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Thomson Higher Education Charts a New Course in Customer Care with ThomsonNOW


User-Designed Online Suite of Resources and Tools Heeds Student and Instructor Directives to Deliver True Educational Value

Belmont, CA, 02/02/2006
Thomson Higher Education, a global provider of teaching solutions for higher education and part of The Thomson Corporation (TSX: TOC; NYSE: TOC), today launches ThomsonNOW, an integrated online suite of course-management resources and services that utilizes a first-of-its kind approach to educational technology development aimed at maximizing its value to and optimizing its use among Thomson customers.

Designed by college students and instructors for college students and instructors, ThomsonNOW addresses the real-world demands of real-life classrooms to spark measurable performance improvements in the management of coursework throughout the college curriculum. The result of extensive usability testing with instructors and students, on-campus interviews and many months of in-class trials, the program is an easy-to-use teaching and learning system that helps instructors streamline the assignment, grading and reporting processes and gives students access to personalized learning plans and resources that support their learning styles.

When Thomson set out to develop ThomsonNOW it didn’t start with software developers, it started with customers. Instructors asked for reliable choices for delivering course content and assignments and time-saving ways to grade and provide feedback. Students wanted the shortest path to learning, one that would show them exactly “what they need to know now.”

“We recognized that professors and students needed an all-in-one resource to support both teaching and learning,” said Susan Badger, CEO of Thomson Higher Education. “ThomsonNOW was designed around day-to-day workflow tasks for students and professors, and provides personalized services and tools that lead to a more effective and efficient teaching and learning experience. Overall, ThomsonNOW saves instructors time and improves student performance.”

It also gives instructors choices in the way they deliver its services and tools. They control how and when students complete assignments, quizzes and tests. They choose how to create tests, using provided textbook content or their own questions. Students told Thomson they wanted a simple way to know what is due each day and what is coming due, not just in one course but in all their courses. So the ThomsonNOW student home page shows students their assignments from all the courses they are taking.

In addition, ThomsonNOW offers personalized learning plans to help students focus on what they still need to learn and allows them to select the activities, videos, animations, web links and textbook pages that best match their learning styles. ThomsonNOW also offers self-paced tutorial systems with examples, step-by-step problem-solving help, unlimited practice, video lessons and quizzes with instant feedback. And with ThomsonNOW, students have options in the way they choose to learn, read and purchase their learning resources. ThomsonNOW gives students access to just what they need to know – not a review of what is already learned. Other benefits to students include:

• Live Online Tutors: vMentor is a free, online, live tutoring service integrated within ThomsonNOW for many courses.

• Ease of Use: Tabs across the top of the page make navigation easy. Assignments are categorized by “overdue,” “current” and “grades on taken assignments.”

• Online Assignment Management: Students can get assignments for a particular course, can limit the view to active assignments, and can access assignments with the flexibility to take, retake or resume.

Because instructors expressed dismay at the amount of time consumed by grading and reporting, Thomson focused on creating a time-saving ThomsonNOW gradebook with one-click paths to the most common tasks instructors perform when grading and reporting. ThomsonNOW makes it easy for instructors to plan, manage, communicate, assign, access, track and report a student’s progress in a given course.

Benefits to instructors include:

• Streamlined Registration Process. Little information is needed from students, making registration a snap.

• Time Savings: ThomsonNOW allows instructors to quickly create homework assignments that are machine-gradable.

• Variety of Problem Types: To meet each instructor’s individual teaching preferences, ThomsonNOW offers a wide variety of problem types, including multiple choice, free entry, simple tables, matching, graphing, true/false, fill in the blank, drag & drop, hot point (identity), spreadsheet problems, data analysis for statistics, and free sketching. Instructors can also edit and author questions.

• Enhanced Gradebook: Everything is “one click away” in the new gradebook as instructors can view a student’s work, add comments to coach or clarify, and change scores. Instructors even have the ability to extend due dates for individual students when needed.

• Flexibility: ThomsonNOW offers the most assignment options and assessment approaches on the market today, and provides flexibility and precision in choosing problems.

Though being officially launched today, ThomsonNOW has been in use at a number of academic institutions throughout the country as part of the program development process and is earning positive reviews from instructors and students alike.

“I just downloaded several thousand grades for midterms that were all done for me by ThomsonNOW! I found that by assigning the computer homework with ThomsonNOW, the students did better overall on the final exam and that the homework grades tracked more closely to the exam performance,” said Janice Epstein, senior lecturer of mathematics at Texas A&M University. “I think that algorithmic homework is of great benefit to both the student and the teacher. For the teacher, there is much less grading to do. For the student, there is more practice, which results in better performance. There is less cheating with computer assignments since they can’t copy a friend’s homework – every student has his or her own version of the question!”

Laura Matysek Wood of Tarrant County College, Northwest Campus, is also pleased with ThomsonNOW. “I enjoy the variety of resources I can choose to offer my students, the ability to plan ahead of time, the means to assess the effectiveness of my course, and the ease in copying a course from semester to semester while incorporating minor changes. I can reach my students with a variety of teaching techniques to help those with different learning styles, while not altering the basic material that I wish to cover or altering my teaching style. I have maintained, if not increased, my high retention levels of around 85 percent, while maintaining high grade standards, and I have helped to make my History courses more technologically friendly to today’s college students.”

“Surveys show that faculty are increasingly interested in using online content and instructional tools to teach their students,” said Eric Bassett, Research Director for Eduventures. “Bringing together multiple online resources to support both students and instructors can be a powerful way to increase efficiency and student success.”

ThomsonNOW is supported by the most diverse and robust customer service and training program in the industry to ensure instructors and students get the most out of the program. Customer service is available online, by phone or by e-mail. For more information on ThomsonNOW visit:

About The Thomson Corporation and Thomson Higher Education

The Thomson Corporation, with 2004 revenues of $8.10 billion, is a global leader in providing integrated information solutions to business and professional customers. Thomson provides value-added information, software tools and applications to more than 20 million users in the fields of law, tax, accounting, financial services, higher education, reference information, corporate e-learning and assessment, scientific research and healthcare. With operational headquarters in Stamford, Conn., Thomson has approximately 40,000 employees and provides services in approximately 130 countries. Thomson Higher Education is a leading provider of higher education textbooks, software, and Internet materials for the humanities, behavioral and social sciences, mathematics and the sciences, and business and economics. It publishes under the brands of Thomson Wadsworth, Thomson Brooks/Cole, Thomson South-Western, Thomson Heinle, and Thomson Schirmer.


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