Seven Premier Online Course Partners Join Fathom University of Washington, University of Florida, Iowa State University, USC School of Engineering Distance Education Network, the University at Buffalo, FT Knowledge, and OnlineLearning.netAdd Course

September 13, 2000

NEW YORK — Seven institutions at the forefront of online education will provide hundreds of online courses for Fathom, the unique knowledge and education Web site. Universities including the University of Washington, University of Florida, Iowa State University, The University at Buffalo, USC School of Engineering Distance Education Network, and leading course developers FT Knowledge (providing courses from the University of Michigan Business School and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania) and (providing courses from UCLA Extension), will offer extensive professional and online enrichment courses through Fathom’s Web Site. The market leaders in online courses, Fathom’s course providers have strong established histories in providing quality distance education.

The Fathom site will feature the intellectual resources of top universities and cultural institutions. The online course partners announced today will offer courses in the context of the knowledge environment created by Fathom’s partner and member institutions, including Columbia University, London School of Economics and Political Science, Cambridge University Press, The British Library, The New York Public Library, the University of Chicago, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, American Film Institute, RAND, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Courses from Fathom’s partner and member institutions, in addition to other online learning and knowledge products (such as books and periodicals), will also be available on the site.

The university course providers are all ranked as “R1” in the Carnegie Institution’s higher education classification system, as are the universities whose courses are developed in association with FT Knowledge and R1 universities offer a wide range of baccalaureate programs and award 50 or more doctoral degrees per year across at least 15 disciplines.

“The high-quality online courses from our new providers will enable Fathom visitors to enhance their professional skills and explore topics they are passionate about,” said Ann Kirschner, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of Fathom. “Best of all, visitors will broaden their knowledge with courses offered at prices and at times appropriate to their individual needs, without having to leave home or work. Combined with Fathom’s broad offering of public content, ranging from free lectures to Web casts and courses from our prestigious university, museum, library and research institutions, knowledge consumers have new and unprecedented access to education and flexibility over their learning experiences.”

Fathom’s course offerings mesh seamlessly with the free knowledge content and products found on the site. For example, if a visitor types in “Shakespeare” as a search term, a list of articles and lectures on Shakespeare will appear on the screen. In this context, Fathom will feature related online courses, such as “Shakespeare to 1603” from the University of Washington, as well as related products such as an electronic book collection of his sonnets. Similarly, in the context of streaming video of a panel discussion titled “The Internet and E-commerce: Where is it Going” from the Columbia Business School, Fathom will feature online courses such as “E-Commerce for Businesses on the Internet,” from UCLA Extension, offered through, and a Wharton eBusiness course on “Models and Applications for E-Commerce” offered through FT Knowledge.

Requests for enrollment will be handled conveniently and securely through the Fathom Web site. Most online courses offered by Fathom’s providers will have open enrollment, meaning there are no prerequisites for registration. Fathom does not grant degrees or administer individual courses. Each university or cultural institution offering courses through Fathom will set tuition, fees, accreditation, admission policies, and length of courses. In addition to selecting from featured online courses, visitors can locate other online courses through a directory of over 1,000 from R1 institutions, or browse for them by subject area.

“We’re extremely excited to be a vital part of Fathom,” stated David Szatmary, vice provost, University of Washington Educational Outreach. “Fathom’s ability to allow users to pinpoint certain online courses provides us with access to a targeted audience fascinated by a particular subject. The University of Washington’s long experience in distance learning, combined with Fathom’s dedication to the user experience, promises a stellar partnership.”

“The combination of Fathom’s extensive knowledge resources and’s results-oriented offerings benefits online students and UCLA Extension faculty,” stated John E. Kobara, president and CEO of, the for-profit company representing UCLA Extension. “Above all, it provides a unique opportunity for busy professionals eager to continue their education.”

Universities offering courses through Fathom include:

  • University of Washington

    Since 1912, the University of Washington has designed distance education courses that emphasize academic excellence and flexibility. Today, the UW has assumed a leadership role in distance learning among research institutions in the United States. The university currently offers 10 degrees, 17 certificate programs and 270 courses in online and video formats, and attracts about 7,000 enrollments per year in distance learning activities. The UW coordinates a consortium of 30 major research institutions – that offers significant and cutting-edge distance learning programs, as well as a consortium of 20 other institutions – – that share content on a research television/Web casting channel. The UW also participates in the Association of Pacific Rim Universities and the Internet2 group.

  • The University of Washington has developed exciting and robust student/faculty support infrastructures for its distance learning experiences. Among them are MyUW (, which customizes the UW experience for all types of students and groups, and UW Online (, a student/faculty support infrastructure the UW developed jointly with Microsoft. The UWired program features a series of innovative tools for faculty to integrate technology into their classes through the Catalyst Program ( The UW has also created the Center for Distance Learning Research (

  • The UW was recently awarded two major federal grants for distance learning activity. The Learning Anywhere Anytime Partnership (LAAP) grant provides $1.4 million to the UW for Internet-related certificate programs for IT professionals and features a partnership with Prentice Hall/Pearson, PBS, and the World Organization of Webmasters. A $1.5 million grant from the Department of Labor provides for a distance learning version of a modular degree in Computing and Software Systems; this program includes the Washington state governor’s office, three private industry councils, and three local community colleges as partners.

  • SC School of Engineering Distance Education Network

    For nearly thirty years, the USC School of Engineering has provided its nationally-ranked, graduate-level programs to the full-time working engineer through its Distance Education Network (DEN). More recently, students also have had the opportunity to explore classes in law and business. With a long and established history at the University of Southern California, the School of Engineering today has 147 full-time faculty in eight departments serving over 1,700 undergraduates and 2,400 graduate students, utilizing state-of-the-art laboratories, classrooms, and interactive broadcast and Web cast systems. The School is a major research center in Southern California, maintaining a robust research program of approximately $100 million through strong ties with government and cutting-edge contemporary craft and practice of the emerging digital arts.

  • The University at Buffalo

    The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the State University of New York. UB’s more than 23,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students pursue their academic interests through more than 100 undergraduate programs, 112 master’s programs and 98 doctoral-level programs. It offers the only degrees in law, pharmacy and architecture in the SUNY system, and is the home of the only comprehensive public school of engineering in New York State. UB conducts approximately $125 million in sponsored research annually. The University at Buffalo’s Millard Fillmore College of Continuing Education provides the institutional focus for UB’s distance-learning programs, advocacy for nontraditional students, and the development of lifelong learning opportunities.

  • The University of Florida

    The University of Florida, a comprehensive research university, offers more programs on a single campus than all but two other universities. Florida is a member of the Association of American Universities, the prestigious higher education organization comprised of the top 61 public and private institutions in North America.

  • The University of Florida distance education program has offered courses and programs in Engineering, Agriculture, Health Sciences, and Business for many years. Currently, U.F. has 18,000 students enrolled in online, satellite, and video courses both on campus and around the world.

    Coordination of distance learning is provided by the Office of Instructional Resources (OIR). OIR offers support to faculty for the development of courses that integrate the use of technology instruction.

    Iowa State University

    Iowa State University is internationally recognized as an outstanding comprehensive university, with a vigorous liberal arts education and some of the world’s leading research in the biological and physical sciences. Iowa State is one of only 61 major research universities in the United States and Canada named to the prestigious Association of American Universities.

    Iowa was the first state to accept the provisions of the land-grant act (also called the Morrill Act), that introduced a radical idea to American education — higher education should be practical and available to the masses. As a land-grant college, Iowa State is committed to the values of access and opportunity, combining practical and liberal education, conducting basic and applied research, and reaching out to extend the university far beyond the campus boundaries.

    Leading course developers offering courses through Fathom include:

    FT Knowledge (offering courses from the University of Michigan Business School and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania)

    FT Knowledge (FTK) is one of the world’s fastest-growing specialists in the use of new technologies for international business and management education programs for individuals and corporations. An established expert in open and distance learning programs and materials, FTK is part of the global communications group Pearson plc. FTK delivers a range of online executive management courses and works with a number of world-class institutions and professional organizations to develop and deliver a range of qualifications from diplomas to entire MBAs. For further information about FTK, please visit (offering courses from UCLA Extension) is the leading supplier of continuing higher education on the Internet, offering hundreds of online classes from top schools including UCLA Extension, the University of San Diego, the Marshall School of Business of the University of Southern California, and Wharton Direct. has an unparalleled history of student satisfaction: 85% rate online instructor-led courses distributed by as “good or better than face-to-face learning;” over 87% successfully complete their online courses offered through; and 90% say they are likely to take additional online instructor-led courses distributed by The company’s investors and strategic partners include Houghton Mifflin Company (NYSE: HTN), Sylvan Learning Systems, Inc. (Nasdaq: SLVN), and St. Paul Venture Capital. has had more than 15,000 enrollments from all 50 states and 72 U.S. Territories and foreign countries in more than 1,250 courses from UCLA Extension and the University of San Diego. For more information or to enroll, visit

    About Fathom

    Fathom Knowledge Network Inc. is a unique interactive enterprise dedicated to the dissemination of knowledge. The company’s website ( offers unprecedented opportunities for discovery through authenticated free content, as well as related knowledge and education e-commerce opportunities, overseen by an advisory board selected from its partners. A consortium of the world’s leading universities and cultural institutions, Fathom includes Columbia University, London School of Economics and Political Science, Cambridge University Press, The British Library, The New York Public Library, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, University of Chicago, American Film Institute (AFI), RAND, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.