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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Microsoft, Washington state partner to offer free IT courses

Microsoft Corp. has expanded its online technology training program so that people can take courses for free through more than 380 public libraries.

The new education partnership between one of the Northwest’s major tech companies and Washington state was announced Wednesday.

During a media event at Spokane’s downtown library, Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman said the partnership with Microsoft will make 250 online courses available and allow participants to take those courses at their own pace.

The courses are all part of Microsoft IT Academy, the Redmond company’s online training program.

Washington’s Legislature authorized $1.5 million in the last session to cover the costs of deploying the courses to public, community, technical college and tribal libraries. Microsoft already made the courses available to state high schools for free.

The IT Academy courses cover topics ranging from basic Web navigation, document management and Internet searching to more advanced courses for programming, database development and Web application integration. Many of the courses can be used to earn technology certification and develop skills needed to broaden career options.

Rand Simmons, Washington’s chief librarian, said Wednesday the program makes Washington the first state to offer IT Academy training free to both public schools and public libraries.

“This cutting-edge idea will have the ability to touch every community in our state and help average people, who often need IT skills, to qualify for family-wage jobs,” Simmons said.

The program allows individuals to take the IT courses at public library computers or at home via the Internet.

Participants who want to take the courses at home or elsewhere must first have a public library account and also create a Microsoft email account.

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