Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Microsoft Office 365 Available for SPS Staff and Students

I'm not sure how to view this news but if you have a student with an smart phone, tablet or computer, but I thought parents might want to know this is a possibility for their student. (You may or may not want your child to download Office 365 on his/her devices.)

Through an enterprise agreement with Microsoft, Seattle Public Schools is now able to provide Office 365 services to students and staff. The first wave of this adoption includes:
  • Office ProPlus for staff and students
    • Download Microsoft Office on up to 5 personal devices
  • OneDrive for Business for staff
    • Collaborate with colleagues and share documents online
To get to Office 365, enter office.seattleschools.org in a web browser. Login by entering your SPS username@seattleschools.org and SPS password.

Click on the links below to learn more, access frequently asked questions (FAQs) and training resources for these services.


mirmac1 said...

Way to gain market share!

dan dempsey said...

What is "an enterprise agreement"?

Did the SPS pay Microsoft for this?

Anonymous said...

An "enterprise agreement" is exactly what it sounds like - a licensing agreement between two large enterprises (SSD and Microsoft). SSD has understandably had an "enterprise agreement" for MS Office licenses for years (schools and support staff) as would most enterprises anywhere near SSD's size (public or private).

Microsoft began offering MS Office for free to students 12/1/2013 via districts that already had licensing agreements with Microsoft (as SSD and most districts across the nation). It took Seattle until now to actually offer it to students (talk about achievement gap and access... SSD should have been one of the early adopters IMHO as many SSD students have been unable to afford MS Office historically ).

Yes, a slightly modified agreement but NO extra cost as numerous press releases noted when MS announced it around October 2013. From what I've heard/read it's assumed that it was likely in response to Google docs being free, although it was publicly announced as part of a White House initiative. https://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/education/k-12/connected

In addition to providing increased consistency for students/teachers of which version of MS Office documents are being used, this offer will greatly level the playing field as now lower-income students who often rely on donated computers can use MS Office.

I don't really agree with a lot of Gates Foundation educational activities, and some educators have not wanted this because of the Gates/MS connection, but MS Office is the industry standard and so this offer by MS ultimately is a great equity opportunity tool. As educators we would be short-sighted to bash it just because it's Gates or a huge corporation... but asking the questions is fair and wise.


dan dempsey said...

Dear Finally,

Thanks for the explanation.

Anonymous said...

What are you a hack for MS now?

We have had free access to software for 10 years, you just have to know where to go.


Anonymous said...

"level the playing field"

This broken record and stale cliche needs to be permanently banned.


mirmac1 said...

I would prefer the expansion of "open-document format" that works with Office and other software suites.

Anonymous said...

Get 'em hooked while they're young. Where have I heard that before? What industry does that remind me of? WSDWG

Anonymous said...

All of you criticizing the program use no MS products in any aspect of your lives, then, right?

This program would have been a godsend for a young relative of mine who had only a donated computer to work on and not a cent to buy any additional software. Open courseware would not have been acceptable in his school Fortunately, his cousins and aunts were able to get him what he needed.

My kid knows several fellow students who would not be able to afford new software. She's a Google doc fan, her sister prefers Macs. But this program would really help a lot of families, I would think. You can sometimes find used or donated computers, but not so much the software.

Just Saying

Ragweed said...

Is this the actual Microsoft 365 software on your computer, or is it a cloud version?

Anonymous said...

Mirmac, shouldn't software developers be accorded the same respect that teachers get? Free software is exactly what you pay for... same as free teachers, (or cheap teachers). If you want professional quality, you have to pay for it. Reduced price software is a great solution. I'm really glad Ms is offering it.


Anonymous said...

Ragweed - this is the actual 365/2013 version (which includes Cloud components). When students graduate they have a few months to buy the 4-year college version for $79 to keep it fully functional.

As most companies use MS Office, small and large, I do believe it is best for our students to have access to it instead of reduced-capability lesser used open source software. Admittedly I've helped load Open Office on students laptops in the past and/or sent them the links for home desktops, but by no means is there the same capabilities and/or career training/exposure potential with open source software.

Some companies I worked for prior to teaching complained repeatedly about the cost of MS software, but they didn't dare go to other less effective options... although one admittedly was using illegally copied versions of Windows and Office at times when that was still relatively easy to do.

Pickles, obviously the entire Seattle School District didn't just not "know where to go" to get all this free software? Individually some student families do have personal contacts to occasionally get free or reduced price software (ex. parents working for UW, county employees, family members/friends working for MS). Relying on personal networks is not an equitable way to provide industry-standard software to all students.

Many other software companies are also starting to offer their software for free or greatly reduced prices to education - they've made plenty off of education in the past and so it's about time (my view). I'd like to see Adobe start offering some of their professional software like Acrobat Pro and Dreamweaver for free to students/schools.


Anonymous said...

