NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - April 29, 2008) - Wimba®, the education technology company that helps people teach people, today announced that Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) is the first institution to select the new Wimba Pronto™ to enhance student engagement. Leveraging Wimba's new academic-centric instant messaging platform, Grand Rapids Community College will foster informal collaboration between students and faculty through pre-populated classmates tab, a tutoring and office-hours mode, and rich communication tools.

GRCC has been providing an excellent, affordable education to all who seek it since 1914 when it was the first 2-year college in Michigan and the seventh in the country. The college offers over 150 degree options in Arts and Sciences and Workforce Development. Student enrollment on the urban campus for both credit and non-credit courses averages 26,000 per year.

"After testing Wimba Pronto Basic, we quickly recognized how much instant messaging technology could benefit our community, enabling students to informally collaborate with each other and faculty anytime and from any location, in ways that were simply not possible before," said Garry Brand, Director of Distance Learning and Instructional Technologies at Grand Rapids Community College. "The new Wimba Pronto is especially important for enhancing engagement with our student population who do not live on campus and are often juggling work and family while taking courses."

Brand, who is also an Associate Professor, is looking forward to using the new video and application sharing features for virtual office hours.

GRCC has kicked off a comprehensive implementation and student-faculty adoption initiative to roll the new Wimba Pronto out across its college.

The new Wimba Pronto is the only instant messaging platform designed for education to advance and promote learning with a unique set of tools that distinguish it from other messenger platforms. For example, institutions can provide real-time access to campus services for students to instantly interact with the IT Department, Registrar and Financial Aid Office among others. The queued chat capability enables faculty to hold online office hours where students "line up" in a virtual setting for individualized help. Other features specifically targeted for academia include automatic population of classmates and courses and blended audio and video conferencing for students and professors to interact in a group setting using their preferred media.

"Community colleges have always faced the challenge of helping students feel connected to their academic studies and institutions," said Yancy Oshita, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Wimba. "We are delighted that Grand Rapids Community College has selected the new Wimba Pronto to cultivate a campus community and bring informal learning settings online."

Wimba Pronto is part of the Wimba Collaboration Suite™ which facilitates the use of online video, voice, instant messaging, content authoring, application sharing and white boarding. The Wimba Collaboration Suite works seamlessly within existing online courses enabling convenient single sign-on for instructors and students to access the collaborative elements from within their course environment. The Wimba Collaboration Suite integrates with the most widely used course management systems including the Angel, Blackboard and Moodle platforms.

About Grand Rapids Community College

Today, GRCC's eight-block downtown campus includes several classroom buildings, a learning center and library, Spectrum Theater, the Applied Technology Center, a remodeled music building, a fieldhouse with natatorium, a student center (including the Diversity Learning Center), Bostwick Commons, and the state-of-the-art Calkins Science Center. An off-campus "Learning Corner" has been added to serve the East Hills and Eastown neighborhoods as well as the greater Grand Rapids Community. In addition, GRCC has two Michigan Technical Education Centers (M-TECs®) in West Michigan. The Patrick Thompson M-TEC®, located in Holland, opened in Fall 2000 in partnership with the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District. Its open entry/open exit instruction eliminates the need for students in manufacturing and industry-related occupational programs to conform to a traditional semester time frame. The Leslie E. Tassell M-TEC® in Grand Rapids opened in 2002. This world-class facility offers training in manufacturing, auto service, and building and construction trades.

The diverse student body represents students from Kent and surrounding counties as well as students from across the U.S. and 22 other nations. Another 10,000 learners are served by non-credit instructional opportunities. In addition to traditional classroom environments, students may also receive instruction through community and distant service-learning offerings, seminars, workshops, training classes, distance learning options and other educational formats. GRCC employs a faculty of more than 250 full-time and 350 part-time members as well as a staff of 650, all of whom are focused on the College's priorities to be student-centered, collaborative, and flexible. Throughout its 90-year history of academic excellence, GRCC has maintained a solid reputation as a premier transfer institution and is nationally recognized for both its liberal arts and occupational programs.

About Wimba

Wimba is a leading provider of collaborative learning software applications and services to the education industry. Our collaborative software applications for the online and blended education market enable institutions to bridge technology and pedagogy by supplementing course management systems with many of the proven disciplines of in-person learning environments. Wimba's intuitive solutions enable educators and students to quickly and easily teach and learn live online, engage in live chat and instant message exchanges, benefit from oral content being added to text-based course content, and more. Instructors can also use Wimba solutions to convert Microsoft Word documents into accessible web pages and to create and administer tests, quizzes, and exams. Our focus on education and collaboration with educators fuels our product development. For more information, please visit or send an email to

Wimba. People Teach People.

Contact Information: Wimba PR Contact Melissa Chotiner DBC Public Relations +