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For immediate release

Wimba Hall of Fame Winners Announced

Inaugural Class Inducted at Wimba Connect 2010 User Conference

ORLANDO, Fla., Wimba Connect 2010 User Conference – March 24, 2010 – Wimba® Inc., a leading provider of collaborative solutions for educators around the world, announced its inaugural class of “Hall of Fame for Excellence in Collaboration” inductees on Tuesday evening during an awards ceremony held at the company’s third annual user conference, Wimba Connect 2010.  Hundreds of Wimba community members—gathered from around the world to participate in the three-day conference—celebrated the remarkable use of Wimba’s collaboration solutions by this year’s Hall of Fame recipients.

Wimba’s Hall of Fame for Excellence in Collaboration, introduced in the fall of 2009, aims to acknowledge and celebrate educators around the world who have shown exemplary innovation and creativity in their use of the Wimba Collaboration Suite™.

“Selecting five inductees from the nearly 50 nominees was especially challenging in this first year because our pool of candidates was so strong,” said Matt Wasowski, senior director of customer programs at Wimba.  “I’m continually amazed by the various ways our customers utilize collaboration in, outside, and across their institutions. Comprehensive and impactful use of collaboration, innovation, leadership, creativity and enthusiasm are all hallmarks of this inaugural class. They all exhibit excellence in collaboration.”

The 2010 inaugural class of Wimba’s Hall of Fame for Excellence in Collaboration, includes:

•    Cobb County School District - Based in Marietta, Georgia, this virtual high school was created in 2001, and since 2005 has used Wimba to offer engaging online instruction to more than 1,300 students in 45 courses ranging from math and science to foreign languages.

Two years ago, due to budget constraints and a small staff, the school district’s Office of Accountability decided to migrate from face-to-face personnel trainings to online training delivered via Wimba Classroom; a daunting task seeing that this is the second largest school district in Georgia with more than 8,000 teachers and 115 schools spanning over 70 miles in suburban Atlanta.

By using Wimba for its faculty and personnel trainings, administrators and instructors no longer have to travel to a central location to receive training, and can now participate from their offices or classrooms.   In a given year, the county saves nearly $6,000 in mileage reimbursement costs and almost $18,000 in terms of lost productivity, for a total annual savings of  $23,500. Cobb County demonstrates how    comprehensive and impactful the Wimba Collaboration Suite can be for rich online instruction and meetings.

Representing Cobb County School District at last evening’s awards ceremony was Christi Osborne, Online Learning Specialist; Beverly Addison, Supervisor; and Allen Newsome, Technology Literacy Coach.

•    Idaho Digital Learning Academy (IDLA) – Based in Boise, Idaho, IDLA has used Wimba since 2004 to offer students in Idaho the opportunity to take classes not offered in their local school districts. Three years ago, after demonstrating great success in the classroom, IDLA began using Wimba to deliver professional development to teachers geographically dispersed across the large state.   

Since the fall of 2008, every region and school district within Idaho has participated in hundreds of webinars and trainings – covering topics such as School Improvement, Educational Technology, Curriculum, Instruction and Implementation, as well as webinars for students. Through its survey data, IDLA estimates that in one year the state saved nearly $120,000 in mileage reimbursement costs, eliminated over 7,200 “out of office” hours and even removed nearly 237,000 pounds of carbon dioxide.

Representing the academy at last evening’s awards ceremony was Mike Caldwell, Director of IDLA.

•    University of Georgia (UGA) – Since 2001, UGA has embraced Wimba’s collaboration solutions for a broad range of uses, including offering engaging online courses for tens of thousands of students that run the gamut from sociology and history to engineering and agriculture, as well as running meetings for thousands of faculty and staff across the state.

Three years ago, after seeing benefits such as increased retention rates and reduced dropout rates in the University’s student body, UGA’s Cooperative Extension Department began using Wimba to hold statewide staff meetings – saving money and environment while increasing participation. Its 2007 assessment indicated it saved more than $20,000 by meeting live online via Wimba, eliminating approximately 21 tons of carbon dioxide by reducing time spent driving to meeting sites.

Recent budget constraints also led UGA (Extension/FACS Extension) to hold a regional conference for schools across the Southeastern United States entirely online via Wimba. This conference, which had for years met face-to-face, was discovered to be more successful online with doubled attendance and more than $30,000 saved in registration fees, mileage reimbursement and meal costs.

Representing UGA at last evening’s awards ceremony was Robert Ethier, Instructional Technology Support Specialist; Janet Sylvia, Digital Media Professional; and Dr. Janet Valente, Program Development Specialist.

•    California State University, Chico – Joining the Wimba family in 1999, Chico is the longest-tenured Hall of Fame inductee and a global pioneer of distance education.  Chico was the first Wimba customer to use video, create a rubric for measuring the success of online courses, as well as offer true hybrid classes in which students could login live online to classes simultaneously being taught on-campus in a face-to-face classroom. Chico even boasts the first instructor to win a national award specifically for her creative use of Wimba Classroom.

For over a decade, Chico has used Wimba to increase the reach of its curriculum, serving students in an area the size of Ohio, while also enriching their curriculum offering by bringing instructors in from all over the world.  For example, after sociology students read a memoir titled, “Not My Turn to Die: Memoirs of a Broken Childhood in Bosnia,” the author, Savo Heleta, addressed the class live from his home in South Africa using Wimba Classroom. Students were so inspired by the author’s personal transformation and devotion to world peace, they collected funds to purchase him a new laptop with a built-in camera after learning he borrowed one for their lecture.

It is this enthusiastic and enduring embrace of collaboration that marks Chico as a Hall of Fame inductee.

•    Kamehameha Schools Distance Learning – Representing one of the most unique instructional use cases of collaboration, Kamehameha Schools Distance Learning is using Wimba to save Hawaii’s indigenous language, which was banned with the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarch in 1893.  By 1979, only 30 children under the age of 13 were able to speak their native tongue, triggering a grassroots effort to revive the language.

Kamehameha Schools Distance Learning uses the podcast and recording features of Wimba Voice, and more recently the instant collaboration available with Wimba Pronto, to teach high school students and adult learners within Hawaii, on the US mainland and across the Pacific.  Averaging 50-70 students, Kamehameha Schools Distance Learning has taught nearly 700 learners since its program started, emphasizing instruction of entire families with diverse learning styles.

Instructional Designer Clinton Iwami made the long trip from Honolulu to represent Kamehameha Schools Distance Learning at last evening’s ceremony.

The Wimba Collaboration Suite, awarded the 2009 “Best Education Solution” CODiE Award by the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), offers students, teachers, and administrators a comprehensive live collaboration environment for dynamic instruction, efficient meetings and effective delivery of academic and administrative help, and includes:

•    Wimba Classroom™ - A live, virtual learning environment that includes audio, video, application sharing and content display used for formal, scheduled instruction and meetings.

•    Wimba Pronto™ - An instant collaboration system designed to promote learning through group work and academic and administrative help.

•    Wimba Voice™ - An audio solution for anytime vocal instruction, practice, collaboration, coaching and assessment, especially in language learning.