Washington State Library Partners with Microsoft to Bridge the Digital Divide

Free online courses will help the state’s citizens prepare for careers in technology.

The STEM gap doesn’t exist just in schools; it’s a very real problem for working adults, too.

While some Americans need professional certifications to grow their careers, others need basic computer training to prepare for techcentric jobs. A new partnership between Microsoft and the Washington State Library — known as Washington Microsoft IT Academy (ITA) — means Washington residents will have access to both.

The Washington Microsoft IT Academy (ITA) will provide the people of Washington access without charge to a wide range of Microsoft online courses and learning resources through their local public, community college, or tribal libraries.

The IT Academy will also be available through the Washington State Library institutional branches. It is currently available through school districts, a project administered by the Office of Public Instruction. Course certification is also available but will need to be done by those taking the courses.

The ubiquity of libraries throughout the state, estimated at 472 outlets, and the recognized nature of libraries to connect to their communities to improve the lives of citizens, brings credence to this project model. The Washington State Library is a leader and facilitator among the library community and has decades of experience in managing statewide projects.

In all, there will be 250 courses and three levels offered:

  1. Digital literacy, for those who need basic skills, such as using a mouse or sending emails
  2. E-learning courses that support Microsoft Office suites
  3. Courses leading to professional technology certifications

In addition to supplying a critical service to its citizens, the state of Washington is proving that libraries are still incredibly useful in our digital world. While paper books may not be central to education in the future, access to information will always be vital.

Previously, the state of Washington rolled out the Microsoft IT Academy in its public school system. The video below highlights some of the benefits.


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Nov 21 2013