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Washington State Library Microsoft Imagine Academy

From automation and artificial intelligence to environmental issues and the rise of the gig economy, the way we work is transforming.  With these changes come new jobs, new skill sets, and new industries that our workforce, educators, and government must respond to in order for Washington State to stay competitive in the global economy.  As one of Washington’s largest employers and a global industry leader in information technology Microsoft is in a unique position to provide solutions at both ends of the IT workforce development spectrum – labor and industry.

The Microsoft Imagine Academy provides Learning Pathways for the most in-demand, future-forward IT careers with resources to build skills and knowledge that prepare learners for industry-recognized certifications that lead to education credits and living-wage employment. 

The Washington State Library (WSL), a division of the Office of the Secretary of State, funds a statewide subscription to the Microsoft Imagine Academy, underwritten by discounts from Microsoft, and made possible through a special Legislative appropriation.  Imagine Academy resources are provided through the WSL’s Central Library, and facilitated by our 11 Institutional and Correctional Center Libraries and Washington Talking Book & Braille library, as well as public and tribal libraries, and community and technical colleges across the state, ensuring easy, local access and support for all Washingtonians.

Access the Microsoft Imagine Academy through the Washington State Library’s website; you will be asked to self-attest that you reside or work in Washington State before gaining access.

Imagine Academy delivers resources for learners of all ages to explore 4 areas of study identified by industry experts as leading to high-demand, future-ready employability.  The Learning Pathways for these are:

  • Productivity - Proficiency with Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook) applications is the 3rd most requested job skillset, across all occupations and industries.  This Learning Pathway builds skills that help students and workers improve their productivity in the classroom and on the job.  All courses prepare for Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certification, the best way to validate skills for college credit and employability.
  • Computer Science - Microsoft is invested in improving computer science awareness and skills. The Computer Science Learning Pathway provides curriculum to expose students, jobseekers, career-changers, employees, and technology hobbyists to a variety of coding, game building, and programming skills.
  • Data Science - Microsoft is invested in improving data science awareness and skills that lead to employability in this new field.  Beginning with basic skills in data analysis using Excel and database fundamentals, moving on to more intermediate and advanced concepts and applied skills such as working with non-relational data, data visualization, and finally exploring data science and machine learning, the Data Science Learning Path is a great runway for those wishing to go on to pursue more advanced levels of study and professional certification.
  • IT Infrastructure - In this learning path, Microsoft offers resources to expose learners to fundamental skills related to managing infrastructure for the Cloud, clients and mobile devices, and Office 365.  Curriculum includes Windows Operating Systems, Servers, Networking, Security, Cloud Platform and Mobility and Devices.  The IT Infrastructure Learning Path will continue to evolve as the portfolio is expanded to include intermediate and more advanced curriculum.

Selected Washington public and tribal libraries, and community/technical colleges also offer Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS)Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA)Microsoft Certified Educator (MCE) certifications.  A more limited number of public and tribal libraries also offer free Quickbooks, Adobe, and IC3 digital literacy certification.  Certification exams are free for Washington residents and employees, although some may charge a proctoring fee of up to $30 per exam.  Find an authorized testing center near you; contact the testing center directly for information on specific fees and scheduling information.

Program Goals

  • Help Washington citizens attain industry-recognized Microsoft Office and IT skills and certifications to enable them to be competitive in the rapidly evolving 21st century workplace.
  • Support attainment of statewide economic development objectives, capitalize on job and workforce demands, and prepare the next generation Washington workforce for IT/STEM and IT-infused jobs across industry sectors.
  • Create a sustainable long-term learning framework for the libraries of Washington that benefits library patrons, librarians, library staff members, and the broader community while delivering measurable learning outcomes.
  • Support Washington leadership in innovative IT education reform.
  • Ensure equality of access for all Washington library branches regardless of location, size, or economic status.
  • Leverage existing Washington IT curriculum resources with an additional and enhanced IT education solution that is meaningful and relevant by mapping to industry-recognized Microsoft skills standards and certifications that align to the requirements of the workplace.
  • Promote a foundation for lifelong learning—the ability to adapt and upgrade individual skills in a rapidly changing world—by providing the building blocks of essential skills all students and citizens require to be active, lifelong learners in a technology intensive environment, and to compete and be at the forefront of the 21st-century global economic system.
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Funded in part by the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA).