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Future Students Will Be Taught By ‘Virtual’ Teachers Specialists Will Deliver Lectures On Computer Screens, Microsoft Executive Predicts

Sat., April 22, 1995

The computer software industry will help budgetstrapped university professors teach better and smarter, a Microsoft Corp. executive predicted Friday.

Technology will change lecturers into “learning consultants,” said Jeff Raikes, Microsoft’s marketing vice president.

Gifted, articulate specialists in each subject will be recorded and will deliver their lectures through software and multimedia presentations on campuses around the country, Raikes said.

That will allow on-campus teachers to concentrate more on working one-to-one with students, conducting research and helping teach classes in new and varied ways.

Speaking to about 80 people during a noon lunch hosted by Washington State University Spokane, Raikes described his vision of a “virtual university.’ He said new CD-ROM technology will shift jobs, improve educational efficiency and give students enormous choices.

Raikes made the presentation as part of the formal kickoff for Campaign WSU, a $200 million fundraising drive to strengthen university programs.

WSU Spokane’s portion of that figure is $4.3 million. That money will provide new computer equipment for WSU Spokane’s new Riverpoint classroom building.

It also will expand the university’s distance-learning service for off-campus programs, add faculty in construction management and architecture, and improve programs at the Intercollegiate Center for Nursing Education.

Little of the money raised will be used for the virtual university, a longer-term goal that a number of WSU committees are studying.

That concept, however, is considered important at WSU, which intends to remain in the forefront of technology use in the classroom, said WSU Spokane Campus Dean Bill Gray.

The virtual university will rely on software that lets students move at their own pace and puts them in touch with lecturers and sources from around the world, Raikes said.

“My 4-year-old son now uses software that shows him the solar system or the insides of the human body. In time, the range of material available to students will be astonishing,” Raikes said.

Raikes has been with Microsoft, the world’s largest software manufacturer, for 15 years.

“Back in 1981 we would get together and wonder if there would ever be a software company that could ever earn $100 million in a year,” he said.

Last year, said Raikes, Microsoft earned $100 million in software sales every week.

“The kind of changes we’ve gone through (in the computer industry) are going to happen in education, too.”

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