IBM, La Caixa and Telefonica Support the Virtual Educational Community of Catalonia

Educalia will connect more than 500,000 people and 2,300 Catalonian schools on the Internet

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Spain - 01 Dec 1998: . . . IBM has signed an agreement with the Catalonian Government (Generalitat), Fundacion La Caixa, Telefonica and Universidad Oberta de Catalunya to create an educational community that will connect more than 500,000 pupils, parents and teachers of Catalonian infant and primary schools on the Internet.

This project, called Educalia, will include 2,304 Catalonian schools and 4,608 multimedia computers, with an investment of $28 million in IT equipment and development of educational funds.

Under the terms of the agreement IBM will provide and maintain the 4,608 multimedia Aptiva personal computers. Fundacion La Caixa will finance the equipment and adapt the educational programs (about culture, health, science and environment) to Internet. Fundacion La Caixa together with Telefonica will also manage the contents. Moreover, Telefonica will install 2,304 new telephone lines in the schools and will provide two years of free Internet connection.

The aim of Educalia is to take advantage of new Internet technologies as a pedagogic resource and, through these technologies, create a site which allows all parties involved to establish relations between them. Educalia users will have many different possibilities -- from personalized e-mail, discussion forums, competitions between schools, interactive games, an electronic magazine, etc.

Security will also be a crucial element of the project. The Educalia virtual educational community will be designed around an intranet with restricted access for its members and a password. Moreover, children will also be protected by limiting access to other Internet links based on user profiles.

Fundacion la Caixa belongs to la Caixa, one of the Spanish leading banking institutions and number one in terms of deposits. La Caixa is also an important shareholder in the leading Spanish services and utilities companies. La Caixa has over 3,000 branches and 13,000 employees, almost 5,000 self-service banking terminals, being the most important network for payment transaction in Spain. The financial standing and stability of la Caixa has enabled the creation and support of a Foundation which develops a broad program of social and cultural activities.

Telefonica is the largest supplier of telecommunications services in the Spanish-speaking world. Through its affiliate companies in Spain, Latin America and the United States, the Telefonica Group services a market of more than 300 million customers. With $15,577 billion in 1997 revenues, Telefonica is one of the world's top ten telecommunications companies. It is also Spain's largest company in terms of profits, assets, market capitalization and employment.

Unversidad Oberta de Catalunya created by the Catalonian Government is a new concept of university directed at offering high quality distance-learning education through the application of innovative educational systems and the use of multimedia and interactive technologies. The Universidad Oberta de Catalunya is developing its own form of higher education that is rooted in the cultural, social and linguistic reality of Catalonia. Students follow the learning process from their homes and with the help of multimedia materials. At any time of day or night they can send messages to their classmates or teachers to share experiences, clarify doubts or make suggestions and participate in the University's academic, cultural and social activities.

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