The Schools Interoperability Framework Association (SIFA) and Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Announce Formal Relationship to Enable Interoperability Between Educational Applications

Washington, DC August 23, 2006 – The Schools Interoperability Framework Association (SIFA) and the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) have just released a joint executive brief outlining their newly established relationship. The relationship outlines the desire to create and implement a proof of concept using SIF and SCORM, provide clarity and best practices around the use of SIF and SCORM and develop a long term action plan for collaboration between SIFA and ADL.

The SIF Specification is not a product, but a technical blueprint for school software that will enable diverse applications to interact and share data seamlessly. The SIF Specification is an open standard that any technology providers or schools can develop to and implement. ADL’s Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) aims to foster creation of reusable learning content as “instructional objects” within a common technical framework for computer-based and Web-based learning. SCORM describes that technical framework by providing a harmonized set of guidelines, specifications, and standards based on the work of several distinct e-learning specifications and standards bodies.

As pK-12 educational organizations, government agencies and vendors utilize educational technology more comprehensively for teaching and learning and administration, the need for interoperability becomes paramount. “Leveraging SIF and SCORM will further advance the goal that schools will be enabled to better utilize technology in a manner that leverages the promise and capabilities of interoperability between disparate applications. We are very excited to partner with such a highlyesteemed organization to the benefits of schools, districts and states,” said Dr. Larry Fruth, Executive Director of SIFA.

The entire joint executive brief outlines the rationale for the strategic relationship, the differences between SIF and SCORM and the future plans for furthering interoperability. “We are pleased to work with SIFA to provide clarity around SCORM and SIF. Each organization may concentrate on clarity and leveraging each standard’s or specification’s strength to further interoperability for all industries and applications” stated Robert Wisher, Director of ADL.

The entire Joint Executive Brief will be available on the SIFA web site www.sifinfo.org and the ADL web site www.adlnet.gov. For additional information, please contact Alison Pruitt, apruitt@sifinfo.org.

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School laptop debate heats up

Two recent developments have brought the debate over school laptop initiatives back into the spotlight: An Aug. 31 piece in The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) cited parents and education experts who voiced concerns over the effectiveness of such programs. Just days earlier, the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) announced a new book, 1-to-1 Learning: Laptop Programs that Work, that profiles several states and school districts whose one-to-one initiatives have been branded a success.

According to the WSJ article, some parents and technology experts are part of a growing opposition to one-to-one programs. Only a few years ago, the article states, these programs were introduced to schools across the county, often amid great fanfare and with encouragement from large computer manufacturers such as Apple and Dell. But now, the article says, some parents and educators are having second thoughts over the programs’ higher-than-anticipated costs and the potential for students to use the technology inappropriately.

“What she learned was how to play games and eMail her friends,” parent Shawna Adam of Fullerton, Calif., told the newspaper about her sixth-grade daughter, Abby. “School was one big, happy gabfest.”

Proponents of the movement, such as ISTE and others, take a far different stance. According to them, one-to-one initiatives provide learning in an engaging, relevant context that is essential to preparing students for the challenges of the 21st century. “Very good learning takes place in social settings, where effective communications among learners and between learners and experts is encouraged or required,” said Don Knezek, chief executive officer of ISTE. “To think these communications shouldn’t be done in a 21st-century context with 21st-century tools is a counterproductive and short-sighted attitude.”

According to figures provided by the Bellevue, Wash.-based Anytime Anywhere Learning Foundation, the number of North American students enrolled in one-to-one programs is growing annually at 15 percent and now totals more than 500,000.

But even as these numbers drive higher, critics say the true costs of a comprehensive laptop program–from training staff, to drafting new curriculum, to installing wireless networks in schools–are just now becoming apparent.

“As educational dollars have grown more scarce, those extra costs give pause to more people,” noted Larry Cuban, professor emeritus of education at Stanford University.

