SOURCE: Wimba

November 13, 2007 10:18 ET

Wimba Helps Drive Blended Learning Success for K-12 Environment

William Penn School District Uses Technology to Meet Needs Outside of Traditional Classroom

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - November 13, 2007) - Wimba, the education technology company that helps people teach people, today announced its involvement in the success of the William Penn School District (Pennsylvania) Cyber Academy serving K-12 students whose circumstances make blended learning an attractive alternative to the traditional, brick-and-mortar classroom.

Offering technology-enhanced education with the help of the nonprofit consortium Blended Schools and combining the benefits of online and face-to-face instruction, the William Penn School District (WPSD) Cyber Academy has exceeded administrators' expectations and delighted both faculty and family users. Cyber Academy was founded in August 2005 and now offers more than 120 different courses taught by state certified instructors from WPSD and partner institutions through Blended Schools.

"When we first launched Cyber Academy our informational meetings attracted four or five parents," said Ursula Willis, director of Instructional Technology for WPSD. "But after only a few weeks, we had five times that many. The idea of blended instruction has caught on very quickly."

Cyber Academy now helps meet the needs of students who, for varied reasons, are learning outside the traditional classroom. While some families simply favor home schooling, others are responding to a number of medical, social, and relational factors that make education technology a life-changing alternative for a growing number of district families.

"WPSD's success illustrates the excitement of our work in the K-12 arena," said Yancy Oshita, Vice President, Worldwide Marketing, Wimba. "Watching students get more engaged in learning--seeing our solutions touch people's lives -- is both gratifying and inspiring."

Cyber Academy uses the Blackboard course management system along with Wimba Classroom and Wimba Voice to provide audio, video, application sharing, content display, and vitally important elements of interaction that transcend text-based courses. These solutions are vital to students who learn best by hearing or by receiving information via multiple means concurrently. Wimba also supports student engagement by facilitating vocal instruction, collaboration, coaching, and assessment.

"I like Wimba because it gives me different ways to learn," said Cyber Academy 12th Grader Richard Giffins. "I'm more of an audio guy. Hearing my teacher gives me more of an explanation and a better feel for what I'm learning."

Cyber Academy instructors have seen the benefits as well. Teacher Lisa Landrum said, "With [blended] instruction, I'm a much better, well-rounded instructor. Most students' grades improved over time; they got more confident and participated more." Willis cited Wimba's ability to ensure consistent rigor across courses and confirm students' mastery of subject matter.

Cyber Academy administrators also find the system highly motivational for students, and praise its inclusive qualities. They said that technology-enhanced education helps a diverse set of students better prepare for life after high school, whether it involves college or work.

Willis said, "We need to look at how we're preparing our children for the work experience and the higher education experience, and this technology is the way to do that."

Public schools across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are administered by independent school districts, many of which serve an average of about 2,000 K-12 students. While the larger, county-wide school systems in neighboring states can individually support online and blended education programs, smaller school districts with limited revenues have been challenged to keep pace. Blended Schools has brought together the resources of more than 130 Pennsylvania schools to help them deliver the benefits of education technology to their families.

About Wimba

Wimba is a company focused solely on education and dedicated to the principle that people learn more when they are drawn closer together. Our collaborative software applications for the online education market enable institutions to bridge technology and pedagogy by supplementing course management systems with many of the proven disciplines of in-person learning environments. Wimba's intuitive solutions enable educators and students to quickly and easily teach and learn live online, engage in live chat and instant message exchanges, benefit from oral content being added to text-based course content, and more. Instructors can also use Wimba solutions to convert Microsoft Word documents into accessible course content and to create and administer tests, quizzes, and exams. Our focus on education and collaboration with educators fuels our product development.

Wimba. People Teach People. www.wimba.com

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