Microsoft Accelerates Online Learning With Support for eLearning Specification

NEW ORLEANS, Feb. 8, 2000 — Microsoft Corp. and leaders of the eLearning community today announced support for Learning Resource Interchange (LRN), the first commercial implementation of the Instructional Management Systems (IMS) Content and Management Systems Specification developed by the eLearning industry and the IMS Global Learning Consortium. LRN is an XML-based schema that defines course content, allowing organizations and eLearning providers to easily create and manage compatible online learning content. LRN helps customers maximize their investment in eLearning by enabling a wider range of interoperable content and applications than currently exists today.

In a keynote address at its Technology Week conference for training professionals, Microsoft also announced the first release of the LRN Toolkit, which provides content and technology partners with the resources to quickly create LRN-compatible content and applications, increasing the viability of online learning for knowledge workers.

“Microsoft is committed to helping make eLearning more viable for customers with standards-based means of fostering knowledge sharing,”
said Robert Stewart, general manager of the Microsoft Official Curriculum Group.
“The LRN Toolkit and Microsoft® LRN-based content are designed to give customers and partners a head start in creating exchangeable online learning content.”

Industry Leaders Announce Support for LRN

A number of leading eLearning companies today announced support for LRN. These include content developers such as The Forum Corp., NETg and SmartForce, as well as eLearning platform and services companies such as, Cambridge Technology Partners, Centra Software Inc., Inc., DigitalThink Inc.,,, Information Management Group (IMG), IntraLearn Software Corp., KnowledgePool, Pinnacle Multimedia, SmartForce, Southrock and

Microsoft also announced that online learning content from Microsoft Press® , Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN TM ) and Microsoft Official Curriculum would support LRN in all forthcoming content.

“For the first time, there is truly an opportunity to drive growth and development of the eLearning industry by implementing specifications,”
said Greg Priest, president and CEO of SmartForce (Nasdaq
), a leading eLearning solutions provider.
“Our decision to implement LRN in our eLearning offerings will help our customers achieve better learning results and help us drive SmartForce’s business.”

Single Specification Benefits Online Learning Industry and Customers

The IMS Content and Management Systems Specification is the result of industrywide contributions from vendors, customers and academics working to develop an open specification for facilitating information exchange in online learning. The LRN implementation of the IMS specification accelerates the adoption of eLearning by making it easier to create, customize and update online learning content and applications.

“The distributed learning industry is rapidly removing the limits of time and distance,”
said Ed Walker, chief executive officer of the IMS Global Learning Consortium.
“Support for LRN and the IMS Content and Management Systems Specification will allow us to realize the eLearning vision of interoperable content, tools and services by removing technological barriers to an expanded learning marketplace.”

Microsoft Releases LRN Toolkit and New LRN-Based Content

To provide content and technology partners with the information and tools required to create LRN-compatible products and content, Microsoft has released the LRN Toolkit 1.0. With it, organizations can easily create, edit and update content structure using any standard XML editor, including Microsoft Office. The toolkit is available now and includes the LRN Viewer, LRN Validator and LRN Samples, including two LRN-compatible eBooks from Microsoft Press and an MSDN developer course on Windows® 2000.

“Microsoft’s implementation of the IMS specification in LRN is a huge step toward the acceptance of standards across the eLearning marketplace,”
said Brad Crain, vice president and general manager of Enterprise Products at, a leading provider of eLearning solutions.
“The support for LRN and the IMS specification in our eLearning solutions provides our customers with an immediate benefit by enabling them to build and deploy interoperable eLearning content.”

Pricing and Availability

The Microsoft LRN Toolkit 1.0 is available for free* download at . Additional information on the IMS Content Package Specification can be found at http://www. .

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software – any time, any place and on any device.

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