As school leaders think more carefully about how best to improve learning, they are beginning to move away from riskier one-to-one programs and are considering other options, such as giving the laptops to teachers instead, says Karen Bruett, vice president of Dell’s K-12 education business, which supplies laptops to hundreds of schools across the nation. Many schools also are investing in “laptop carts” that can be deployed within a school as necessary.

The contrasting viewpoints between the WSJ article and ISTE’s book are proof that the long-winding debate over the sustainability and effectiveness of one-to-one learning projects is far from over. Since the first widespread programs began cropping up in school districts more than five years ago, arguments have arisen over the degree of success the programs have brought to the school systems that have implemented them.

ISTE’s book aims to clear up what it calls some misconceptions in this area. In it, author Pamela Livingston lays out a comprehensive guide that shows school leaders how to plan, implement, and manage a successful one-to-one laptop program. To do this, she profiles several one-to-one programs already underway, including the Henrico County Public Schools in Virginia and statewide initiatives in Maine and Michigan.

“There is evidence of the success of one-to-one programs; in some cases, testing has improved, but in nearly every school attendance has improved,” says Livingston. “This speaks to a vital factor–motivation. If children are more motivated to show up for school, they will be there to do the work, study, learn, and not fall behind.”

Though some parents worry about their children using laptops to spend class time sending instant messages to friends and creating pages on social-networking web sites such as MySpace.com, others feel such communication tools can be used to teachers’ advantage in the classroom.

“The best teachers set up learning situations in which students use modern, robust communication tools to engage in learning and productivity,” said ISTE’s Knezek.

One of the districts Livingston profiles in her book is Henrico County, a pioneer of the one-to-one model–and a recipient of both praise and criticism for its efforts.

In the past year, 232 Henrico students reportedly have been suspended for violating the school’s acceptable-use policy. The cases have included using school computers to search for pornography and hijacking wireless internet access from their neighbors at home, says Lisa Marshall, PTA president of Henrico’s Tuckahoe Middle School.

Despite these and other troubles, Livingston believes what Henrico has done with its program should serve as a model for other school districts considering a foray into one-to-one learning.

“Henrico is teaching a vital lesson to students about appropriate use of computers, which must be taught everywhere,” she said. “They also have worked hard to provide filtering and monitoring tools.”

As to tapping into Wi-Fi spots, Livingston said, “unfortunately this is widespread and not just an issue for students. Everyone needs to password-protect home internet access.”

Since they were first introduced to students and teachers several years ago, one-to-one programs have had a history of successes and failures, all of which have contributed to the public’s perception of them.

Michigan’s one-to-one initiative, dubbed “Freedom to Learn,” has encountered various problems in its short history. Despite being launched with grand ambitions, it has faced cuts in funding since its introduction in 2003. The program, which sought eventually to provide laptops to more than 130,000 sixth-graders throughout the state, currently serves just 27,000 students, 1,500 teachers, and 500 administrators.

In South Dakota, Republican Gov. Mike Rounds has proposed using $13 million in state funds to help school districts buy or lease laptops for high school students. The proposal has sparked protests from critics who say such decisions should be made locally.

The news is better in other places, however. In Maine, home to the first statewide distribution of laptops, administrators recently signed a $41 million contract with Apple to provide 32,000 students and 4,000 teachers with new iBooks. The latest deal increases the number of laptops in Maine public schools to more than 70,000.

Though problems have been reported in Henrico and other places, proponents of one-to-one initiatives say the benefits outweigh any potential problems schools are likely to encounter.

ISTE’s Knezek estimates that one-to-one programs will become more common as the cost of equipment goes down and the probability for success becomes apparent.

“Within five to seven years, I expect a student without a personal computing device–it may look different from a laptop by then–will be as unheard of as a physics student today without a calculator,” he said.

(Editor’s note: For more stories about one-to-one computing and the issues it raises for schools, see our Educators’ Resource Center on One-to-One Computing: http://www.eschoolnews.com/resources/reports/1to1computing.)

