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Min. of Ed. initiative to narrow digital divide


News release:

MINISTRY OF EDUCATION EMPOWERS NZ SCHOOLS WITH THE HELP OF ORACLE'S THINK.COM

NZ first in Asia Pacific to roll out Oracle's global educational initiative

AUCKLAND, 11 October 2001 --- New Zealand's Ministry of Education has entered an alliance with Oracle Corporation to roll out Oracle's Think.com, an innovative web-based educational environment that provides primary and secondary schools with powerful tools enabling collaborative learning over the Internet.

New Zealand will be the first country in the Asia Pacific region and the fourth country in the world, after the United States, United Kingdom and Chile, to roll out Think.com, a global Oracle Education Initiative designed to assist schools implement and use state-of-the-art technology as part of their everyday education.

Oracle will host the Think.com environment at no charge, while the Ministry will manage the content, the implementation in schools, and Think.com training for teachers.

The Ministry elected to join the Think.com programme as part of its Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Strategy for Schools, 2002-2004, which recognises the importance of helping the education sector make effective use of technology in teaching and learning.

"Think.com will help bring our schools to the leading edge of educational technology by helping students and teachers strengthen their technology skills, while enriching the overall learning experience," says Education Minister, Trevor Mallard.

Trevor Mallard says that Think.com also links to the government's vision of enabling all students, irrespective of their backgrounds, to develop the knowledge, understandings, skills and attitudes to participate and succeed in our information-rich global economy.

The New Zealand implementation of Think.com will be 100% local in content, offering a protected and customised internet environment that includes personal web pages, email accounts, and the ability to create, interact and collaborate in local and global online communities. The advertisement-free service also provides a place for teachers to post mutlimedia lesson plans, tutorials and research activities that help make learning an engaging, fun and safe experience.

"The Ministry will be working with Ultralab, a British education research institute that is involved in the original and on-going design of Think.com and the "Talking Heads" principal network, to help customise the New Zealand implementation by creating frameworks for lesson plans and tutorials in the New Zealand context," says Carol Moffatt, Head of ICT Strategy at the Ministry of Education.

The New Zealand roll out will comprise two pilot phases, the first of which is scheduled to begin January 2002, with 600 principals receiving a new personal computer, software, internet connection and access to the Think.com environment. An additional 600 principals will join Think.com each year for four years.

The second pilot, scheduled to begin February 2002, will roll out Think.com to 23 Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Professional Development (PD) schools, as identified in the Ministry's ICT strategy. Approximately 6000 students will be involved.

"General adoption of Think.com by New Zealand schools will begin as early as January 2003, targeting an eventual total population of 735,000 students from year 1 to 13, and approximately 41,000 teachers over a period of four years," explained Moffatt.

Think.com is one of five worldwide Oracle Education Initiatives designed to assist schools with the implementation and use of the state-of-the-art technology for educational purposes.

"Internet technology is the key to providing children with a world rich in information, allowing them to learn in an optimal manner right in the classroom," says Leigh Warren, Oracle New Zealand Managing Director. "Creative solutions from communities and corporations are the best way to ensure that students are prepared to face globalisation."

Leigh Warren says that the company is delighted to support a wider initiative that facilitates innovative and engaging learning.

"It is essential that New Zealand students have access to the tools and skills they need to advance and prosper in the knowledge economy ? and Internet technology is a big part of this. Think.com helps educators use technology to positively impact children's basic learning," says Warren.

Commenting on the significant alliance between the Ministry and Oracle, Nicole Melander, Vice President of Oracle Think.com, said "New Zealand was elected to implement this programme because of its dedication to use the Internet in schools, its modernisation effort in the educational area, and for the quality of its communications ".

The Ministry will be working closely with bilingual educational portal Te Kete Ipurangi (TKI), or the Online Learning Centre, to help bring Think.com to schools throughout the programme's pilot phases.

---- ENDS ----

*** About Think.com technology Think.com is a free, web-based collaborative environment for primary and secondary students and teachers. Children are given the tools and space to create and share their work online, promoting a collaborative learning community, while teachers are provided the infrastructure to post lessons and homework using visually stimulating tools such as multimedia video images accompanied with audio stream.

Think.com uses the power of Oracle's database technology to host, manage and operate remotely from the United States. For more information about Think.com, please visit the "About" tab at www. think.com.

*** About Ministry of Education The Ministry of Education's role is to facilitate all aspects of education in New Zealand, by working to foster an environment that enables educators to operate effectively and for learners to participate, strive and achieve results. The Ministry works to meet the needs of different communities to be responsive to their needs in order to reduce disparity and raise achievement.

For more information about New Zealand's education, visit: http://www.minedu.govt.nz/

*** About Oracle Oracle Corporation is the world's leading supplier of software for information management, and the world's second largest independent software company. With annual revenues of more than US$10 billion, the company offers its database, tools and application products, along with related consulting, education, and support services, in more than 145 countries around the world.

As a technology driven company, Oracle is committed to positively impacting children's basic learning by using its resources to assist educators with the curricular integration of technology. Think.com is one of four global Oracle educational initiatives that are dedicated to assisting schools with the implementation and use of technology. For more information about Oracle, please visit http://www.oracle.com/,

For more information, please contact Pam Wong on (021) 897 616.

Pam Wong Consultant Professional Public Relations DDI: (09) 979 2028 Mobile: 021 897 616 Fax: (09) 979 2099


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