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North Carolina Schools To Get Vocational Training in Microsoft Products

High school students in North Carolina will have access to vocational training tools from Microsoft thanks to a deal struck between the company and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

Through the agreement, students and teachers will have access to Microsoft IT Academy, a suite of online curriculum tools, software licenses, support tools, and certifications. Students will be able to use the program to earn certifications that include Microsoft Office Specialist and Microsoft Certified Professional. Teachers will also have access to professional development and teaching resources.

North Carolina is the first state to announce the adoption of Microsoft IT Academy in all of its high schools. It has also become the largest customer to adopt the program out of all 9,000 IT Academy customers worldwide.

The department characterized the move as part of an effort to instill students with skills that might be relevant in the business environment of the future.

June Atkinson, superintendent of public instruction, said in a statement released by Microsoft that knowledge of Microsoft products is "essential" to that effort.

"In today's economy, providing the Microsoft IT Academy to high schools just makes sense," she said. "The ability to effectively use Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access is an essential skill in most businesses and offices today. I am pleased that North Carolina can provide this opportunity for teachers to improve their skills and for students to be career-ready."

Thirty-seven high schools in North Carolina are currently piloting Microsoft IT Academy. Microsoft said high schools in 20 more districts will adopt IT Academy in January 2011. All of the state's 488 public high schools, as well as charter and combined high schools (628 schools total, according to Microsoft), are expected to have access to Microsoft IT Academy by the 2011-2012 school year.

The Department of Public Instruction has responsibility for 115 public school districts that serve some 1.46 million total students throughout the state, including 424,000 secondary students in public high schools and about 6,000 in charter schools.

According to Microsoft, "By the fall of 2011, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction is recommending that all high schools use the Microsoft IT Academy curriculum in teaching their students Computer Applications I, a course in the Career and Technical Education Standard Course of Study."

Further information about IT Academy can be found here.

About the Author

David Nagel is the executive producer for 1105 Media's online K-12 and higher education publications and electronic newsletters. He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com. He can now be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/THEJournalDave (K-12) or http://twitter.com/CampusTechDave (higher education). You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=10390192.

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