Best Technology Practices for School Districts in Washington State
Free Software Licenses for K-12 Schools
Four terrific software packages for teachers and students that make it possible to connect, investigate, and visualize complex data also promote the 21st century skill set — creativity, communication, collaboration, analysis, critical thinking and problem solving. OSPI’s public-private partnerships with Google, ESRI and Microsoft help teachers create learning environments that engage students with industry-standard technologies — the systems and platforms at work today in science, research, engineering and finance.
Geographical Information System (GIS) Software
ESRI offers free licenses for Washington state K-12 schools that want to us GIS software for instruction. Particularly valuable for any problem with a spatial element, GIS software makes it possible to visualize, question and interpret data in ways that bring relationships, patterns and trends to light. Educators use this versatile and visually exciting software to help students understand geography, earth science, social studies, math, language arts and more.
Schools take advantage of free educational lab licenses for
SketchUp Pro, the popular 3D modeling software. Free to K-12 public and private schools, K-12 teachers use SketchUp Pro to
strengthen core curricula with realistic visualizations. Contact
Dennis Small, (360) 725-6435 for
We also recommend another free download — Google Earth — which makes it possible to model real-world buildings and sites and locate them geographically. The offer is open to all Washington state schools and districts that make use of the licensing program administered through OSPI. SketchUp Pro licenses are good for three years, at which point districts can reapply.
Google Apps for K-12 Education
Google offers digital collaboration and communication tools with no hardware to maintain or software to install, no ads and no cost for schools. Across Washington today, multiple districts have made the move to Google’s productivity and communications package. The savings are substantial and come with the advantage of a streamlined, integrated platform for Web-based applications:
- Email with 7+ GBs of storage. Archiving, too at a 66 percent discount.
- Calendar application that manage schedules and can reserve lab rooms or laptop carts.
- Web-based software — word processing, spreadsheet, Web site design and presentation — accessible from any computer that support anywhere, anytime learning.
- Sharing and privacy controls include domain-level security by Postini, email filters and customized policies for different email groups.
Office 365 for Education
Free, powerful and built for education — Office 365 for Education is a suite of Microsoft services and applications designed for communication, collaboration, research and analysis. Office 365
scales up easily as districts bring schools online. So, too, the
cost efficiencies spiral upward as administrators take advantage of the robust productivity software that comes with the package. This is software that works toward graduation alongside K-12 students. As they communicate with peers, write, analyze data and create presentations, students
master the tools that build a competitive edge for college and career.
Competitive pricing on technology proven to support research-based instructional strategies is a best practice for the K-12 sector and just one of the advantages of the Digital Edge purchasing program. For the past eight years, educators across Washington have depended on Digital Edge to source equipment for the classroom saving, on average, 17 percent off retail prices.
Flexible, negotiable pricing is a key driver in the success of this program. Administrators know that when they need to purchase more than a single unit or evaluating different options, Digital Edge suppliers are able to
optimize the pricing for tight school budgets.
IT Contracts & Purchasing
The Department of Enterprise Services (DES) takes down the price and time
administrators and tech directors spend to keep network infrastructure
up-to-date and available. Web-based applications that support teaching
and learning, communications systems, data center hosting and storage, network
technology plus security services critical to protect sensitive data are
available online through DES — well priced and coupled with expert tech support.
Washington State Information Processing Cooperative (WSIPC)
Uniquely suited to deliver high quality IT solutions to Washington schools, WSIPC is a public agency that provides affordable data management services and a portfolio of cost-effective, education-friendly productivity applications. The organization holds the Microsoft School Agreement, which takes advantage of the economies of scale to offer a software package customized for K-12 schools. More than 280 districts turn to WSIPC for application development and maintenance bundled with affordable volume licensing agreements. These applications are custom-built and modified regularly to integrate state reporting requirements.
Washington Learning Source (WLS)
As a one-stop-shop for competitively priced technology, instructional support software, online learning courseware, and Web-based tutorials and services, WLS creates a sizeable savings in time and money for districts and schools. Based on the familiar shopping cart Web format, district purchasing staff select from a wide range of products and services that have already been competitively bid and customized for Washington’s K-12 sector. Developed by staff in the state’s Educational Technology Support Center program, the Washington Learning Source has become a highly successful conduit for tech integration solutions that support better teaching and assessment.
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