New Microsoft Classroom Curriculum Management Platform Engages Students, Involves Parents and Increases Teacher Productivity

ORLANDO, Fla., Jan. 11, 2001 — Microsoft Corp. today announced the international introduction of the Microsoft® Encarta® Class Server, a new curriculum management platform for grades K through 12 that combines high-quality educational content from leading publishers with anytime, any place access for teachers, students and parents. Unlike any other platform available to date, Encarta Class Server allows teachers to manage online five major teaching areas — curriculum standards, lesson plans, content, assignment and assessment. The product is scheduled to be available in April 2001 in the United States, United Kingdom, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.

Microsoft has worked with leading technology vendors and education content providers to create this curriculum management framework, based on the Windows® 2000 Server operating system, which can correlate with state and schools’ curriculum standards. Compaq Computer Corp. is one vendor that is providing support for Encarta Class Server, developing a complete software, hardware and services solution for the platform.

“From working closely with educators around the world, we have come to understand that teachers don’t have the resources they need to connect their daily curriculum with today’s classroom technology,”
said Dean Slawson, manager of the K-12 Product Unit at Microsoft.
“Encarta Class Server will improve how teachers manage their curriculum and assignments and how students learn. It will get parents more involved in their children’s learning so that every student can be more successful.”

Specifically, educators can locate, manipulate and create core curriculum materials using the secure Web-based environment provided by Encarta Class Server. School assignments can be organized by class or due date, and students can complete and turn in their assignments online. At the discretion of the school, parents can become more involved in their children’s education through access to their child’s assignments page, which includes upcoming homework, graded projects and teachers’ comments. Yet none of this creates more work for the teacher.

“With Encarta Class Server, students can complete assignments and parents can stay up to date and informed on their child’s education wherever they have access to the Internet,”
said Mark East, worldwide general manager of the Education Solutions Group at Microsoft.
“This is powerful technology that is part of the Microsoft Connected Learning Community vision to help schools build collaborative, content-rich and student-focused learning environments that are available any time and any place.”

High-Quality Content: Learning Resources

With Encarta Class Server, Microsoft has teamed with major textbook and education content publishers such as Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Reed Educational & Professional Publishing 2000, Times Learning Systems Private Ltd., Granada Learning, Plato Learning Inc., Barrett Kendall Publishing and The McGraw-Hill Companies to give educators access to Web-based Learning Resources that teachers can revise to match their individual instructional needs. Each Learning Resource can include a lesson plan, educational content and a learning assessment. Unlike other available Web-based content, Learning Resources are easily located, customized and shared, and they can correlate with state or locally adopted curricula, standards and assessments.

Educators can easily create or locate public and fee-based Learning Resources and download with a single mouse click. If permitted, Learning Resources can be shared with teachers locally or throughout the world via an Internet-based automatic content indexing service hosted by Microsoft.

Teacher Productivity

In addition to adapting high-quality, relevant content, Encarta Class Server allows teachers to efficiently manage assignments and electronically grade student work. Using Learning Resources, teachers can easily customize assignments for an entire class, a group of students or even a single student. Assignments can be accessed from home or school using a standard Web browser. With customizable rubrics and a built-in grading tool, teachers can provide automatic assessment and individual feedback on assignments to students. Encarta Class Server makes it possible for teachers to communicate easily with students and their parents about current assignments, work in progress, graded papers and learning outcomes.

Development of lesson plans and assignments is simplified using the Learning Resources Editor, which in digital format makes it easy to adapt curricula with current information to meet teachers’ specific requirements. Educators can use the wizards and templates in Encarta Class Server to easily create or adapt Learning Resources specific to the varying needs of students and their individual learning styles and can quickly find content correlating to textbooks and state standards from publishers’ Web sites.

“Based on testing in schools, Encarta Class Server has been very easy for teachers to learn and use,”
Slawson said.
“Once educators become familiar with the platform, time saved in searching for high-quality content and grading student work can be dedicated to other important areas.”

“Encarta Class Server can fundamentally shift how content is accessed and delivered in today’s classroom,”
said Chip Kimball, assistant superintendent of the Information Services Division in the Lake Washington School District, one of the early test sites.
“This program provides exciting new tools for teachers and students that will allow access to rich curricular resources, a more individualized experience for students and efficiencies for the classroom teacher. We are extremely excited about the benefits for our students and staff.”

Any Time, Any Place Access for Students, Parents and Teachers

The Encarta Class Server platform provides an easy connection between school and home. Wherever Internet or intranet access is available, whether by wire or on a wireless network, teachers, students and parents can connect to the Encarta Class Server using a standard Web browser.

Students can view, complete and hand in assignments electronically using their own secure Web page, as well as access past assignments, including graded work and teacher feedback. Parents may view their children’s work from a password-protected site that includes all the assigned and graded work with teachers’ comments.

Teachers may also work
when that is more convenient and connect with the server later. A unique synchronization feature preserves the latest changes in a central location for teacher access from multiple locations.

All individual information remains secure on the school’s local server based on Windows 2000 Server and SQL Server™
2000. Encarta Class Server can also be hosted at a district site, and application service providers may host the server outside the school as well.

Key Partners

Microsoft has worked with high-quality publishers and content providers to ensure that teachers have access to primary content that correlates to state standards, the same as most textbooks provide. To date, content provider partners include Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Barrett-Kendall Publishing, Reed Educational & Professional Publishing, Times Learning Systems Private, Plato Learning, Granada Learning and The McGraw-Hill Companies, and the list continues to grow. Encarta Class Server is an open content platform, and specifications to develop content to this platform can be found at .

Compaq has worked closely with Microsoft to develop a complete hardware, software and services solution for Encarta Class Server.

“Compaq is deeply committed to the K through 12 education market, and we see Microsoft’s Encarta Class Server as the primary means to deliver any time, any place access to critical education resources for teachers, students and parents,”
said George Warren, director of K-12 Education for Compaq.

In addition, Microsoft is working with leading education software companies like EdVISION Corp., Stagecast Software Inc. and to add authoring, data mining and accountability tools to the Encarta Class Server platform. With the Stagecast Creator Extension for Encarta Class Server, a teacher can embed an interactive Stagecast simulation into a learning module with a click of the mouse.

“We are delighted to be a part of this milestone,”
said Larry Tesler, CEO of Stagecast.
“Now teachers and publishers who develop Web-based curricula for the Encarta Class Server can bring lessons to life with simulations and learning games made with Stagecast Creator.”

EdVISION is the leader in Curriculum Designer software and computer adaptive assessment utilizing the Internet.

“EdVISION Corp. is proud to partner with the Encarta Class Server to provide accurate classroom assessments and home study guides to ensure academic success for all students,”
said Bill Tudor, CEO of EdVISION.

“Encarta Class Server allows educators to choose best-of-class content and testing from publishers,”
said Clayton Hoyle, president of
“Collectively, Microsoft and EDmin provide a learning improvement platform to fully utilize these resources. As a result, learning opportunities are increased while training costs are reduced. Encarta Class Server ushers in a new era of choice for educators.”

Encarta Class Server Availability

Educators can preview and test a version of Encarta Class Server at , a Web-based site hosted by Microsoft that allows both a tour and trial of the platform. A complete education guide for the deployment of Encarta Class Server in the classroom also is available on the site. Encarta Class Server and education licenses is scheduled to be available to educators in April 2001, and beta trials will be running over the next few months in the United States, United Kingdom, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies 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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