South-Western Educational Publishing, a division of Thomson Learning, has agreed to publish for widespread sale a series of interactive learning CD-ROMs produced by researchers at the Institute for Policy Studies.
South-Western is an education market leader in courseware for workplace-related instruction in business and office education, career readiness and applied communication.
"What this agreement means is that we'll be able to upgrade the CD-ROMs with a substantial corporate investment to bring them to a larger market," said Arnold H. Packer, a senior fellow at IPS and head of the CD-ROM project.
Each of the seven CD-ROMs, developed by IPS researchers who specialize in education and employment training, presents an interesting and challenging interactive experience that helps students learn by doing real-world activities.
The CD-ROMs are designed to teach workplace-readiness skills as identified by the U.S. Labor Department's Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills, or SCANS. Packer was the executive director of SCANS.
In one, for example, students work in teams to diagnose quality-control problems at a manufacturing plant. As students work through the CD-ROM, they are presented with workers and different parts of the plant. They gather information as they go, reviewing records and "interviewing" plant workers, who are played by actors. Finally, they're asked to use statistics and other analytical tools to suggest solutions.
"There's really nothing like these out there," said Peter D. McBride, publishing director at South-Western. "We're very excited to have this opportunity to bring what Dr. Packer and the talented Hopkins project team have developed so creatively to students and trainers across America."
Three CD-ROMs teach English, math and teamwork skills and were developed over the last four years in collaboration with Baltimore high schools. Preliminary results have shown that students learning through the interactive CDs pass their English and math exams at much higher rates than those who learned using traditional methods, Packer said.
The other four CD-ROMs were developed by Hopkins and several community college partners across the country, with support funding through the National Science Foundation's Advanced Technological Education program. A number of colleges are currently using these CDs, and more are planning to begin using them.
Officials from Hopkins and South-Western/Thomson Learning are hopeful they can have the CD-ROMs ready for market by spring or summer 2000.
To view a demo of the CD-ROMs, go to http://www.scans.jhu.edu/demo.html.