Starting today, students with a qualifying email address can try Office 365 for half a year.
Between books, tuition, and booze, going to college is an expensive proposition. It's understandable, then, if students aren't particularly anxious to sign up for a monthly subscription fee for Office 365, Microsoft's cloud-based productivity suite, but when you start throwing around the world "free," it's a good way to get their attention. And so it goes, Microsoft today is offering to let students with a qualifying .edu email address try out Office 365 for an entire semester.
I can't tell you the number of times I came down with dysentery, one of the many diseases that stopped me dead in my tracks on the Oregon Trail. But I plodded on, a banker from Boston who developed a skill for shooting bison and fast moving critters. And then it would be time for recess. Today's generation may never known of the awesomeness that was playing Oregon Trail on an Apple computer, but thanks to Valve, a good many will experience Portal 2 in the classroom as part of a "Steams for School" initiative.
We're all for promoting technology in schools and teaching kids how to use a command a line, but do kindergartners really need an iPad? The state of Maine apparently thinks so and plans to spend $200,000 equipping more than 300 incoming kindergarten students with Apple's iPad 2 tablet. That means when they're not eating glue or sticking crayons up their noses, they can fire up a $500 tablet and get in a game of Angry Birds.
Calling in sick to school and then heading to the arcade is getting to be more difficult than ever. First, there aren't many arcades left to begin to with. But even more tricky is the use of GPS tracking. According to an OC Register report, the Anaheim Union High School District is the first in California to pilot the use of GPS to track students who have a history of skipping class.
Ohio kids can't seem to catch a break this year. First it was hometown hero LeBron James breaking up with Cleveland in ceremonious fashion and skipping town to take his talents to South Beach, and now they're being told that they'll still have attend school during snow days. No, the superintendent isn't forcing kids to trek through blizzards to learn the Pythagorean theorem, but they are required to hop online.
The Ohio Department of Education is watching as the Mississinawa Valley Schools in Darke County experiment with online learning during days off because of snow and other inclement weather, The Washington Postreports. If the tests are successful, more schools could be added to the mix.
For school kids, it could be worse -- just ask our folks, who claim they used to walk three miles to school, through snowstorms, uphill, both ways.
Microsoft today announced a new Bing-powered education emporium called Redu. The goal, says Microsoft, is to give students, parents, teachers, and people in general a place to discuss current events and take action where they see fit.
"These aren't problems that can be solved in one administrative term or election cycle, and it's overwhelming for one corporation, political party, or community organization to think about alone," says Cameraon Evans, Microsoft's U.S. Education chief technology officer, in regards to educational issues like lack of school funding and academic performance. "The focus of Redu is to take these voices and put them together to bring about change."
Redu, or REDU if you want to spell it with all caps like Microsoft does, includes tools and resources to help ambitious would-be changers of the world who haven't yet been jaded. Things like setting up donations for local classroom projects to researching how to become a teacher in a particular state are all part of the Redu experience, explains Adam Sohn, a senior director of online services at microsoft.
"There's a lot going on but there isn't one place where people can come and participate in a discussion," Sohn says. "Redu is a good way for us to help people participate in one of the most important conversations that will happen in America over the next decade."
The district avowedly captured 56,000 images as part of its anti-theft efforts. While it has every reason to heave a sigh of relief, it is still not time for full-scale festivities as a case filed by a student's family in February is still pending before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Mega book chain Barnes and Noble this week announced NOOKstudy, a free online reading and study platform for college students. Described as the "ultimate study tool," NOOKstudy allows students to manage their eBooks, class materials, and notes in a single place.
"NOOKstudy is a big win for college students: it will not only lighten their backpacks, but also help them save money and study more efficiently," said Tracey Weber, EVP, Textbooks and Digital Eduction, Barnes & Noble.com. "NOOKstudy is a revolutionary approach to learning that offers students access to the reading and organizational tools they need, across all content sources and formats, enabling them to study smarter, not harder."
B&N said the NOOKstudy platform represents "extensive feedback" from students, professors, and administrators alike. With NOOKstudy, students are able to view multiple books and sources at the same time while also accessing complementary content, like toolsets, reference materials, and so forth.
A videogame that's fully funded by a Department of Defense grant is helping kids in Albuquerque, New Mexico learn about everything from basic properties to algebra two, but not everyone is on board with the idea.
"We are feeding the addiction of these children to videogames," Marlene Perrotte, a parent of one of the students, told her local news station. "What the recall is not the prime number they were talking about, but rather getting through to the enemy."
Some parents are taking exception both to using videogames as a learning tool, and because of the violent content. But according to Gary Bodman, this is just a modern take on flash cards, and none of the targets are human.
"This is something that is just like a 21st century flash card really," Bodman said. "They can use jetpacks and at the same time they have to know what the associative property is. Anything we can do to meet the kids on their own grounds and educate them is to our advantage."
View the video here, and then hit the jump and tell us if the concerned parents have a point or are overreacting.
Microsoft's latest promotion adds one more reason why it's a good idea to stay in school. How does Windows 7 Home Premium (Upgrade) for 30 bucks sound? That sounds like a smokin' hot deal to us, and if you're a student at a qualifying college or university, you can pounce on this pricing.
According to Microsoft's terms and conditions, the Windows 7 Academic Offer runs until January 3rd, 2010, although there's a small chance Digital River, the e-commerce site driving the promo, could extend the offer. If eligible, students can choose between Windows 7 Home Premium or Professional, though it's unclear how much extra Professional runs.
These are download versions, though for $13, Microsoft says it will send you a disk.