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Columbia Reorganizes Digital Media Operations

Columbia will begin to implement a plan to more closely integrate its wide-ranging digital media operations over the next several months. This reorganization is the result of a recent review of the University's existing online initiatives.

As part of the reorganization, Fathom.com, the online knowledge site offering digital content from Columbia and 13 other academic and cultural institutions since 2000, will cease operations as an independent entity on March 31, 2003. Columbia's Digital Knowledge Ventures (DKV) will become the University's primary focus for exploring digital media as a connection to alumni and the broader community. It will refocus its activity on building licensing and collaboration opportunities aimed at distribution of content to audiences beyond the Columbia campus.

In making the announcement, Robert Kasdin, senior executive vice president of Columbia, said, "After five years of innovation and experience in online learning, the time is right to coordinate Columbia's many diverse digital operations into a more integrated campus entity."

Kasdin continued, "Fathom was an important experimental venture. It led Columbia to develop new technologies and innovative ways of teaching and learning. It has brought about excellent academic collaborations. We have learned a great deal from this venture and will put that knowledge to good use."

Columbia's DKV has been very successful in the creation of innovative digital resources on behalf of the University. Over 100 e-seminars have been created by Columbia DKV and made available for use in Columbia's curriculum and beyond. The award-winning Columbia Interactive site created by Columbia DKV has been a very useful resource used by faculty, students, and the public-at-large. That record of innovation and benefit to Columbia and other audiences will continue.

Fathom was conceived in 1999 as a comprehensive, high-quality "branded" knowledge site targeting life-long learners. To that end, Columbia formed a consortium comprised of universities, libraries, museums and other cultural institutions in the U.S. and the U.K. and launched the site in the spring of 2000. At the same time, DKV was established to license media and intellectual property, incubate spin-off companies, and explore applications of digital media.

"The University hopes to continue to work with the consortium partners to pursue new opportunities," Mr. Kasdin said. "We will seek to maintain and build upon the positive relationships we have developed with the world-class universities, libraries, museums and other cultural institutions that have been part of the Fathom consortium."

Dr. Ann Kirschner, Fathom's CEO said, "It has been an honor and a pleasure to collaborate and to innovate with the leaders of preeminent institutions and their distinguished faculty, curators and librarians. Together, we've advanced the important mission of harnessing new technologies to serve educational and cultural goals, creating a vital and distinctive learning community of over 65,000 lifelong learners in 52 countries around the world."

In the course of its future work, DKV will coordinate its efforts with other centers of digital media innovation at Columbia, including the following:

  • The Center for New Media Teaching and Learning works with faculty to advance the effective use of technology in the educational programs at Columbia. Since 1999, the Center has collaborated with over 1,300 teachers from across the University to construct course Web sites and to advance applications of new digital media to teaching and learning;
  • The Electronic Publishing Initiative at Columbia (EPIC) creates new kinds of scholarly and education publications through the use of new media technologies and carries out research on academic publishing;
  • The Center for Research and Information Access (CRIA) conducts funded research and development on the use of digital information;
  • The Libraries Digital Program is focused on effective access to electronic resources, the creation of new specialized digital collections drawn from the library historical collections, and the organization of a depository for University digital assets;
  • Columbia University's Health Sciences has produced a number of interactive digital learning and reference tools;
  • And the Media Center for Art History, Archeology and Historic Preservation works with faculty on the integration of digital visual resources into University courses.

Published: Jan 06, 2003
Last modified: Jan 06, 2003

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