Links:

International Society for Technology in Education
http://www.iste.org

Anywhere Anytime Learning Foundation
http://www.aalf.org

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High school dropouts face steep costs in U.S.

Dropping out of high school has its costs around the globe, but nowhere steeper than in the United States.

Adults who don’t finish high school in the U.S. earn 65 percent of what people who have high school degrees make, according to a new report comparing industrialized nations. No other country had such a severe income gap.

Adults without a high school diploma typically make about 80 percent of the salaries earned by high school graduates in nations across Asia, Europe, and elsewhere. Countries such as Finland, Belgium, Germany, and Sweden have the smallest gaps in earnings between dropouts and graduates.

The figures come from "Education at a Glance," an annual study by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The report, released Sept. 11, aims to help leaders see how their nations stack up.

The findings underscore the cost of a persistent dropout problem in the United States. It is rising as a national concern as politicians see the risks for the economy and for millions of kids.

The new report says 44 percent of adults without high school degrees in the United States have low incomes–that is, they make half of the country’s median income or less.

Only Denmark had a higher proportion of dropouts with low incomes.

Also, the United States is below the international average when it comes to its employment rate among adults age 25 to 64 who have no high school degree.

Even U.S. adult education and job training do little to close gaps, because too few dropouts take part, said Barbara Ischinger, director of education for the OECD.

"Those with poor initial qualifications remain disadvantaged throughout their life, because they have fewer opportunities to catch up later on," she said.

About one-third of students in the United States don’t finish high school on time–or at all. Estimates on that dropout rate vary, though, and state data are often shaky.

The importance of a high school degree on income varies across nations. It depends on the demands for skills, the supply of workers, minimum-wage laws, and the strength of unions.

The disparity is more pronounced in the United States, Ischinger said, partly because the U.S. labor market is more flexible. Other nations protect people with weak education qualifications through regulations or tax systems that favor the low skilled, she said.

On the other end of the spectrum, however, the United States more richly rewards those who go to college.

An adult with a university degree in the U.S. earns, on average, 72 percent more than someone with a high school degree. That’s a much bigger difference than in most countries.

The study compares the United States to 29 other industrialized nations that belong to the economic organization, although not every country reported data on every indicator.

Links:

"Education at a Glance" report http://www.oecd.org/edu/eag2006

 

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OECD sounds new education alarm

U.S. and European schoolchildren are losing ground to countries such as China and India that are adapting faster to changing needs and producing more of the high-skilled workers the 21st century demands, according to a new report. Richer nations, especially in Europe, face a growing lack of ambition among their children, fed partly by social inequality that schools have failed to redress, it says.

“Education at a Glance,” an annual study by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), was released Sept. 11. It covers 30 of the world’s richest nations, but it also compares how they stack up with key non-OECD members China and India.

That comparison will be crucial in the coming decades. The number of graduates from China last year–4.4 million–outstripped that of the entire European Union.

While graduates still represent a small portion of China’s population, the number is growing fast.

More graduates in the world have not, as some feared, created a glut. Wages for highly educated students have stayed the same or grown in all the OECD nations. And as technology has advanced, job market demands for advanced skills have, too.

The report stressed the pressures on rich countries to meet the fast-growing demand for high-level skills, and it warned that the United States and Europe are losing ground internationally because other countries are making faster and bigger gains.

Among OECD members, East Asian countries are increasingly outperforming Europe and the United States–and they “succeed without leaving many students behind,” the report said.

Other countries show a marked contrast between high achievers and their struggling peers. More than a quarter of 15-year-olds in the United States, Italy, Mexico, Portugal, and Turkey performed at or below the lowest levels on math–and students from poor families were 3.5 times more likely to do badly.

Family incomes continue to play a role in how well children do in school in industrialized nations–and, in many countries, schools even reinforce inequalities instead of rectifying them, the report said, calling it “perhaps the greatest disappointment.”

