Microsoft is making yet another push into the classroom. But this time, it’s using the buddy system, today announcing a high-profile partnership with education technology standard-bearer PowerSchool.
PowerSchool has a prominent, cloud-based K-12 student information system for school districts that handles administration of data from student attendance to grades. More recently, PowerSchool has added its Unified Classroom product to the mix, which layers on classroom management plus learning and assessment tools behind a dashboard for teachers, students and parents.
As part of the new partnership, Microsoft says its Office 365 products will be embedded into Unified Classroom, including OneDrive, OneNote, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote Class Notebook. At the same time, PowerSchool will emphasize its use of Microsoft’s Azure cloud infrastructure to deliver its products to schools and districts.
This isn’t the first time the two companies have worked together, but it’s been at a less-formal level for light integration of PowerSchool’s products with Microsoft’s OneNote and School Data Sync. A Microsoft spokesperson tells GeekWire that some of PowerSchool’s products, notably those PowerSchool picked up through acquisition, already use Azure. But the new, official partnership appears to deepen the relationship across more products and services.
For its part, PowerSchool is no startup. It marked 20 years in business last August, and was once owned by Apple and later by education publishing’s Pearson. In 2015 it was acquired by Vista Equity Partners, has made several acquisitions of its own since, and now claims its products reach 30 million students in North America.
Microsoft’s new partnership with PowerSchool could conceivably give both a stronger competitive position against Google, which is wildly popular in schools with its free G Suite for Education productivity and communications products and Google Classroom management tool.