Friday, May 08, 2009
Posted By mwasowski      Category

Of all the initiatives that the new administration in Washington DC has put forward the last few months, one that is being considered today just caught my eye.  The AP reported that President Obama has asked states to stop the practice of ending unemployment benefits if a person goes back to school.  I personally think this is a necessary idea.  Like so many of us, I too have been on unemployment and both times I considered going back to school - and both times realized that I wouldn’t be able to afford to if my unemployment benefits were simultaneously discontinued.  After all, education doesn’t come cheap, especially for someone who’s out of work and making at most $405/week.  Personally speaking, I hope this initiative gets the job.



Thursday, May 07, 2009
Posted By mwasowski      Category

So my colleague Kathleen Matthews safely made it to New York this morning after a day-long celebration in San Francisco for our CODiE award victory.  Despite her plane being delayed 3 hours, she was still in good spirits when she showed up in our office a few hours ago just in time to send me these two pictures she took from the ceremony Tuesday night.  Being named ‘Best Education Solution’ is something of which we’re all extremely proud - and now we’ve got some nifty hardware to show off!  Enjoy the two pics.


Wednesday, May 06, 2009
Posted By mwasowski      Category

I was pleasantly awoken last night at 1:16am by Kathleen Matthews, our Director of Marketing Communications, who texted me the following message from the black-tie SIIA CODiE awards ceremony in San Francisco:

We won! Best Education Solution! (& last category of the entire awards ceremony).

Woohooo!  In the software industry, the CODiEs are the equivalent to the Oscars, Grammys, Emmys, or the Super Bowl, so we couldn’t be more ecstatic.  As a company that constantly prides itself on being 100% laser-focused on education, we’re certainly happy to have some affirmation.  So…

I’d first like to thank the eight CODiE judges who patiently sat through numerous demos of the entire Wimba Collaboration Suite.  They had to learn about Wimba Classroom, Wimba Create, Wimba Pronto, and Wimba Voice in a relatively short amount of time...but apparently they were blown away! 

Second, since I work with our customers every day, I’d like to thank all of our loyal and supportive users who have worked so closely with us for nearly a decade.  They’ve watched us grow and mature and have collectively become the most innovative institutions in the world when it comes to cutting-edge distance education.  Without our customers, we’d be nothing.   You’re the ones who find new and exciting ways every day to use the Wimba Collaboration Suite to increase engagement, improve outcomes, decrease costs, and increase revenue and retention rates. 

And finally, I want to thank our Engineering, Quality Assurance, and Product Development teams who actually make the countless components of the Wimba Collaboration Suite.  While our Marketing, Sales, Services/Support, and even Finance departments are the more visible departments of our company, our developers, testers, and product designers comprise the oft faceless engine of the company that keep things churning.  Without their unrivaled knowledge and dogged determination I wouldn’t be blogging about our CODiE victory today.  These guys don’t get enough recognition and their heads are usually too buried in millions of lines of code to look up.  So congrats, all...savor this doesn’t get any better than this!

And to Carol Vallone and Barb Ross, our new acting CEO and COO, respectively,...looks like you’ve stepped into a great place! 

Now we patiently await for Kathleen to send us pictures from the ceremony (I promise I’ll post them soon...)


Tuesday, May 05, 2009
Posted By mwasowski      Category

Earlier today a colleague of mine sent out an email about preparing institutions in the event of a major swine flu outbreak.  This got us - and our customers - about what measures are already in place in case disaster strikes.  And I’m pleased that many schools have already thought ahead, and that they’re including  us as part of their plan.  From Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, disaster plans have been discussed and hatched thanks to being able to meet live online with Wimba Classroom and Wimba Pronto.  In fact, Chuck Wright of the University of Utah just made this great YouTube clip about the University of Utah could carry on if it had to close its campus
Friday, May 01, 2009
Posted By mwasowski      Category

Earlier today, the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) just released its
2009 research report, Leadership for Web 2.0 in Education: Promise & Reality.  This report takes a thorough look at how Web 2.0 technologies influence and shape all facets of today’s K-12 schools.  And of course, several elements resonated with me, particularly with how they relate to Wimba.

First, CoSN reports that nearly three-quarters of respondents (superintendents and curriculum directors) said that Web 2.0 technologies had been a positive or highly positive force in student’s communication skills and the quality of their schoolwork.  Over 50% of those same administrators believe that Web 2.0 has had a positive impact on students’ interest in school, interests outside of school, self-direction in learning, sense of community and culture, peer relationships, relationships with parents and family, and homework habits. 

As a result, respondents feel that Web 2.0 tools help:
1.    Keep students interested and engaged in school
2.    Meet the needs of different kinds of learners
3.    Develop critical thinking skills
4.    Develop capabilities in students that can’t be acquired through traditional methods
5.    Provide alternative learning environments for students
6.    Extend learning beyond the school day
7.    Prepare students to be lifelong learners

Also, supporting the fact that Wimba Pronto is populated by and links to directly to a school’s existing course management system, over 60% of district administrators polled in the report believe that the use of Web 2.0 tools “should be limited to approved educational sites.”

Therefore, I couldn’t help but love how all of these findings support the rationale for adopting Wimba Pronto and the rest of the Wimba Collaboration Suite at K-12 schools.   The Suite is most comprehensive source of Web 2.0 and additional educational collaboration tools that help students learn in different ways.  Some students are visual learners, other are audible learners, and while some learn better in formal online settings, others need more informal instructional methods.  The Suite covers it all - and CoSN’s report definitely agrees.