The largest inequalities were found in Germany, France, and Italy; the smallest in Finland, Canada, and five of the six Asian countries on the list.

In looking toward future job market needs, the report warned against a “lack of ambition” among youth in many OECD countries that contrasts sharply with families’ push to educate children in many developing countries–especially China and India.

The report also warned about increasing costs of dropping out of high school (see related story).

Adults who do not finish high school in the U.S. earn 65 percent of what people make if they do finish high school. No other country had such a severe income gap. Countries such as Finland, Belgium, Germany, and Sweden have the smallest gaps.

The U.S. government spends more per student from elementary school through college–$12,023–than all countries except Switzerland.

Links:

“Education at a Glance” report
http://www.oecd.org/edu/eag2006

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Discovery Education and Bally Total Fitness Partner for COSMEO

Silver Spring, MD (September 14, 2006)–Discovery Education and Bally Total Fitness announced today a new partnership to distribute COSMEO, the new comprehensive educational and homework help Web site from Discovery, to Bally customers. The promotion will be available to all Bally Fitness Center members and run nationwide from Friday, Sept. 15 through Oct. 31.

For the next six weeks, new and existing members of Bally Fitness Centers will be offered a free two-month subscription of COSMEO. The offer will be distributed at nearly 400 Bally Fitness Centers, via e-mail to Bally members, on BallyFitneess.com and at special health fairs taking place at Bally Fitness Centers on Saturday, October 14. In addition, everyone who attends the health events will receive two DVDs of Discovery Kids Channel’s most popular series, ENDURANCE and HI-5.

“We’re delighted to be working with Bally Total Fitness for this new partnership,” said Melanie Bowen, Discovery Education’s executive vice president, Home Services. “This relationship reflects both organizations’ commitment to helping kids and families by bringing the exciting benefits of COSMEO to a new audience.”

“We are always looking for ways to provide members with added value products and services,” said Jim McDonald, CMO Bally Total Fitness. “After reviewing the COSMEO website offering it was clear that this would be a great value to them and their families.”

About Bally Total Fitness

Bally Total Fitness is the largest and only nationwide commercial operator of fitness centers, with over 400 owned and franchised facilities located in 29 states, Mexico, Canada, Korea, China and the Caribbean under the Bally Total Fitness(R), Bally Sports Clubs(R) and Sports Clubs of Canada(R) brands. Bally offers a unique platform for distribution of a wide range of products and services targeted to active, fitness-conscious adult consumers.

About Discovery Education

Discovery Education is a division of Discovery Communications, the leading global real-world and knowledge-based media company. The leader in digital video-based learning, Discovery Education produces and distributes high-quality digital video content in easy-to-use formats, in all core-curricular subject areas. Its award-winning digital learning resources are available to 30 million students across the United States. Discovery Education is committed to creating scientifically proven, standards-based digital resources for teachers, students, and parents. Through strategic partnerships with 25 public television stations across the country, its public service initiatives, products, and joint business ventures, Discovery Education helps educators around the world harness the power of broadband and media to connect their students to a world of learning. For more information, visit www.discoveryeducation.com.

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HIGHER EDUCATION ASSOCIATIONS OBJECT TO PENDING TELECOMMUNICATIONS

For nearly two years, EDUCAUSE, Internet2, and several other higher education associations have been working to ensure that the principles of net neutrality and broad, unrestricted Internet access for all Americans are included in pending telecommunications reform legislation.

This group, representing the interests of higher education, has just sent a letter to Senators Ted Stevens and Daniel Inouye–chair and co- chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation– withholding support from and asking for changes in the Communications Act of 2006 (H.R. 5252). View the letter: http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/EPO0658.pdf

The letter cites four specific areas of the draft legislation needing remedy:

1. The bill must extend the same Internet access rights granted to consumers to providers of Web sites and services.

2. The bill requires Internet Service Providers to carry every content and equipment provider. This obligation must be extended to require that the underlying transmission carriers and network owners do the same.

