Pennsylvania schools add AOL software

Pennsylvania has become the fourth state after Virginia, Florida and Maryland

to partner with America Online Inc. to provide students with AOL's educational

software.

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

AOL@School software.

The software 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 AOL@School software on

computers sold to schools. The company recently partnered with TestU, an

online standardized test preparation service, to jointly provide a comprehensive

online SAT preparatory course.

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