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Next-Gen Educator Earns USDLA Award for Innovative Mediasite Course

Madison, Wis. – A professor and her Mediasite coursecast won the highest accolades at the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) National Conference last week. Professor Diane Zorn won the USDLA Excellence in Teaching for Online Distance Learning award for her use of Sonic Foundry’s (Nasdaq: SOFO) market-leading webcasting platform in a fully-online, rich media Philosophy course at York University.

“As a premier organization for the entire distance learning profession, we are honoring Diane Zorn and Sonic Foundry as leaders in their industries,” said Dr. John G. Flores, chief executive officer of USDLA. “Together they have raised the bar of excellence, and we are truly honored by their contributions to the distance learning industry.”

Facing skepticism from other faculty members that a distance learning course could fulfill the course requirements, Zorn applied for and won a grant to develop a rich media coursecast powered by Mediasite by Sonic Foundry. Her goal for students taking the online course was for them to learn tangible skills, not only concepts. “The design of the course, which wouldn’t be possible without Mediasite, assumes that greater quality means greater individualization of learning,” said Zorn.

Zorn uses the Mediasite platform to create student-centered, highly interactive rich media courses that promote deep and durable learning. She incorporates built-in continuous assessment, asynchronous discussion, clarification of expectations, website orientation and synchronous, real-time interactions. Her courses-which teach business ethics and philosophy to first, second and third-year undergraduate level students-range in class size from 50 to 90 students. About 10 percent of her students are adult learners from age 30 to 50. The enrolled students are learning remotely from the Greater Toronto area, across Canada and the United States, Australia, Pakistan, the Middle East and Europe.

Students can select the content delivery mode they prefer: about 10 percent use video hand-held devices to view the lectures, such as video iPods, another 30 percent use mp3 players to listen to the lectures while the majority of students view the lectures on their PCs or Macs.

“In our opinion and many others, Professor Zorn has taken lecture capture to an entirely new level,” said Rimas Buinevicius, chairman and CEO of Sonic Foundry. “We are immensely proud of the ways she has capitalized on Mediasite’s capabilities. She is truly on the leading edge of meeting the diverse needs of her students within a flexible, interactive learning community.”

The USDLA presented the award on April 23 at the 2008 International Distance Learning Awards in conjunction with its 2008 National Conference in St. Louis, Missouri. Since 1987, USDLA has been the world’s premier distance learning association. The USDLA International Awards program annually awards outstanding individuals and organizations engaged in the development and delivery of distance learning programs.

Through her pioneering use of Mediasite in the classroom, Zorn also won York’s University-Wide Teaching Award in 2007, and has been nominated for the Commonwealth of Learning Excellence in Distance Education Award in 2008.

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