3. The bill must prohibit anticompetitive discrimination against customers or information providers.

4. The bill must eliminate the overly broad language that would allow ISPs to insert service limitations in subscriber contracts.

The Internet has become the most valuable medium for distance learning, scientific research, telemedicine, and many other educational purposes. Network neutrality has been vital to the development and adoption of these important educational opportunities as well as to enhanced online commerce. Without it, American businesses, consumers, and the research and education community will be disadvantaged in the global information arena.

Gary Bachula, Internet2 vice president of external relations said, “Congress should act to provide consumers, entrepreneurs, and educators with the protection needed to support continued innovation and economic growth. By safeguarding open and unfettered access to the Internet, the U.S. can continue to lead the world in the development of true next- generation Internet applications that will have a fundamental impact on the way we live, learn, and work unlocking myriad economic opportunities that we have yet to discover.”

According to EDUCAUSE Vice President Mark Luker, “While we applaud the efforts to update our communications laws to make broadband services more widely available to the public, a bigger pipe will not serve the needs of students, teachers, and academic researchers if it is constrained by gates and toll booths. Unfortunately, the bill does not prevent the cable and telephone companies from engaging in anticompetitive discrimination on the Internet. We hope to work with Senator Stevens and Senator Inouye to address this issue.”

EDUCAUSE, Internet2, and the other signatories of the letter look forward to working with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to include these changes in the legislation before it comes up for a vote in the full Senate.

Learn more about the importance of this issue to higher education and the public at the EDUCAUSE Net Neutrality resource site: http://www.educause.edu/netneutrality

ABOUT EDUCAUSE

EDUCAUSE is a nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education by promoting the intelligent use of information technology. The current membership comprises more than 2,000 colleges, universities, and educational organizations, including 200 corporations, with 15,000 active members. EDUCAUSE has offices in Boulder, Colorado, and Washington, D.C. Learn more at http://www.educause.edu

ABOUT INTERNET2

Led by more than 200 U.S. universities working with industry and government, Internet2 develops and deploys advanced network applications and technologies for research and higher education, accelerating the creation of tomorrow’s Internet. Internet2 recreates the partnerships among academia, industry, and government that helped foster today’s Internet in its infancy. For more information, visit http://www.internet2.edu

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Ultralingua Announces Version 6 of Popular Dictionary Line

New products offer increased speed and functionality for dictionary users of all stripes. Available for English (definitions & synonyms) as well as in over a dozen language pairs (French-English, Spanish-English, Portuguese-English, German-English, and more.)

Minneapolis, September 14th: Ultralingua announced today the release of version 6 in its line of Ultralingua dictionaries, setting a new standard for electronic language resources.

“Ultralingua has long provided users with quality language tools. Our new version 6 offers significant increases in speed and functionality. We automatically detect the forms of words, and we even decipher misspellings made by the user,” reported Bill Upham, Ultralingua spokesperson. “Moreover, the new, sleek interface makes using Ultralingua on any platform a real pleasure.”

In addition to their extensive databases of definitions and translations, Ultralingua dictionaries include powerful verb conjugators, number-to-text converters, and extensive language references (such as full grammar manuals for several languages). Maintaining their commitment to multiple platforms, the new version is now available for Macintosh, Windows, Palm OS, and Windows Mobile. Macintosh and Windows versions offer powerful interaction with other applications, allowing users to click on a word in nearly any other application, thereby triggering a pop-up window displaying the translation or definition. Version 6 is currently available only on Ultralingua’s web site, at www.ultralingua.com.

In additional to its flagship dictionary series, Ultralingua offers a line of spelling and grammar checkers (under the brand Grammatica), and recently launched a line of light dictionaries known as Accio (www.acciodictionary.com) — which includes a dictionary for the iPod, complete with a talking phrasebook.

About Ultralingua Inc.

