and I want to share my love for technology. Scientists aren’t necessarily known for producing aesthetically pleasing work, but it’s so easy to do using Office.

Gift-giving solutions: Windows devices top picks and holiday deals

Whether your shopping list includes geeks or tech beginners, we have you covered this holiday season with our top picks for Windows devices–even some with Office preloaded at no extra cost.

The lineup includes a wide range of tablets and plenty of best-in-class laptops, plus some great holiday deals. Your new Windows device will have the familiar desktop and Start button you already know and love, and it still works great with Office. Plus, on new touchscreen devices, you can experience Office and touch together–working and creating in Office will never be the same again.

In Windows, you’ll find great new features, such as Bing Smart Search, that make it a snap to search your device, the cloud, and the web to find what you need when you need it. You’ll also have access to great built-in apps, as well as popular and exclusive apps in the Windows Store.

Check out our hand-picked favorites and compare devices to find the perfect one for the people on your list–and something for yourself too.

Holiday resources

Thank you, Microsoft Office 365 customers!

Thanksgiving is a great time to take a step back and reflect upon what we’re grateful for. At the top of the list for us is the great customers we work with every day.

Thanks to our customers, Microsoft Office has become the de facto standard for productivity with more than 1 billion users around the world.  We’re honored that after more than two decades and multiple free alternatives, people and businesses prefer Office to do the things most important to them.

In a recent online study, over half of office workers said they are expected to be able to get work done no matter where they are. The study found more than half (56%) of office workers consider access to the documents they need a “must have” while working away from the office; and half (50%) feel security and privacy are an important consideration when working away from the office.

The way people work has changed over the years and so has Office. Meeting a wide range of productivity needs across consumers, small businesses, schools, governments and the world’s largest enterprises is a big responsibility and one that requires a commitment to meet varied needs of customers.

Microsoft Office remains the productivity suite leader in the enterprise, according to a recent Forrester survey, and we expect that trend to continue . Thank you to all businesses that choose Office 365, including those who chose Office 365 over Google Apps for Business.

Families that want Office on multiple PCs or Macs and devices are choosing Office 365 Home Premium to stay up-to-date at home or while on the move. Thanks to over 2 million subscribers for choosing Office in the cloud.

The recently released IDC study provides insight into the skills students need for tomorrow’s best jobs and Office proficiency was found to be #3 on this list. With over 110 million students, faculty and staff that are using Office 365 Education, we are honored to support you to be successful in school work and beyond.

We’re grateful for your business.

Welcome to the cloud: Peel School District moves to Office 365

On Monday, we announced the availability of Student Advantage, which enables schools and universities licensing Office 365 ProPlus or Office Professional Plus for staff and faculty to extend the service to students at no additional cost. We also mentioned a new education customer has recently turned to Office 365, and today we’re happy to officially share more details.

The Peel District School Board, Canada’s second largest public school board, has turned to Office 365 to help equip their students for future success. The deployment will give more than 150,000 students, administrators and staff members access to Office 365 tools. The technology team at Peel evaluated solutions from other vendors, but felt that Office 365 provided the capabilities and integration they needed, and would effectively help prepare students for the working world. Office 365 also supports mobile platforms, aligning well with the district’s BYOD initiative.

The students in the Peel District will have the opportunity to become proficient with Office 365, which according to IDC, is the third most sought after skill in today’s job market. In a highly competitive job market where less than two in five hiring managers reported they felt college students or recent graduates are prepared for a job in their chosen fields, it’s more important than ever for students to build real-world skills that will translate well to the office.

Office 365 helps provide those real-world skills more than any other productivity solution, helping teachers prepare students for success in the classroom and beyond. It enhances collaboration and helps to build the technical skills young adults need to excel. We took some time to look at a day in the life of both students and teachers to see why Office 365 supports classroom engagement and education in ways Google Apps for Education cannot.

Gift-giving solutions: Windows devices top picks and holiday deals

Whether your shopping list includes geeks or tech beginners, we have you covered this holiday season with our top picks for Windows devices–even some with Office preloaded at no extra cost.

The lineup includes a wide range of tablets and plenty of best-in-class laptops, plus some great holiday deals. Your new Windows device will have the familiar desktop and Start button you already know and love, and it still works great with Office. Plus, on new touchscreen devices, you can experience Office and touch together–working and creating in Office will never be the same again.

In Windows, you’ll find great new features, such as Bing Smart Search, that make it a snap to search your device, the cloud, and the web to find what you need when you need it. You’ll also have access to great built-in apps, as well as popular and exclusive apps in the Windows Store.

Check out our hand-picked favorites and compare devices to find the perfect one for the people on your list–and something for yourself too.

Holiday resources

  • Holiday planning with OneNote (video)
  • Templates for the holidays: Address and gift labels, cards, calendars, menus and more (video)
  • How to make a photo calendar
  • Make holiday labels with Word templates
  • Tips for organizing, trip planning, and photo editing
  • Managing a family calendar with Outlook (video)
  • Office 365 Home Premium is the right fit for the whole family

Student perspective: How college senior Kara Page prepares for the working world with Office

We often hear from businesses that rely on Microsoft Office to get work done, but today we’re posting a conversation we recently had with Kara Page, a college senior majoring in biochemistry. Kara has been using Office since she was 13 years old and can’t imagine life without tools like Word, OneNote, PowerPoint and Excel helping her through college.

