SOURCE: Wimba, Inc.

November 17, 2008 08:52 ET

Wimba Pronto Academic-Centric Instant Messaging Platform Improves Collaboration for Wider Audience

Spanish Language Preference and Universal Accessibility Features Enhance Collaborative Learning

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - November 17, 2008) - Wimba® Inc., the education technology company that helps people teach people, today announced the release of Wimba Pronto™ 2.1, the only instant messaging platform designed exclusively for education to advance and promote learning. Enhancements included in Wimba Pronto 2.1 are robust accessibility features and a Spanish language option, increasing the number of students and teachers who benefit from this academic-centric messaging platform.

Wimba Pronto 2.1 enables students and teachers to uniquely collaborate and learn in an informal "virtual venue," replicating the exchange of ideas and communication that happens naturally in the hallways, cafeterias, or libraries of a physical campus. Wimba Pronto 2.1 also helps schools and institutions meet the requirements of 21st century learners by delivering campus services, office hours, library services, or tutoring sessions online.

First unveiled in June 2008, Wimba Pronto is currently in use at more than 200 academic institutions. Unique features that specifically support teaching and learning include:

--  Instant Access to Campus Services
--  Queued Chat for Tutoring and Office Hours
--  Automatic Population of Classmates and Courses
--  Application Sharing
--  Blended Audio and Video Conferencing
--  Instant School-Wide Notifications
--  Spanish Language Preference
--  Universal Accessibility
    

Spanish Language Option

Wimba Pronto 2.1 now supports Spanish, further expanding its reach and meeting the needs of a growing population. Wimba Pronto instantly recognizes the language of the user's operating system upon signing in and automatically changes the user's interface. The enhanced version also allows users to choose a preferred language regardless of operating system preferences, providing increased flexibility.

Universal Accessibility

Wimba Pronto 2.1 exposes controls and assigns meaningful names and descriptions to be read by leading screen readers such as JAWS (PC) and VoiceOver (MAC). The enhancements also include an upgraded keyboard-based navigation feature, allowing students who are not able to operate a mouse the ability to use Wimba Pronto.

"Innovation at Wimba centers on developing new capabilities to meet the diverse needs of students and educators in the 21st century classroom," said Yancy Oshita, Wimba's Executive Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing. "The accessibility and Spanish language features in Wimba Pronto 2.1 open the door for more students and educators to utilize instant messaging as a platform for collaboration and learning."

According to the 2007 Community College Survey of Student Engagement, almost half the students surveyed said they never engaged with faculty members outside of class. The same survey found that only 15 percent of students often or very often discussed ideas from their readings or classes with instructors outside of class and just 8 percent said they often worked with instructors on activities outside of class.

"Learning not only takes place in a lecture room but also in a hallway and other places outside of the classroom," said Dena Faust, Assistant Director of Distance Education/Instructional Design at Alvin Community College. "As our roles change, so will the place where learning takes place. Most of my learning took place in a library or classroom, but now as access to information changes, so does access to people. Because of Web 2.0 tools we create people-to-people access. This involves people working directly with people. We'll make learning go from a passive to a passionate-type of learning."

Wimba Pronto, powered exclusively by wind energy, is part of the Wimba Collaboration Suite™, which offers a rich array of collaborative applications that allow faculty to retain the highly personal and dynamic nature of traditional classroom instruction. Wimba solutions integrate seamlessly within existing university course management systems/virtual learning environments (CMS/VLE) such as ANGEL® Learning, Blackboard® and Moodle. With this combination, Wimba offers institutions the flexibility they need so that instructors can manage their course content and create customized rooms from within their familiar CMS environment.

The Wimba Pronto 2.1 Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) and a Spanish demo are available at www.wimba.com.

About Wimba

Wimba®, Inc. is a leading provider of collaborative learning software applications and services to the education industry. Our collaborative software applications for the online and blended education market enable institutions to bridge technology and pedagogy by supplementing learning management systems with many of the proven disciplines of in-person learning environments. Wimba's intuitive solutions enable teachers 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 content, and more. Teachers can also use Wimba solutions to easily convert Microsoft Word documents into online content and to create and administer tests, quizzes, and exams. Our focus on education and collaboration with educators fuels our product development. For more information, please visit www.wimba.com or send an email to info@wimba.com.

Wimba. People Teach People. www.wimba.com

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