Ultralingua is a leading provider of dictionaries and grammar and spelling checkers for educators, translators, and business travelers worldwide. The company’s product lines consist of nineteen dictionaries of translation, two monolingual dictionaries, four grammar and spelling checkers, and the Eureka thematic encyclopedia. Ultralingua distributors include McGraw-Hill, Apple Computer, Hachette Multimedia, Handango, PalmGear, and others. Ultralingua is headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Version 6 of Ultralingua costs $29.95 (per language). Free demos are available at: www.ultralingua.com/. Inquiries and questions should be directed to sales@ultralingua.com.

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PlayFoam from Educational Insights Named One of 20 Top Toys for Holiday Season by ASTRA

RANCHO DOMINQUEZ, Calif.,–September 13, 2006–Kids want the “hot” new toys for the holidays, but parents worry: What happens when those holiday fads fade? Educational Insights announced today that PlayFoam has been included on a prestigious industry list of exceptional toys that children will love to play with long after the holidays. The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA)’s “Top 20 Toys” for Holiday 2006 is a one-of-a-kind list based on input from independent toy store owners around the country, the “toy professionals” who spend every day of the year working with consumers and kids. This daily interaction gives these retailers unmatched, firsthand knowledge of toys that are truly compelling to both kids and parents, and PlayFoam is among them.

“Every year, parents tell us how some of the latest, trendy toys and gadgets end up at the bottom of the toy box soon after the holidays,” said Jim Whitney, president of Educational Insights. “But a toy such as PlayFoam ignites the imagination and provides a different play experience every time the child picks it up. The unique, fun toys found at local neighborhood toy stores inspire creativity, making them favorites the children turn to again and again all year round.” Addictively fun, PlayFoam is lightweight, colorful foam sculpting material that won’t crumble, stick to skin or surfaces, or dry out or fade. It includes six vibrant colors to mix and match.

These toys also earn high approval ratings from parents and educators by helping children build developmental skills, reinforcing classroom lessons, teaching sharing and caring, and even getting kids off the couch. And, at ASTRA-member stores, parents enjoy atmospheres that encourage creativity and play, combined with personal service and expert advice for a toy shopping experience unlike anywhere else.

PlayFoam can be found at independent ASTRA toy retailers and teacher supply stores nationwide. Consumers can also purchase PlayFoam on the Educational Insights web site at www.educationalinsights.com.

For a complete ASTRA “Top 20 Toys” list, or to locate an ASTRA specialty toy retailer near you, visit www.astratoy.org or call ASTRA at 312-222-0984. About Educational Insights

Educational Insights, Inc. is an education company dedicated to creating a wide range of materials for today’s classrooms and homes. EI’s educational toys, teaching aids, exploration materials, and digital devices provide educators and parents with affordable learning tools for children. Educational Insights’ products are available to schools and homes through quality toy stores, teacher/parent stores, and educational dealers everywhere.

For more information, or to receive a free catalog, call 1-800-995-4436 or visit the Web site at www.educationalinsights.com.

About The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association

ASTRA is Leading the Way Through Play by providing quality products that help children have fun, achieve success and lead happy, healthy lives. The largest association for companies in the toy and children’s products arenas, ASTRA brings retailers, manufacturers, manufacturers’ representatives, and industry affiliates together to help them achieve their business goals and promote the growth of the industry by delivering products that serve children’s best interests.

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WHRO Selects Desire2Learn as their Partner in eLearning for Virginia’s Fifteen Regional School Systems

Kitchener-Waterloo, ON, Canada, September 14, 2006–Desire2Learn, a world-leading provider of enterprise eLearning solutions announced today that WHRO has selected Desire2Learn’s Learning Environment and Learning Repository to satisfy the eLearning needs of fifteen regional school systems within the state of Virginia.

