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January 13, 2003

Aspiring Technologists Learn by Playing in the Sandbox in New O'Reilly Learning Lab

Sebastopol, CA--Children learn a new skill--how to walk, tie a shoe, or program a game console--by trying the new thing, failing, exploring, trying again, and finally mastering it. Adults learn the same way, though you'd never guess that from the structure of most courses designed for "adult learning." O'Reilly & Associates and Useractive are setting out to change that, with the O'Reilly Learning Lab.

The heart of the O'Reilly Learning Lab courses is Useractive's web-native Learning Sandbox, a virtual lab environment where users learn by diving right in to "doing." Every course has an online coach--a live expert in the topic--who guides students as they progress from the simple to the complex. And every course includes a free O'Reilly reference book that supplements the online course materials.

Useractive Co-founder and CTO Scott Gray, a veteran of the University of Illinois's groundbreaking Calculus&Mathematica project, says, "We make the courses I wish had existed when I learned these technologies. Our touchstone is the principle of guided proactive discovery. The courses immediately guide students into experimentation, and then they quickly turn work in to their coach, get feedback, go to the next level, experiment, and learn more. If a student reads for more than 10 minutes without doing something, we've failed."

"Through our new partnership with Useractive, we've finally found online courses that meet the needs of O'Reilly readers," says Dale Dougherty, O'Reilly's VP of Online Publishing. "The O'Reilly Learning Lab courses are written by and for IT practitioners. Their hands-on methodology is grounded in real-world practice, just as our books and web sites are."

O'Reilly Learning Lab courses include the Linux/Unix System Admin Certificate Series, Web Programming Certificate Series, and individual courses on PHP, C Programming, XML, Java, and more. The O'Reilly Learning Lab offers discounts on all courses, with fees ranging from $169 to $279 US. For more information, see

About Useractive

Useractive provides tools and technology that make learning information technology easy, convenient, and effective. The company's next generation web-based approach to learning combines online instruction with an integrated virtual lab environment where users learn by doing. Useractive's Learning Sandbox virtual lab is delivered via any web browser and can be seamlessly integrated to compliment any existing content, classroom or online curriculum. Useractive's unique approach combines the accessibility and convenience of online learning with the effectiveness of hands-on lab tools and personal coaching.

Useractive's customers include individuals, corporate organizations, educational institutions and e-learning solution providers worldwide who are focused on superior and engaging education and IT training. Selected courses are eligible for Continuing Education Units and Professional Development Certificates from The University of Illinois.

About O'Reilly

O'Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O'Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying "faint signals" from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. An active participant in the technology community, the company has a long history of advocacy, meme-making, and evangelism.

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