Kara PageQ: You’ve been using Office for a long time. Can you share how you’re using Office to finish your biochemistry degree?

Kara: I spend a crazy amount of time in the lab and creating reports on research projects. Right now, I’m working on my thesis. One of my favorite professors shared a bunch of historical research with me, but it was all printed on paper in this massive notebook. I don’t want to lug around this huge research notebook–it weighs a ton–so I’m working on compiling everything into OneNote. That way I can access the research I need for my thesis much easier on my computer, and once I graduate, I can hand off my research digitally so someone else can pick up where I left off.

I also make a ton of PowerPoint presentations and data tables in Excel. Just recently I had to write two papers and do two 30-minute presentations for one of my biochemistry classes. It was a lot of work, but after one of my presentations on a neuroscience topic I’m researching, the other people in my class told me they thought my presentation looked so good and so professional. I took all the credit for it, but really it was the templates I used in PowerPoint–I just clicked the buttons.

Q: I’ve also heard you’re a real whiz with Excel. Can you share a little about how you use some advanced functioning for your reports?

Kara: I was attending a prep school in Miami when I started using Excel. I had a great teacher who started teaching us 13-year-olds how to use all these functions in Excel. That completely changed my life. I rely on Excel for a lot to this day, and I can see myself using it once I start my career.

Just the other weekend, I spent six hours on a lab report while everyone else spent all weekend on theirs. I created some graphs that would shift and change as I added my research, and my classmates were blown away at how easy it was. In Excel, you can make your data look really clean and change the styles. People are amazed at how fast it is and how little time it takes me to finish my reports.

I also don’t keep Excel a secret–when people ask me how I did that, I show them exactly how to create tables and graphs. Those advanced functions in Excel can take a while to learn, but if you learn how to use Excel in college, you’ll be set for life.

Q: Are there other ways you’ve found Office useful in completing your degree?

Kara: Office saves me regularly. I know I can work on a file and the formatting won’t get screwy, or I can have a teacher’s aide review my reports and track their changes so I can see where they made suggestions or updates. And I think that the new Student Advantage benefit will help save the day for a lot more students, too. Using Office is life changing for students–we can create better reports and better presentations if we’re given the right tools. It’s like a NASCAR driver using a race car instead of a minivan – you can do your best work when you have the right tools.

Q: That’s a great analogy. What about using Microsoft Office to collaborate?

Kara: I love Lync. It might sound goofy, but I love the little emoticons of the cats and dogs and sheep. I’m a teacher’s aide for a class that I teach to students in Ireland and Egypt, so I have a regular schedule of when I’m on Lync and available to talk to them and answer their questions. It feels really professional, and that way I don’t have them texting me on my personal phone or trying to talk to me outside of my office hours.

I also use Skype a lot. My dad lives in Singapore and travels a lot, so it can be hard to get in touch with him. But we get to see each other a lot using Skype. My little brother, who is turning 4 years old, even knows how to use Skype. It’s so cute, and he’s already better with technology than I am!

Q: What do you want to do after you graduate? Do you feel like you’re learning the skills you need for your career?

Kara: I definitely think knowing how to use Office and studying hard has prepared me for the “real world.” Last summer I had an internship at a research lab for the U.S. Army and it seemed so mysterious going into it, but then I realized all they work they do there is just Excel, and I know how to use that. Everyone I worked with during that internship used Office all the time, so it was great to know my skills will transfer to the working world easily.

After I graduate, I want to work for a health research organization like Genzyme where people are learning about rare diseases, or continue a family legacy in public health started by my grandfather. I want to get other people as excited about this field as I am, and I want to share my love for technology. Scientists aren’t necessarily known for producing aesthetically pleasing work, but it’s so easy to do using Office.

How does a teacher offer a better learning experience using Office 365 and Yammer?

There is an old quote that rightfully says “A good teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for others.” With a passion for teaching, a strong work ethic, and a deep understanding of the process of learning, teachers strive to offer a great learning experience to their students. This means a high degree of time spent planning lessons and being ready throughout the school year. A teacher’s life is busy with several activities including planning instruction, keeping records for the students while managing their conduct, presenting subject material, assessing learning and simultaneously meeting their own professional obligations.

With Office 365 for education and Yammer, teachers can get more done in less time. They can evolve lesson plans and collaborate with other teachers on subject material more effectively. They can better communicate with other teachers and students using the latest communication technology such as IM or video conferencing. Teachers can use capabilities in Microsoft Office to build best in class content and study material to better engage in class. They can leverage the capabilities in Lync to schedule online classes and help students be engaged via Polls and Whiteboards.

The infographic below shows how a teacher can be more effective in working through these tasks using Office 365 for education with Yammer versus Google Apps. Check it out for yourself!