Houston school district invests in the future of its community with Microsoft

REDMOND, Wash. June 3, 2014 — Houston Independent School District (HISD), the largest school district in Texas — seventh largest in the U.S. — has purchased Microsoft solutions to help prepare students for the digital world. With a large majority of students from low-income families, HISD is making strides in improving the broader community by transforming each student’s learning experience and providing technology to students who otherwise couldn’t afford it. Microsoft technology helps HISD improve student outcomes, solve privacy concerns and amend manageability worries that plague many other education technology implementations. Microsoft Office 365 and HP Elitebook Folio 9470m Ultrabooks running Windows are helping to support HISD’s more than 14,000 students and 1,200 teachers in the first phase of its PowerUp initiative to transform how teachers teach and how students learn.

“Educating our kids is important, but having our parents and community understand digital awareness is imperative to their success,” said Lenny Schad, chief information technology officer at Houston Independent School District. “The entire community is behind our PowerUp initiative; we’re partnering with restaurants, churches, YMCAs and apartment complexes to install wireless infrastructures so students can access the network from anywhere, since we know many of our students do not have Internet access at home. Meeting our goal is all about community participation.”

HISD is providing Office 365 to faculty and staff, and planning to roll it out to students at no additional cost using the Student Advantage benefit. This will help to improve communication and collaboration across the district. In addition to the Office productivity suite, as part of the PowerUp initiative, 65,000 high school students will receive HP laptops running Windows once the devices have been fully implemented over the next three years to further enhance personalized learning for students. Microsoft’s commitment to student data privacy and belief that student data should not be mined by second parties for ads helped HISD meet federal and state requirements, and feel confident the technology they are providing students uses sophisticated safety and security technologies and is easy to use virtually anywhere, anytime.

HISD has taken a unique and deliberate approach to its deployment. In the adoption year, the curriculum leads, campus leadership and professional development teams were first to receive the devices so they could implement technology strategies for the upcoming year. Three months later, all teachers received their devices and became familiar with them for a full semester before the district provided devices to all students. After the holiday break, the digital environment and culture had taken shape, and students at 11 high schools in the district were given the laptops, allowing them to engage in a more meaningful and 21st-century way for everyday learning.

“This deployment process was unique because teachers were given the opportunity to teach their students with just pen and paper during the first semester, and then see them the second half of the year on a digital platform,” Schad said. “Teachers tell us that students are blowing them away; artistic, writing and other skills come out of the woodwork when you allow students their own path to learning.”

After just one year of transformation, the district is optimistic about the future and is confident students are gaining new skills and experiencing new opportunities that will help them excel in their path from graduation into college or career.

“You can’t help but feel good when you see students’ faces as they open their laptops, or when you hear from parents and grandparents how grateful they are that this technology — something they’d never be able to afford on their own — has been provided, because it’s so important to their students’ futures and education,” Schad said.

Other districts in the Houston area using Microsoft solutions to improve student outcomes include Clear Creek Independent School District, Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District, and Klein Independent School District.

More information about how organizations are turning to Microsoft technology is available on the Microsoft Customer Spotlight newsroom.

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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