Microsoft New Zealand announced today that MARVIN, an interactive software-based learning tool, will now be available to all qualifying New Zealand schools at no cost.
Microsoft made the announcement in Christchurch at ULearn, the country’s largest conference for New Zealand educators.
MARVIN software is an avatar-based animation tool which allows users to design animations in minutes. Users can quickly and easily create or customise presentations and adopt a multi-sensory approach through the integration of real and computer-generated voice, written text, images, video and Microsoft PowerPoint presentations.
Academic research has long recognised the benefits of virtual-reality education tools such as MARVIN. For example, these tools increase motivation, illustrate some concepts better than classroom instruction and replace passivity with encouraging, active participation. In particular, simulations like MARVIN foster and encourage critical thinking by enabling students to query for information, make logical connections, and trace "webs" of influence in literature, history and other disciplines.
“We feel proud to now be able to offer New Zealand schools MARVIN at no cost as part of Microsoft’s Partners in Learning programme” says Nils Beehre, Microsoft New Zealand’s Education Manager.
“The MARVIN software is a great way for students to express their creativity through 3D animation and digital storytelling. We know that teachers and students like using Marvin to support their learning: it’s a very rich and engaging education platform. Teachers and students are also able to create their own content that is specifically relevant to them.
“We will continue to build on MARVIN’s success through ongoing initiatives and we are looking forward to the next instalment we can offer to New Zealand teachers and students,” he says.
Originally launched in New Zealand in 2008, MARVIN licenses and the full avatar character library were available to schools for $200. More than 350 schools have registered and are currently using the programme. The original package included a library of approximately 200 avatar characters.
From today, schools who register will receive no-cost licenses for use in their school with a pack that includes 20 New Zealand-specific avatar characters sponsored by Microsoft. Additional characters in the library are available for purchase and download.
The success of MARVIN software has resulted in two new initiatives: the launch of MARVINtube, an interactive Web site where students can submit clips of their characters online to share, rate and offer comments, and a national 3D animation and digital story-telling competition to be launched next year, developed in conjunction with MARVIN, NTICED, EGL Limited and Weta Workshop.
Schools can register online for the MARVIN software at www.marvin.co.nz. Once their application has been approved they will automatically receive a notification instructing them on how to download the software and a license key to unlock the software. This will include the 20 Avatar characters sponsored by Microsoft for download at no cost.
Microsoft's Partners in Learning (PiL) programme seeks to enhance learning outcomes for students through the integration of technology in classrooms. For more information on the programme visit: www.partnersinlearning.co.nz.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realise their full potential.