Microsoft creates Classroom Teacher Network

Microsoft Corp. announced Tuesday the creation of the Classroom Teacher Network (CTN), a free, online service that will provide teachers with access to professional development tools, including software tutorials, links to Web resources and online seminars.

Bob Herbold , executive vice president and chief operating officer for Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft, said the company plans to commit $26.6 million in software and cash to teacher training programs in the next year.

Catherine Thurston, director of the Office of Educational Technology in the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said her school has been using Microsoft software and teacher training programs for the last two years and is eagerly anticipating the debut of CTN.

"The materials and software do a lot for student teachers and K-12 teachers by helping them integrate productivity tools into classroom projects and lessons," Thurston said. "We participated in teacher workshops this summer for the second straight year, and they have also been extremely effective."

Thurston said one component of CTN that seems especially promising is the "New Teachers' Corner," which will provide first-year teachers with a forum to exchange ideas and find mentors via e-mail. "As far as support groups for novice teachers, there's not a lot out there," she said. "Connecting people electronically as they leave the university setting is really important."

Educators can join CTN on Oct.1, by signing up on the Microsoft Education Web site at www.microsoft.com/education/.

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