Why Student Advantage is more then just free office

Free office! For pretty much every youngster and educator in the UK. Crikey, what a deal!

It’s definitely something that gets parents and staff’s attention, with office costing circa £90 for home and student, it is a significant saving, and with the cross device usability (you can install on 5 devices including tablets) it is very appealing.

Clearly this is a great ploy for Microsoft marketing  – staff and pupils will now be hooked on the familiar and standardised programs for the rest of their lives. And as a result, business, where the big bucks are, will continue to invest in the product

So, aside from making sure schools are training the next generation of office users for the Microsoft coffers – we should look into why this is something that all schools should roll out…

And first off, it’s not for staffs benefit. Yes, they will probably create more with Microsoft products in the classroom, because they have improved access to the programs – which are, lets face it, the best around.

Actually, the fact is – in our case anyway – staff will probably not use free office for work as much as using the remote desktop, it will be faster sometimes to use office, but its just another tool we provide to make life as easy as possible for them. They have actually been using Office for free for years of course, in school. This just increases access.

No, the real benefit is for pupils. The ability to access their one drive, and do work on any device available to them is a game changer. The software will be the same as at school, so familiar, and work will be easily accessible. Single sign on means setup and access is simple. Web based version of office mean they don’t even need to install software.

Most pupils these days have tablets, and not laptops – well, office works on these as well now.

This ability for pupils, no matter what their financial situation to all be on an equal pegging for using technology to complete their homework is a great thing for schools to be offering. I know not all have internet, or a device – but the vast, vast majority at least have access.

This follows the route we have taken in school with our development plans, ICT is no longer just about dedicated IT rooms, it is making technology available for all when they need it, in easy to access, familiar way. We did it with our tablets, deploying some 380 odd which has made  huge impact to teaching and learning in school, and this roll out of office to pupils at home (along with their ability to use remote desktop) means we are, as much as possible, making IT easy to use at home for pupils. And that’s the key bit, making it easy. Remote desktop for pupils? Not at year 5. Office, which their parents set up to take advantage of, and instant access to save to school with no logging in or addresses? That’s easy!

Finally, as a MAC of 4 schools, this is something we are looking to roll out, because the biggest plus will be one drive and sharing documents, without having to join domains and all sorts. I will write about that more in the future, when I have had a chance to think it through, but the idea is an exciting one. And all this, under EES, at no extra cost.