Pennsylvania schools add AOL
- By Nicholas Morehead
- May 11, 2001
Pennsylvania has become the fourth state after Virginia, Florida and Maryland
to partner with America Online Inc. to provide students with AOL's educational
As a result of the partnership, all public schools in the state will be
provided with a special Pennsylvania-oriented version of AOL's free [email protected] software.
The software alone offers a range of services, including dictionaries, encyclopedias,
reading and math resources, and e-mail and instant messaging capabilities.
It also has age-appropriate safety tools to keep minors from accessing inappropriate
materials on the World Wide Web.
But the version of the software for Pennsylvania is special because it is
the first version to include a "state focus" feature that provides locally
oriented information selected and programmed by state education officials.
AOL provides the technology necessary to enable all Pennsylvania schools
to have access to the program's unique live content windows. The live content
windows are AOL pop-ups that provide links to information sources at the
state's Department of Education Web site.
Teachers and administrators will now have online access to specific, tailored
information, such as state standards, staff development initiatives, state
education news and teacher-certification facts.
"Many states want the ability to link all their schools with their departments
of education, and we're giving them that through the pop-up windows installed
on the software," said Billy Kenny, a spokesman for AOL. "The schools and
states can do whatever they want in terms of the information available;
we're just providing the parameters."
"With this new version of the software, we're bringing together new resources
that have never been marketed before," said Al Bowman, a spokesman for the
Pennsylvania Department of Education. "AOL is looking at this endeavor as
philanthropy, but what is it going to cost our school districts? Zero."
AOL already partners with Dell Computer Corp., the leading provider of computers
to K-12 schools, to prepackage its [email protected] software on computers sold
to schools. The company recently partnered with TestU, an online standardized
test preparation service, to jointly provide a comprehensive online Scholastic
Assessment Test preparatory course.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge has been supportive of technology for educational
purposes. In 1998, Ridge introduced his "Link-to-Learn" program, which
provided grants to help students achieve state academic standards in reading,
writing and math through the use of technology.