REDMOND, Wash., Nov. 12, 2001 — Remember book reports? Tanner Hudson, a seventh-grader in Clovis, Calif., is redefining them. Using Microsoft PowerPoint 2002 presentation graphics software, Hudson and his classmates create powerful multimedia homework projects. Along with handwritten assignments, today’s students complete numerous research projects online that make learning exciting and allow their creativity to flourish.
Hudson’s parents say using a computer for schoolwork at home fosters parental involvement, holds their son more accountable for completing his homework and expands his pool of educational and reference resources.
“When we were kids, you and I might have had a book to take home and read Chapter 3. Today’s kids have the whole world,” says Tanner’s mother, Kym Hudson. “The kids in class don’t come home with 20 different books, but they can read 20 different articles online at home. He’s learning tons more than he would just using textbooks.”
It’s that promise of access to information and technology that led Microsoft to offer students, parents and teachers a discounted price on one of its most popular software suites. Because so many schools now incorporate PCs into their curriculum — four out of five school-age children in the U.S. use a computer at school, according to 2000 U.S. Census statistics — the recent introduction of Office XP Standard for Students and Teachers is designed to create a seamless transition between in-classroom work and homework.
The Clovis Unified School District laptop-computer program lets students check homework assignments on the Internet and submit projects online. But to have their son participate, the Hudsons have to pay for the computer products he needs . So they appreciate educational software discounts for home use. They believe other families in this central California municipality near Fresno — where agriculture remains a major industry — also want to invest in technology, but have budget constraints.
“You have to buy the computer, you have to buy the software. Everything adds up,” Kym Hudson says. “I can tell you some kids aren’t in the laptop program because of the cost. So price is critical.”
Microsoft hopes the discount on its Office XP educational product will help provide easy and affordable home access to the tools that students are familiar with at school, helping set them up for immediate and long-term success.
“We believe it’s important that technology help improve education. We want to create a dynamic, collaborative learning environment that helps students realize their potential today and for a lifetime,” says John Litten, director of Microsoft’s Youth & Learning Program.
Special Discount for Students and Teachers
Since late October, Microsoft Office XP Standard for Students and Teachers has been available to parents and teachers for US$149 — almost 70 percent below the regular price. Retail stores selling the software in the U.S. include: Best Buy, Circuit City, CompUSA, Costco, Fry’s Electronics, Gamestop, Microcenter, OfficeDepot, OfficeMax, Sam’s Club, Staples and Target.
This is a special, noncommercial, educational-use-only offer for students and teachers on the Office XP software suite, specifically for homework and education outside the classroom. Office XP Standard for Students and Teachers includes full versions of the Word 2002 word processing program, Excel 2002 spreadsheet program, Outlook 2002 personal information manager and communications solution, and PowerPoint 2002 presentation graphics program.
In coming months, Office XP Standard for Students and Teachers will expand into select markets worldwide and will be available in an additional 15 languages.
Some teachers say that lower-cost software is critical for enabling as many students as possible to improve their education with computers. Anthony Salcedo, who teaches 7th and 8th grades at Mott Hall Intermediate School in New York Community School District No. 6., says he often looks for special software rebates and coupons, then shares that information with families. Located near New York’s Harlem district, Mott Hall School serves many low- to middle-income families.
Salcedo has seen tremendous growth in his students who use computers. “Access to technology is helping meet the needs of a new generation of digital kids, creating better writers and leading to more collaboration and more involvement in schoolwork,” he says.
One student who enjoys using computers at school and at home is 12-year-old Priyanka Adapa, a 7th-grade classmate of Tanner Hudson in Clovis, Calif. “Going online and using books makes it a challenge, but it’s fun,” Adapa says. “It will help me be better in school though — when you’re using tools like these, learning is easier.
“Now I know even more than my parents do about computers.”
Homework Goes Digital
Students today have more access than ever to computers. According to the same U.S. Census Bureau statistics, not only did 80 percent of school-age children use a computer at school in 2000, more than 66 percent of them had access to a computer at home.
The Census Bureau also reports that 68 percent of school-age students used the Internet for school research and assignments in 2000. A recent Gallup poll commissioned by Microsoft indicates that more than 80 percent of parents with school-age children believe a home PC will help their children do better in school and in life, and that it’s important that their children understand computers at an early age. Three of four parents say they encourage their children to use a computer at home on a regular basis, while 62 percent of parents said their family uses their computer for educational purposes such as homework.
Because many parents rely on Office programs at work, they are familiar with the tools their kids use in school and are better equipped to help them with schoolwork and homework assignments.
Observes Carole Smoot, Tanner and Priyanka’s 7th grade teacher at Alta Sierra Intermediate School, “The parents who have gotten their kids involved with computers tend to be more involved in their children’s education.”