Teachers Give High Marks to New School Curriculum Management Platform From Microsoft

REDMOND, Wash., April 2, 2001 — Encarta® Class Server, the first Microsoft® software developed specifically for the education community, debuts today and is available to customers in the United States, United Kingdom, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand. Reviews from more than 7,000 educators and 25 beta test schools worldwide confirm that the Web-based platform increases student involvement and success in schoolwork, enables one-on-one teacher-student instruction and increases parental involvement without further burdening the teacher – all issues in the current national debate on education.

“Since our initial announcement to educators in January, commitment to this platform from education content providers has doubled, with 16 companies on board to provide high-quality, standards-aligned, digital content,”
said Mark East, worldwide general manager of the Education Solutions Group at Microsoft Corp.
“Encarta Class Server 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.”

Encarta Class Server – Overview

The new curriculum management platform for grades K through 12 combines high-quality educational content from leading publishers with access any time, anyplace for teachers, students and parents. Unlike any other platform available, Encarta Class Server allows teachers to manage online five major teaching areas: curriculum standards, lesson plans, content, assignment and assessment. From PCs or Web-enabled devices wherever Internet or intranet access is available, students can view assignments, complete schoolwork online and review past assignments, including graded work (at the teacher’s discretion), from a password-protected site. Parents can also be given their own password to see their children’s assignments, work in progress, results and graded papers.

Teachers who have deployed the platform are finding increased productivity and student success in schoolwork with the help of these features.

“Encarta Class Server has allowed my students to work in a sophisticated world that promotes excellence and creativity,”
said Joe Gotchy, 10th-grade social studies teacher at Thomas Jefferson High School in Federal Way, Wash.
“The platform allows me to use pre-existing as well as new lessons and place them on our server so my students can access, complete and submit them and receive high-quality evaluation in a timely manner. The system is clean, seamless and quite often paperless. Rubrics, scoring and parent access will help my students attain a greater degree of success in their schoolwork.”

Student Involvement

Teachers have found that Encarta Class Server helps create an environment that enlists students in their own learning experience.
“For my students to learn as much as they did in just one day with this platform, they would have had to have a stack of books in front of them – and that is not engaging,”
said Jon Holman, third- and fourth-grade teacher at Benjamin Rush Elementary School in Redmond, Wash., on using Encarta Class Server for help in his science lessons.
“If I give them the information in a lecture, it goes in one ear and out the other, but helping my students find the information on their own, as is possible with Encarta Class Server, is key to their involvement and overall retention.”

Teacher Productivity

Encarta Class Server was developed in response to a need that teachers worldwide have expressed: the ability to connect their daily curriculum with today’s classroom technology. With digital content provided by major textbook and education content publishers, educators have 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. Educators can easily create or locate public and fee-based Learning Resources and download them with a single mouse click.

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.

Aidan McCarthy, director of information and learning technologies at John Paul College in Brisbane, Australia, a 2,000 notebook-computer school and early adopter of Encarta Class Server, confirmed that
“individualized learning is no longer a theoretical goal, but is now a part of the classroom with the ability to assign a resource to a whole class, a group of classes, groups of students in a team, or even one individual student.”

All individual information remains secure on the school’s local server based on Windows® 2000 Server and Microsoft 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 Industry Partners

Microsoft has worked with high-quality publishers and content providers to ensure that teachers have access to primary content that can correlate with states’ and schools’ curriculum standards, as most textbooks provide. To date, content provider partners from the United States, the United Kingdom, Singapore and Australia include Barrett-Kendall Publishing; Holt, Rinehart and Winston; McGraw-Hill Education; PLATO Learning Inc.; Granada Learning; Reed Educational & Professional Publishing; Heinemann Australia; Systems Integrated Research Plc; Osprey Publishing Ltd.; Crocodile Clips Ltd.; Spark Learning Ltd.; AIRCOM Education and Training; LJ Group; Times Publishing Ltd.; DAIICHI Media Pte Ltd.; and Wordsworth Editions Ltd.

Microsoft has also worked with leading technology vendors, such as Compaq Computer Corp., to develop a complete hardware, software and services solution for Encarta Class Server. Other service providers include Viglen Ltd., the fastest-growing supplier of ICT solutions to schools in the United Kingdom, and Iverson Computer Associates in Singapore.

In addition, Microsoft is working with leading education software companies such as EdVISION Corp., Stagecast Software Inc., RM plc and EDmin.com 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. EdVISION’s Assessment Connection delivers a powerful resource to Encarta Class Server for creating class assessments and study guides with more than 12,900 valid and reliable test questions measuring over 900 math, language arts, reading and science skills. By integrating EDmin.com’s Virtual EDucation with Encarta Class Server, educators can effectively manage data and instructional practices to achieve continuous improvement.

Encarta Class Server Availability

For more information and to acquire Encarta Class Server, educators can contact their local Microsoft Authorized Education Reseller. To find a local reseller, they can visit http://www.microsoft.com/education/. Educators also can preview and test a version of Encarta Class Server at http://ecs.msn.com/, 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 is available on the site.

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.

Microsoft, Encarta and Windows are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

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