Microsoft, DirecTV team on school makeovers

The effort, dubbed "rock, paper, and scissors," is part of a broader partnership aimed at providing educational content and support for Latin America.

MIAMI--You've heard of extreme makeovers and then home makeovers. Get ready for school makeovers.

Microsoft and DirecTV announced a partnership on Thursday that will see the two companies, among other things, revamping schools in Miami and Latin America and then documenting their progress in a TV show.

The effort, dubbed Piedra, Papel y Tijera (Rock, Paper and Scissors), will see a number of schools and educational centers in Latin America outfitted with the latest technology. DirecTV will film the transitions and air the documentaries throughout Latin America on channel 999. Although the focus is on Latin America, Microsoft and DirecTV are starting with a pilot school here in Miami.

In addition to giving schools a makeover, DirecTV, Microsoft, and the Discovery Channel are also working on a program called Escuela+ that will see educational programs beamed to participating schools via satellite, in some cases being watched live and in other cases stored on digital video recorders. One of the programs, Microsoft Help Desk, will train teachers and students how to provide technical support to their own computer labs. It began as a pilot program in January with 21 schools in Puerto Rico, with the effort now expanding to Chile, Colombia, and Peru.

Speaking at a press conference, DirecTV Senior Vice President Jacopo Bracco said that his company will enable the content to reach further into Latin America given its satellite technology.

"This is the advantage we provide," he said. "That's our strength."

It's not the first tie-up between the two companies. Two years ago, Microsoft and DirecTV announced plans to bring DirecTV and Windows Media Center closer together. A spec sheet for a product that tied the two was reportedly shown at CES, but no products have yet come to market .

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    During her years at CNET News, Ina Fried has changed beats several times, changed genders once, and covered both of the Pirates of Silicon Valley. These days, most of her attention is focused on Microsoft. E-mail Ina.

     

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