"same as free teachers, (or cheap teachers)"

I had to fish my dentures out of the septic tank on this one!

Look if you don't like a prosperous amount of days off work or top notch heath benefits. If you don't like a nice pension plan or the free Washington dental service plan, then QUIT. No other job in this area will give you all that, because in case you haven't checked those types of benefits have disappeared from private sector jobs.

Get real!

Anonymous said...

Get Real. Seriously. Are you the anti-SPED (real SPED), anti immigrant, anti-teacher poster we all know and love? Lots of jobs pay for insurance. And SPS insurance isn't particularly generous. Did you know part time teachers get "part time" insurance? I guess they only get sick "part time". Just saying, we should expect to pay for professional software. Our students should get to use professional software. And, it's great that Microsoft provides it for FREE. Google docs is OK, but still pretty lame. FREE software will never be professional quality and they've had decades to "improve" it. And, we should expect to pay for teachers too. Duh.


Anonymous said...

The Washington dental service plan isn't free. Without checking last month's paycheck breakdown for each health component (medical, dental, vision) I can tell you that I pay $497 per month towards my own health insurance - that is without kids and one of the less expensive plans as I've been lucky health wise and am not overly picky about doctors as I've found most knowledgeable and pleasant.

When I left industry just over a decade ago I was paying $12/month. Admittedly health insurance has skyrocketed, and that was a pretty good company benefits-wise, but I just had to respond to the (off-topic, sorry) erroneous comment about my supposed "free dental care".

In all fairness I do appreciate the extra time off (even though I have worked or taught most summers) as a trade-off for the higher medical/dental/vision insurance expense. I grant that point about time-off to my still-in-industry friends who are constantly surprised (when the topic comes up) that I pay much more in insurance than they do.

Oh, and in terms of the pension, 2 of my 3 last employers had matching 401(k) plans so that too isn't totally cut and dry.

Back to the theme, we should have overall decent funding to pay for good teachers (benefits mix is different than industry) and to pay for professional software/computers to support our teaching as much as software/computer investments by my pre-teaching employers supported the roles I performed for them... it just makes good sense.

SPS Teacher

Anonymous said...

And, the SPS dental/vision plan isn't optional. You have to sign up for it, like it or not, and pay for it, even if you already have another plan. How's that for sucking, Get Real? There's a reason people don't like you, and it's not because you are an effective advocate. You aren't.


dw said...

Google docs is OK, but still pretty lame. FREE software will never be professional quality and they've had decades to "improve" it.

1) Decades? Really? It has only been in existence for about 9 years, so you're clearly off base. What you could have said is that browser-based software will never measure up against native software.

2) GoogleDocs is not free. You sell a little piece of yourself whenever you use it. That's waaay too expensive for me. Remember the saying: If you're not paying for it, YOU are the product. I don't know who said it first, but those are sage words.


this is the actual 365/2013 version (which includes Cloud components)

Does this require students creating microsoft subscription accounts? AFAIK, 365 requires that the software connects to the internet to install and intermittently after that, otherwise it enters a (severely) "reduced functionality" mode. Very troublesome in some scenarios.

How does their ToS work for kids under age 13? Cloud-based services' ToS are often very difficult to understand, and virtually all of them involve the service providers reading each and every word you (or your child) write in each and every document, marrying the data to you (or your child) as a real-world individual, and saving that analysis forever. Something everyone should consider very carefully, especially for kids, and yet few do.

Anonymous said...


I'm more aware/interested than most teachers but am not one of the IT staff... hopefully my representation is fairly accurate.

That said, when saying it's the real Office 365 I was thinking primarily of the programs students use which is Word, PowerPoint and some Excel. More correctly I should have said the components being implemented are the real Office 365 components (not limited versions). Students are not being given email accounts, although it appears that Outlook is part of the suite they can download so depending upon the email service they use they may be able to use the Outlook organizational tools to manage their email. (I have not yet seen any students use Outlook yet)

Students do not create the MS subscription accounts - the district does (ex. if my student logon is abc_fmlast for ABC school then my district-managed logon is abc_fmlast@seattleschools.org).

OneDrive for student data storage is not yet turned on. The existing Fusion pages provide students with 15MB of space (not much). Students can store between 100MB-500MB depending upon the school on the school server, but students don't have access to that offsite.

As far as I'm aware Google and Yahoo are much worse about reading emails and in turn targeting ads (not yet sure how well/if Outlook.com/Bing coordinate), but I wouldn't put it past any of the big companies to push this envelope to where most of us would have an issue. I'm reasonably certain that Outlook is just the email reader and thus MS is unable to read any district staff emails, for example, considering FERPA, etc.

The post SSD reduced functionality, as I understand it, means students still have access to their files. However, they will not have access to the more advanced features (ex. bibliography tools in Word, animation in PowerPoint, Pivot Tables in Excel) for future editing post-SSD unless they get a college or personal/family license activated.


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