CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA., May 19, 2004 — The University of Virginia, Thomson Learning, a part of The Thomson Corporation (NYSE: TOC; TSX: TOC), and Microsoft Corp. announce a groundbreaking collaboration to develop and deliver digital course material and tools that will help instructors better serve their students and help those students learn and retain more. The pilot project, involving the university’s College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, will bring rich digital content and learning applications to Tablet PCs. It will run for at least two semesters beginning in fall 2004 and will reach more than 400 students each semester. The courses in the project are biochemistry, psychology and statistics.
The project draws on Thomson’s rich library of digital content and learning applications and will be brought to students through Microsoft®
software and Tablet PC hardware. The University of Virginia, with a strong reputation for adopting advanced technologies to improve education, provides the ideal environment in which to pilot the program.
“As the academic environment continues to evolve significantly from the perspective of how students learn, how faculties teach and how course materials are produced and used, our goal is to institute pilots like this to explore and expand how more traditional approaches might be reinvented to better serve our students,” said Edward L. Ayers, Dean of Arts and Sciences at UVa. “In this instance, with the help of Microsoft and Thomson Learning, students will have immediate access to course content whether in the classroom, lab, dorm room or other locations on campus.”
The three partners entered into the agreement based on a convergence of technical and pedagogical trends on college campuses. Wireless expansion on campuses has been driven by the decreasing cost of wireless networks and the rising expectations of students and faculty for such access. All classrooms at the University of Virginia have access to both wired and wireless Internet, making it one of the leading public institutions in providing state-of-the-art technical infrastructure for faculty and students.
A digital instructional solution for some or all of a course will be developed by Thomson Learning, in consultation with university faculty and Microsoft, and delivered to students using Tablet PCs running Microsoft Windows®
XP Tablet PC Edition software and OneNote (TM) , which will allow students to take digital notes anywhere on the page. Students will be able to collaborate with each other and communicate digitally with their instructor in real time on campus and in wireless classrooms. Expected outcomes of the project are three-fold: improved student learning, enhanced faculty productivity based on easier integration of technology into instruction, and a better understanding of how digital materials can be designed effectively.
“This program is part of our ongoing effort to develop new learning materials to meet the evolving needs of students and faculty,” said Ronald Dunn, CEO, Thomson Learning, Academic Group. “In this project, the digital learning environment will move to center stage, with the textbook playing a complementary supporting role. Students will learn by doing through simulations and interactive exercises, creating a more compelling learning experience.”
By meshing technology with instructional design, university professors plan to create new approaches to instruction that capitalize on technological advances and offer students a more effective and efficient learning environment.
Tablet PCs will give students access to extra tools and resources, integrated with instructional materials, to help them work through complex subject matter more effectively. For example, while professors lecture or explain subject matter, students will be able to use the Tablet PCs to write lecture notes and save them electronically. They will be able to access online exercises and simulations in the classroom and, for example, develop three-dimensional chemical structures and statistical models and embed them into their lecture notes.
“Technology is becoming an increasingly powerful tool for educators to transform the learning experience and expand the classroom beyond the four walls,” said Linda Zecher, Vice President of U.S. Public Sector for Microsoft. “Innovation demands collaboration, and the cutting-edge vision of the UVa faculty combined with Thomson content and Microsoft technology is a pioneering example that can blaze a trail for other institutions.”
“Drawing upon intelligent digital tools and blended learning models not only advances the learning process,” Ayers said, “but also meets the demands and sensibilities of today’s tech-savvy, information-focused student within the budgetary constraints of higher learning institutions.”
The course material and digital solutions for the pilot will be developed this spring and summer with the first set of solutions to be delivered in fall 2004 courses. The project will be reviewed and refined during the winter of 2004 and continue on through the spring. Thomson Learning Labs will manage the project for Thomson Learning.
About University of Virginia
The University of Virginia is distinctive among institutions of higher education. Founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819, the University sustains the ideal of developing, through education, leaders who are well-prepared to help shape the future of the nation. The University is public, while nourished by the strong support of its alumni. It is also selective; the students who come here have been chosen because they show the exceptional promise Jefferson envisioned. In its 16th annual “America’s Best Colleges” issue (August 2003), U.S. News & World Report ranked the University of Virginia the nation’s #1 public university (tied with Berkeley) and 21st among all public and private national universities. The College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences is the largest School of the University, representing 12,000 of the University’s 16,000 students, and more than 700 faculty.
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About The Thomson Corporation
The Thomson Corporation ( www.thomson.com ), with 2003 revenues of $7.6 billion, is a global leader in providing integrated information solutions to business and professional customers. Thomson provides value-added information, software tools and applications to more than 20 million users in the fields of law, tax, accounting, financial services, higher education, reference information, corporate training and assessment, scientific research and healthcare. With operational headquarters in Stamford, Conn., Thomson has approximately 39,000 employees and provides services in approximately 130 countries. The Corporation’s common shares are listed on the New York and Toronto stock exchanges (NYSE: TOC; TSX: TOC). Its learning businesses and brands serve the needs of individuals, learning institutions, corporations and government agencies with products and services for both traditional and distributed learning.
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