Collaborative Technologies Promise Relief for Institutions Facing a 'Perfect Storm' of Challenges

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Wimba Provides Tools to Address Increased Student Demand, Shrinking Classroom Capacity and the Escalating Threat of Swine Flu

Wimba® Inc., the education technology company that helps people teach people, announced today that colleges and universities across the country are turning to Wimba's collaborative solutions to overcome the complex blend of challenges facing the higher education market this academic school year.

In addition to the escalating threat of pandemic H1N1 (Swine Flu) outbreaks for the Fall semester, many institutions have found themselves struggling to serve a record increase in student enrollment coupled with market-stricken endowments and the constrained physical capacity of existing brick-and-mortar facilities. With this "perfect storm" of factors facing higher education institutions, collaborative technologies such as those offered by Wimba will become even more critical to ensure continued access to education.

"The challenges facing educational institutions today are complex," said Carol Vallone, Acting CEO and Chairman of the Board at Wimba. "Although the threat of H1N1 places greater focus on collaborative technologies for disaster preparedness, which has been the case since Hurricane Katrina, the fact of the matter is that collaborative technologies from Wimba also address issues around 'the business' of education."

"Enhancing teaching and learning remain central to any institution's mission," added Vallone. "But more and more of our customers are also leveraging the Wimba Collaboration Suite to address broader issues like increasing capacity, improving student retention and growing revenue. Institutions who don't take these issues seriously will find themselves at a disadvantage and less competitive than those who do."

Pandemic Preparedness Is Paramount

According to a recent survey by the American College Health Association, influenza-like illness is being contracted at a rate of about 18 cases per 10,000 students and has been recorded at close to 72 percent of schools surveyed as of the first week of September.

With the threat of Swine Flu escalating as flu season reaches its peak, it is crucial that schools provide the necessary alternatives for continued instruction should the physical campus need to be shut down, or staff and students be temporarily quarantined.

PASSHE, University of Utah, Kansas State University, University of Missouri - Kansas City, Valley City State University and Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) are only a handful of Wimba customers integrating Wimba into their disaster preparedness plans.

Student Demand vs. Classroom Capacity

While Swine Flu is the most urgent issue facing educators, perhaps the more serious long-term hurdle is the ability for institutions to meet the burgeoning demand for seats in their lecture halls. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that more than two million high school graduates will apply for college admission next year. Additionally NCES projects that since 2007, college enrollment by students 25 years of age or less are expected to rise by 10 percent, while enrollment by students 25 or older will rise by 19 percent.

As demand for higher education increases, institutional means for supporting current students is shrinking.

"We can't add more seats by expanding classrooms, but we can offer the same class [through Wimba Classroom] to more students if we offer the same class online synchronously and later as an archive," says Laura Sederberg, Technology and Learning Program Manager at CSU, Chico.

Collaboration Is The Key

Collaborative solutions - such as Wimba Classroom™ and Wimba Pronto™ - combine interactive technologies such as voice, video, podcasting, instant messaging, application sharing, polling and whiteboarding, so that students and teachers are empowered with a unique collaborative environment that fosters dynamic interaction between students and instructors as well as peer-to-peer communication between students and faculty.

"Wimba means that we are cutting edge and can use this technology to its very best advantage. It has revolutionized what we can do," said Neil Marriot, Professor and Dean at Winchester Business School.

With Wimba Classroom instructors have the ability to present course material in a virtual classroom not limited by location or size, and allowing for uninterrupted learning so that critical time is not lost for students or instructors. Archives of this class material are easily created and exported as MP3 or MP4 files and made immediately available for any student anytime, anywhere.

Wimba Pronto--an academic-centric instant messaging system--enables learning communities to stay connected in real-time. Office hours or study breaks can be held online and help-desk services can be delivered virtually. Because Wimba Pronto is synced with class rosters, students and instructors have immediate and secure access to one another.

These capabilities will be particularly useful the for non-traditional students who will swell the higher-education ranks in coming years and who will need to interact with teachers and peers as closely and efficiently as possible.

Wimba Classroom and Wimba Pronto are part of the Wimba Collaboration Suite™, which was recently awarded the 2009 "Best Education Solution" CODiE award by the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA).

About Wimba®
Wimba® is a leading provider of collaborative software for distance and blended learning. The Wimba Collaboration Suite, recently awarded the 2009 "Best Education Solution" CODiE award by SIIA, enhances learning, improves outcomes and increases student retention. By combining interactive technologies such as voice, video, podcasting, instant messaging, application sharing, polling and whiteboarding, learning communities are empowered with a unique collaborative environment that fosters dynamic student-to-instructor, student-to-student, and instructor-to-instructor interaction. Our seamless integration with leading course management systems ensures that users have a simplified and familiar workflow. Wimba. People Teach People. http://www.wimba.com

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Kathleen Matthews
Wimba, Inc.
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