In late 2005, WHRO began their search for a learning management system that would better assist them in providing professional development courses and K-12 courses online to 286,000 K-12 students and 25,000 educators within Virginia. WHRO required a solution that would unite and encourage collaboration amongst districts, while at the same time, enabling each school system to embrace their own unique identity. WHRO invited a number of key learning management system providers, to present their case.

“With their ease of implementation and innovative offerings, Desire2Learn was the forerunner in our search for a learning management system. Their community approach for sharing and collaboration, and flexibility to adapt and brand each school region according to their unique specifications, delighted the leaders of our regional school systems” said Brian Callahan, WHRO Director of Education. “Desire2Learn meets the needs and trends for our eLearning community making it easy to develop, share, and exchange information across each region, thereby accommodating the needs of both students and teachers.”

WHRO was impressed with Desire2Learn’s array of tools and functionality promoting organizational and learner assessment. Competencies and rubrics will enable WHRO to help with standardized assessment across all fifteen school regions. At the same time, they encourage a learner-centric environment, improve learner success, and meet WHRO’s future growth requirements.

The Desire2Learn implementation will be completed in September 2006. “We are thrilled to begin our work and joint pursuit in improving teaching and learning for the WHRO community of educators and learners,” insisted John Baker, President and CEO at Desire2Learn. “Desire2Learn is excited to support WHRO in their future-focused dedication to online education where they can easily develop and share ideas among schools and regions, without boundaries or limitations.”

About Desire2Learn Inc.: Desire2Learn, Inc. is a world-leading provider of mission-critical enterprise learning solutions that empower academic organizations to build teaching and learning environments to reflect their vision and goals. Desire2Learn clients include colleges, universities, schools, as well as associations and other leading organizations. There are more than 4 million users of the Desire2Learn enterprise eLearning technology worldwide. Founded in 1999, Desire2Learn is headquartered in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario. For more information, please visit: http://www.Desire2Learn.com

About WHRO: WHRO is a dynamic and vital organization that seeks to improve the civic, educational and cultural life of the Greater Hampton Roads, Virginia community through broadcast, communications, and media services. WHRO serves 286,000 K-12 students and 25,000 educators within a total population of 1.6 million residents located in 19 municipalities. Fifteen (15) of the regional school systems own the assets of WHRO and provide direction to educational offerings. WHRO’s educational services have increasingly moved to online, Web-based, and Internet accessed services, with participation extending statewide and beyond. Online professional development courses, Video On-demand services, K-12 online courses, group leases, K-12 student computer competitions, and streaming media are among the varied offerings supporting instruction and learning.

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$19 Million Investment Supports SchoolNet’s

September 14, 2006 (New York, NY)–SchoolNet, Inc., a leading software company that helps public school districts improve efficiency and increase academic achievement, today announced the completion of a $19 million Series C financing. The investors, who include The Carlyle Group, Hamilton Lane, and New York City Investment Fund (NYCIF), were impressed with the impact that the company is having with public school districts across the nation. SchoolNet is revolutionizing the way school administrators operate, the way teachers teach, the way parents stay involved, and the way children learn.

Founded in 1998 as a for-profit philanthropic company to improve the world’s education systems, SchoolNet currently serves over 50 American cities (including, Atlanta, Chicago, Corpus Christi, New York, Philadelphia and Washington D.C.) that educate over 2.5 million students in 14 states.

Since the School District of Philadelphia began implementing SchoolNet in 2003, the results have been remarkable:

*The number of schools attaining state-required passing grades according to the federal No Child Left Behind regulations has nearly tripled in just two years.

*Math scores have risen 22.3 percentage points since 2002.

*Reading scores have risen 14.1 percentage points since 2002.

*The percentage of all students scoring advanced/proficient in math increased by 23 percentage points between 2002 and 2006.

“SchoolNet is the greatest thing since the printing press,” stated Vince DeTolla, Executive Director Education Technology, School District of Philadelphia. “SchoolNet is the killer application education has been waiting for.”

Corpus Christi Independent School District serves 39,200 students. In 2003 the District implemented SchoolNet and quickly began to see positive results like Philadelphia.

