by Bailey Monsees
Staff Writer, the Roundtable
Northern High School
This story appeared originally in the Roundtable, the school newspaper of Northern High School, which has partnered with the Durham VOICE.
On November 15, Raleigh education officials announced an agreement with Microsoft that will make North Carolina the first state to provide Microsoft IT academy online courses and instruction management tools to every public high school statewide.
The content of online courses provided through the Microsoft IT academy vary from basic skills, such as how to use the Microsoft
Office features, to more advanced skills such as programming different applications for Microsoft platforms.
Teachers are excited that the courses are becoming available.
“We do a lot of analysis where a spreadsheet would be a very useful tool to solve a problem and develop ideas of what is happening in the system,” Charles Payne, AP computer science/physics teacher, said. “Since these skills are generally not taught to some of the students, this program would be very beneficial in the classroom.”
This program will be available free to high school students who choose to take it. Those who complete the course will also be able to take certification tests free, which would normally cost $125 per exam. NC purchased this three-year program for $800,000 which is fairly cheap compared to the $9 million it would have cost to buy all the programs individually.
Microsoft is compromising with schools everywhere to make the Microsoft IT academy program available and increase the number of schools that are participating, which is around 9,000 as of 2010.
While the Microsoft IT academy program has several courses that will benefit those pursuing an IT career, there are also several courses that would benefit those with little or no computer knowledge.
“I think this program would be useful to everyone in any kind of work because they [include] communication skills that help students in everything from investigations to writing resumes,” Payne said.
Students understand the importance of this knowledge.
“A lot of people probably won’t be interested, but everyone needs to be able to function a computer, it will be extremely important later on in life,” freshman Elliott Holliday said.
The predicted popularity of the new course varies, but with the 50,000 to 60,000 NC students who would normally be in Computer Applications I being transferred into the Microsoft IT academy courses, students should begin to see the value of the course and appreciate it.
“I think this online course will be better because people will be able to work at their own pace and won’t have to relearn the stuff they already know,” sophomore Daniel Piccot said. “Most people probably won’t be that interested at first, but I do think that there are some people here at Northern that would take it and who definitely need to take it. Honestly, there were five people in my computer class that didn’t even know how to turn it on.”