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Vibal Publishing, Microsoft, launch partnership for digital education

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Two giants in their respective industries – leading educational publisher Vibal Publishing House, Inc. and the biggest global software provider Microsoft – have forged a partnership to further the advancement of digital educational endeavors in the Philippines.

At the recent Microsoft Education Summit 2012 held at Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati City, Vibal Group of Companies Chair Mrs. Esther A. Vibal and John Bessey, Microsoft Philippines Managing Director, officially launched the partnership in front of educators from different schools, colleges and universities around the country.

“In our almost 60 years as one of the premier players in the educational publishing industry, Vibal Publishing has always been committed to providing quality education for every Filipino,” said Mrs. Vibal in her well-received speech. “While we have long been a partner of the Department of Education in trying to realize this noble dream, it is only today that we are joining hands with a global giant such as Microsoft, and it goes without saying that we have big hopes and expectations for such a partnership.”

Aside from Bessey, other Microsoft officials who welcomed Mrs. Vibal were Tracey Fellows (Area Vice President, Microsoft Asia-Pacific) and Ms. Michelle Casio, Education Lead for Microsoft Philippines.

Undersecretary Ruth Fuentes of the Department of Education, who delivered the keynote address for the summit, lauded the partnership, which is in line with the agency's drive for the enhancement of learning experiences of students.

One of the most effective alternatives is by making educational content available digitally. Leading this charge is Vibal Publishing House, which has sought to bring the industry to the future by creating innovations in content development and supplementary materials, tapping technological tools to make learning more experiential.

Its latest flagship product is the e-textbook, developed under the “Future of Learning” initiative. E-books are digital counterparts of the printed textbooks developed by Vibal, but feature innovations beyond print such as rich multimedia content, embedded knowledge base, among other supplementary additions that aim to enhance the reading and learning experience of students.

In the same vein, Microsoft Philippines, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the US-based Microsoft Corporation, is involved in programs emphasizing the use of technology to enhance educational enterprises. Among these is the Microsoft Tools for Education project, and the Partners in Learning program, which works to integrate technology into teaching, learning and research, and has already reached more than 3 million students and teachers in the Philippines.


E-textbooks in the Philippines

Digital textbooks have made a foothold in Philippine schools since last year, with Vibal leading the venture through partnerships with various educational institutions.

In June 2011, locally-engineered eRizal tablets were given out to 1,000 public school students in Laguna, featuring a library of Rizaliana classics provided by Vibal's philantropic arm, Vibal Foundation. The following month, Foundation University in Dumaguete was the first to purchase 8 Vibal e-textbooks for their iPad2 units.

In September 2011, La Salle Greenhills became the first school to roll out an entire digital curriculum in its elementary to high school honor classes, with 14 digital e-textbooks deployed by Vibal on 500 Galaxy Samsung tablets.

More schools are expected to join the digital shift with recent announcements for pilot classes to begin adopting e-textbooks when the next schoolyear starts in June.


From paper to tablets

Vibal's e-textbooks are powered by the internally-engineered Vibal KnowledgeBase digital encyclopedia and features a variety of interactive applications that take learning beyond the printed page. These include animated springboards to enhance lesson presentations, audio and video clips that reinforce textual reading, study tips, and self-scoring quizzes that give immediate feedback to learning. Teachers will also be provided with annotated teacher's edition ebooks which includes a lesson guide, answer keys, and teaching tips, among other tools for using the ebook as a teaching device.

Vibal e-textbooks are currently available for iOS and Android platforms. Through the partnership with Microsoft, Vibal will be making its e-textbooks compatible to the Windows OS and for desktop platforms as well. Engaging digital content are expected to be loaded on Windows desktops and tablets within the year, to address the growing demand for more effective learning.

Michelle Casio of Microsoft Philippines also explained: “Technology has and will always be part of the learning process of students and teachers alike. It is not just a tool in educating the young minds but is also an instrument that can be utilized to improve, strengthen and enhance the teaching and learning experiences of both the teachers and the students.”

“We at Microsoft are looking forward to working with Vibal Publishing to provide the best educational opportunities we can offer to the students and future leaders of our country,” she added.

Mrs. Vibal meanwhile said that the company has big hopes and expectations for the partnership with Microsoft: “With this partnership, we commit ourselves anew to bigger dreams and bigger hopes where the education of generations of Filipinos is concerned.” ###