Sylvan Learning Systems to use Internet instruction, testing

Unspecified investment made in Calif. builder of school computer labs

April 01, 1999|By Sean Somerville | Sean Somerville,SUN STAFF

In a bid to get into the classroom, Sylvan Learning Systems Inc. of Baltimore said yesterday that it will use school computer labs being built by a California-based start-up company to launch Internet teaching and testing programs.

Sylvan also said it has made an unspecified investment in the company, San Roman, Calif.-based ZapMe! Corp. The privately held company has built computer labs in 90 schools in about a dozen states since October. It plans to have labs in 2,000 schools by the end of the year.

Sylvan will offer programs primarily after school hours, and use Sylvan Learning Centers to staff and support school programs.

"ZapMe! has a powerful new distribution channel that can be used to bring tutoring, testing and other educational services to students and teachers in schools -- right where they need them most," said Doug Becker, Sylvan's co-chief executive officer.

Becker said the partnership will allow the company to create a "cost-effective network of testing centers in middle and high schools."

Lance Mortensen, chairman and chief executive officer of 3-year-old ZapMe!, said Sylvan's involvement will boost use of its labs by students and adults during and after school hours. "This partnership offers boundless opportunities to extend the reach of our business model," he said.

ZapMe! said its labs offer students high-speed Internet access, the Microsoft Office Suite, traveling bookmarks, message boards and links to 10,000 Web sites, at no cost to schools. The company would not disclose revenue or profit projections.

Peter Appert, a San Francisco-based analyst for BT Alex. Brown, said the partnership appears to work well for both companies. "It strikes me as pretty interesting in terms of leveraging Sylvan's presence into the schools," he said. "Sylvan's getting a technology platform and ZapMe! is getting proprietary content."

Pub Date: 4/01/99

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