(This is a cross-post from the Official Microsoft Blog).
Earlier this week we announced new low-cost devices with our partners to help close the technology gap in U.S. schools. Devices are just the first step to having true, significant impact in education, it also takes transformational learning methods. Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) is on an exciting journey to make this happen for students and we are thrilled to be part of it.
Today is a milestone day for Baltimore, as Superintendent Dr. Dallas Dance visits a number of classrooms to start the distribution of some of the devices that will be a part of the District's journey toward 1:1 classroom scenarios. We're working with Dr. Dance and his team of educators and staff to execute on the district's Students & Teachers Accessing Tomorrow (S.T.A.T.) initiative aimed to fundamentally shift teaching and learning. Together with Hewlett Packard and Daly Computers Inc. we're helping the district rollout 150,000 HP Elitebook 810 Revolve Windows 8.1 devices to all students and teachers over the next four years. Also, through our Student Advantage offer, the district which is already providing Office to faculty and staff, can now offer the productivity suite to students at no additional cost.
We know devices and technology are just the first step, it takes proper training and meaningful content to improve student outcomes. BCPS has developed a thoughtful approach to all of the critical components to an effective 1:1 initiative.
BCPS will provide ongoing training to educators to help them understand the conceptual changes that will take place in this modern learning environment and improve skills to increase student success.
Curriculum offices are currently collaborating on development of a framework and template for use in BCPS One, the new digital portal for curriculum and instruction, assessments, student data, reporting, and analysis.
We're helping BCPS by training educators through our Windows in the Classroom, Microsoft Innovative Educator, and Teacher Academies programs. Through our Microsoft Educators Network (formerly Partners in Learning Network) educators will have access to online resources and a network of more than 11 million educators from around the world with whom to collaborate and communicate best practices.
This upcoming school year will be an interesting and exciting one in Baltimore. Students in grades K, 1, 3, 4, and 5 at the district's ten specifically selected pilot schools, will begin the initial phase of this district-wide conversion to a 1:1 digital learning environment.
We look forward to working with BCPS step-by-step in this journey to meet its Blue Print 2.0, Theory of Action to equip every student with the critical 21st century skills needed to be globally competitive and ensure that every school has an equitable, effective digital learning environment. In the future, BCPS will serve as a model for how to effectively implement a transformative learning model and close the technology divide that exists across the nation between students who have access to technology and opportunities and those who do not.