Alabama Department of Education and Microsoft Announce New Statewide Technology Program

MONTGOMERY, Ala., and REDMOND, Wash. — Nov. 20, 2012 — The Alabama Department of Education and Microsoft Corp. today formally announced the official launch of the Alabama Microsoft IT Academy Program. This new initiative is focused on further developing the overall technology skills of students.

Alabama’s Microsoft IT Academy will provide opportunities for students to earn certifications in Microsoft product areas, such as Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word and Microsoft PowerPoint. This program will be available all high schools statewide and will provide students with the valuable 21st century technical skills they need to be successful in both college and their future careers.

Gov. Robert Bentley said, “Offering industry certification to Alabama’s students will help ensure growth in our workforce. Adding qualified individuals to local businesses will improve economic success.”

The Microsoft IT Academy Program will provide participating local school systems with access to Web-based instruction, software lab licenses, e-learning and official course materials. Course topics will range from computer basics to high-level programming and database management. Students will get hands-on experience with the latest Microsoft software and e-learning resources. This program will also allow students to earn professional-level workplace credentials and technology skills before they graduate from high school.

“Through this program, we can assure business and industry of a skill set in the area of technology and ensure students entering college are equipped with the technical skills to succeed academically,” State Superintendent of Education Tommy Bice said.

Pilot Year for This Initiative

Currently, one school in each school system throughout the state has been selected is participating in this program. Starting in the 2013–2014 school year, the Microsoft IT Academy Program will be expanded to additional schools.

“The Microsoft IT Academy Program makes education more relevant to students so they can move from learning to earning,” said Cameron Evans, chief technology officer for U.S. Education, Microsoft. “Alabama schools, teachers and students are now at an advantage in keeping pace with changing technology and curriculum demands. The program also gives students equal access to the IT skills and certification they need to both prepare for advanced studies and to improve career opportunities with higher earning potential.”

IT certifications are increasingly being recognized as valuable credentials nationwide. Many institutions in Alabama are requiring freshmen students to pass a computer proficiency exam. This initiative is important because it will help Alabama’s students be better prepared for their futures.

The Microsoft IT Academy Program works to bridge the gap between education and the real world of work by helping to equip students with the technology-based skills they’ll need for successful careers in today’s highly competitive job market.

Benefits of Program

Students will have access to official course materials that can help them prepare to acquire industry-recognized Microsoft Office Specialist, Microsoft Technology Associate or Microsoft Certified Professional certifications. The program also focuses on helping students become both college- and career-ready.

Benefits to Schools Participating in the Microsoft IT Academy

Microsoft IT Academy provides schools and educators the necessary training and resources they need to offer students instruction on the latest IT and business applications. Benefits include access to many programs, such as the following:

• IT Academy members’ websites.

• E-learning curriculum — with more than 1,500 online multimedia courses to choose from, including games, simulations and videos — to provide students with a hands-on learning experience.

• Microsoft Digital Literacy curriculum for students who are new to computing skills.

• Microsoft E-Reference Library, a searchable library of more than 600 Microsoft Press books. Each school will receive five subscriptions.

• Access to Microsoft DreamSpark, a program providing students and teachers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines with access to Microsoft software developer tools and platforms under the DreamSpark license designed for academic institutions.

Alabama is the seventh state in the U.S. to participate in this innovative program.

Those interested in learning more about Alabama’s new Microsoft IT Academy Program should contact Alabama State Department of Education Career and Technical Education Administrator Dawn Morrison at (334) 242-9109 or [email protected].

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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