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Microsoft New Zealand partners with MARVIN

Published: Thu 21 Feb 2008 11:23 AM
News Release
Microsoft New Zealand partners with MARVIN to launch interactive, educational software for children
MARVIN will help make technology a meaningful and relevant part of New Zealand classrooms
Rotorua, New Zealand – Thursday, February 21, 2008 – Microsoft New Zealand today announced the official launch of MARVIN, an interactive, software- based, learning tool available to New Zealand schools at no cost as part of its Partners in Learning (PiL) programme.
The software, created in Australia by the Northern Territory government, local software developers and Microsoft, is an avatar-based animation tool allowing users to design animations in minutes. Adopting a multi-sensory approach through the integration of real voice, computer generated voice, written text, images, video and Microsoft PowerPoint® presentations, users can quickly and easily create or customise presentations that accurately reflect the cultural, lingual and social attributes of target audiences.
Nils Beehre, Microsoft New Zealand’s Education Manager, says students and teachers will be able to create educational resources and content which are both engaging and culturally specific. These resources can be personalised and customised for New Zealand students.
“Schools are becoming more innovative in their teaching methods with teachers who encourage students’ passion for technology.  The use of MARVIN in classrooms will engage students and help to improve teaching and learning in New Zealand schools.”
Microsoft recently teamed up with avatar-animation specialist and MARVIN creator, J. Easterby-Wood, to facilitate no cost access to MARVIN for schools and students around the world.
“International, national and local studies have shown that the use of avatars in training, education and information services leads to better uptake of information and increased levels of participation by those groups interacting with technology. Avatar animation systems help users to interact with technology and information on a more human level,” says J.
“This is especially exciting for us as New Zealand is the first country participating in the PIL project to launch MARVIN.  New Zealand is also one of only three countries where students and teachers who excel in developing MARVIN content will have the opportunity to help implement the software in developing nations through Microsoft scholarships.”
As part of Microsoft’s Partners in Learning programme Sharon Harper, a teacher from Mt Maunganui College, will spend six months working with Core Education in Christchurch to assist in the development of New Zealand-themed avatars and will be part of the team that gives MARVIN a ‘Kiwi’ flavour.
MARVIN has received more than 23 national and international awards including a Gold Medal at the Commonwealth Innovation Awards, the Australian Information Industry Association’s Inspiration iAward and eGovernment & Services Award.  MARVIN was also a finalist in the United Nations Public Administration Awards.
 “The success of MARVIN in Australia’s Northern Territory shows that regardless of geographic position or socio-economic background, this programme is a fantastic software learning tool and a great way to get students at all levels involved in the learning process,” says J.
Microsoft's Partners in Learning (PiL) program seeks to enhance learning outcomes for students through the integration of technology in the classroom. For more information on Microsoft’s Partners in Learning programme visit: http://www.microsoft.com/nz/education/pil/default.mspx.  For more information on MARVIN please visit: www.marvin.com.au/school.
About Microsoft New Zealand
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realise their full potential.
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Microsoft, Windows and Windows Media are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.
The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.
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