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210,000 Catholic Schools To Adopt Office 365

Catholic schools--all 210,000 of them around the world--will have the chance to implement Office 365 for their students as part of a new "social network for Catholic education." The deal was set up as part of an agreement between Microsoft and the Catholic International Education Office (OIEC), an organization that promotes Catholic education.

Through a Microsoft education alliance, OIEC will provide access to technology and training to students and teachers. It will also establish an online space for collaboration and communication.

Office 365 for education is a set of services that includes Office Web Apps, SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, and Lync Online. With Office 365, OIEC students and teachers will be able to:

  • Communicate using instant messaging and videoconferencing;
  • Take part in virtual classes, hold conversations in high-resolution video, and do application and desktop sharing;
  • Create class and group sites, to 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;
  • Share calendars and access mail and calendars across devices; and
  • Create and maintain Web sites.

In addition, OIEC's community of schools will receive subscriptions for Microsoft Learning Suite, a set of 24 free tools for educators, including Windows Live Movie Maker, Live Photo Gallery, Mathematics 4.0, Chemistry Add-in for Word, and others.

The first stage of the work, which starts in 2013, will be to provision software for some 4.5 million students as part of a three-year alliance plan. That could grow with time to cover all 43 million students who attend Catholic schools in 102 countries. The idea of the new social network is to boost the training and access to software that will help students prepare for the use of technology in the workplace.

Schools will also gain access to Microsoft's Partners in Learning Network, an online teacher and administrator networking community. Within that, OIEC will have its own community to allow Catholic school personnel to collaborate.

OIEC will work with Tralcom, an education service provider with international projects, to handle the deployment efforts.

"In alliance with Microsoft, we are entering a new era in global Catholic education," said Angel Astorgano, general secretary of OIEC. "We will offer the most advanced technology, knowledge, and skills to our schools so our next generation of graduates is prepared for the new challenges of the 21st century."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.