SchoolNet’s technology enabled Corpus to reach its goals. Teachers were able to quickly target students who needed remediation programs, significantly reduce Special Ed referrals, and for the first time teachers were able to access over 700 lesson plans on their computers.

“SchoolNet is the greatest education reform Corpus Christi Independent School District has engaged in the last 10 years,” stated Dr. Katherine Conoly, Executive Director, Special Programs for Corpus Christi Independent School District.

“We are delighted to receive financing from such socially involved financial partners,” said Jonathan D. Harber, CEO and President of SchoolNet. “The funds will allow SchoolNet to impact even more children and teachers, in more classes, in more schools, in more cities.”

Brian Hayhurst, Managing Director of The Carlyle Group, commented: “We believe K-12 education is a large, growing market. SchoolNet’s success with large urban districts puts them in a distinctive position to lead the market.”

“This growth capital will enable SchoolNet to continue to advance its leadership in K-12 education technology,” said David Helgerson, Vice President of Hamilton Lane.

“We’re pleased to support a company that provides school systems with greater capacity to measure and manage educational outcomes,” said Kathryn S. Wylde, President and CEO, Partnership for New York City (NYCIF).

About SchoolNet, Inc.

SchoolNet Inc., the leader in School Performance Management Systems, improves efficiency and increase achievement in school systems. SchoolNet’s Performance Management Systems are built upon an open, scalable platform that provides users with the data, reports, tools, and content to develop human capital, individualize instruction, and ensure school improvement. SchoolNet’s solutions are used successfully by some of the nation’s largest school districts including Philadelphia, Chicago and New York and are based on industry standards such as Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF) and the Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM), as recommended by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Education Technology Plan. SchoolNet is recognized by both Deloitte’s Fast 50 and Inc Magazine’s Inc. 500 as one of the fastest growing private companies in the country. For more information, please visit www.schoolnet.com

About The Carlyle Group

The Carlyle Group is a global private equity firm with $41.9 billion under management. Carlyle invests in buyouts, venture & growth capital, real estate and leveraged finance in Asia, Australia, Europe and North America, focusing on aerospace & defense, automotive & transportation, consumer & retail, energy & power, healthcare, industrial, technology & business services and telecommunications & media. Since 1987, the firm has invested $19.7 billion of equity in 500 transactions for a total purchase price of $79.7 billion. The Carlyle Group employs more than 670 people in 15 countries. In the aggregate, Carlyle portfolio companies have more than $46 billion in revenue and employ more than 224,000 people around the world.

About NYCIF/NYSBVF

The New York City Investment Fund (www.nycif.com) is the vision of Henry R. Kravis, founding partner of Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts & Co., who serves as its Co-Chairman, along with Russell L. Carson, General Partner of Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe. The Investment Fund has raised over $100 million to mobilize the city’s world financial and business leaders to help build a stronger and more diversified local economy. To that end, the Investment Fund has built a network of top experts from the investment and corporate communities who help identify and support New York City’s most promising entrepreneurs in both the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors. The Investment Fund is the investment and the economic development arm of the Partnership for New York City (www.pfnyc.org), the city’s largest business organization. The New York Small Business Venture Fund (NYSBVF) is a certified capital company that NYCIF organized to participate in a New York State program that provides tax credits to insurance companies that invest in small businesses via certified capital companies (CAPCOs).

About Hamilton Lane

Hamilton Lane is a private, independently owned alternative asset manager providing discretionary and non-discretionary asset management services in the private equity and hedge fund asset classes to institutional investors worldwide. Founded in 1991, the firm oversees over $50 billion on behalf of institutional clients and has approximately 70 private equity employees operating out of offices in the United States, Europe and Asia. Hamilton Lane is majority owner of The Richcourt Group, which it acquired in 2004. Richcourt has over 20 hedge fund professionals with offices in New York, Paris and Monaco.

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