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Unicon Announces ''Sakai v2.1 Test Drive'' Open Source Learning Environment for Educators; Colleges and Universities Can Experience the Latest Sakai Tools -- Risk Free.

PHOENIX -- Unicon, Inc., the leading independent provider of enterprise portal, collaboration, learning, and integration technology for higher education institutions, today announced a new, hosted "Sakai Test Drive" program done in partnership with Optimized Learning, Inc., a leading ASP company specializing in open-source technologies. The "Sakai Test Drive" program is designed to provide educational instructors and IT personnel with a risk-free, zero-cost program to evaluate the latest Sakai v2.1 Collaborative Learning Environment and Course Management System without incurring licensing fees, development/maintenance time and resources, or hardware purchases. Designed for use by administrators, individual faculty and teachers at universities, colleges, K-12 and most private and public educational institutions, the "Sakai Test Drive" can be experienced at www.sakaitestdrive.com.

"This is further evidence of how projects like Sakai and firms like Unicon are working in concert with new ways to serve higher education," said Brad Wheeler, Vice Chair of the Sakai Project Board. "Unicon is making it even easier for institutions to take a real look at Sakai as an open alternative for their future."

"Through our partnership with Unicon, we are providing educators interested in Sakai with a cost-effective hosted solution or hosted pilots to experience the power, flexibility, and stability of a leading open source CLE without incurring any capital expense to their organization," stated W. Butch Porter, CEO of Optimized Learning. "We have installed and are hosting Sakai in our Tier 1 data center, thus eliminating the need for hardware purchases and the redirecting of IT or other personnel resources."

"Educational institutions are increasingly attracted to open source campus portals and course management systems because of their significant cost savings, robust technical capabilities, and other advantages, most notably, control," said John C. Blakley, CEO of Unicon, Inc. "Unicon and Optimized Learning have created the 'Sakai Test Drive' to let educators quickly evaluate the system using their own real-world information and practices."

Industry Consolidation of Course Management Systems Opens Door for Open Source

Open source technologies for course management is gaining in popularity with higher education as recent software vendor consolidation has given institutions fewer purchase options and limited strategic choices for their online future. Powerful, scalable, and sophisticated open source portals and CLEs have been successfully implemented at many of the largest universities and colleges in the United States and internationally. Open source solutions are especially attractive to budget constrained higher education institutions because of its dramatically lower price purchase price and lower costs over time.

Sakai Collaborative Learning Environment -- A community source software development effort to design, build, and deploy a new Collaboration and Learning Environment (CLE) for higher education. The technology consists of the Sakai application framework and associated course management software (CMS) tools and components that are designed to work together.

About the Sakai Project

The Sakai Project is a community source software development effort to design, build, and deploy a new Collaboration and Learning Environment (CLE) for higher education. It was founded in January 2004 by the University of Michigan, Indiana University, MIT, and Stanford University to develop a framework and tools to support teaching, learning, collaboration, and research. The project was also co-founded by the Open Knowledge Initiative (OKI) and JA-SIG/uPortal with a generous grant from the Mellon Foundation. Sakai released its 2.0 software in June 2005. Over 85 colleges and universities from five continents have joined the Sakai Educational Partners Program. For more information, please visit the Sakai Project on the Web at http://www.sakaiproject.org/.

About Optimized Learning Incorporated

Optimized Learning Incorporated (OLi) supports public and private institutions that wish to take advantage of open source portals and course management systems in an Application Service Provider-hosted environment. OLi is proud to be a preferred ASP partner of Unicon Inc. representing the many products and services Unicon delivers to the open source community. OLi passes on the savings of open-source solutions while significantly lowering the total cost of ownership for colleges and educational systems faced with ever growing demands. At OLi, our mission is to be a true partner in your online educational experience while delivering the best possible return on your investment. For more information, please visit OLi on the Web at: www.optimizedlearn.com.

About Unicon, Inc.

Since 1993, Unicon has been designing, building and managing technology solutions for colleges, universities, schools, and corporations worldwide. Unicon solutions are based on open-source technology to increase productivity while reducing costs. Unicon is the leading independent provider of enterprise portal, collaboration, learning, and integration technology for higher education institutions. The company is the developer of the Academus Enterprise Portal Solution, the leading commercial supporter of the uPortal open-source web portal initiative, and also a Sakai Commercial Affiliate. Additionally, Unicon maintains and supports applications for the Cisco Networking Academy Program. For more information, please visit Unicon on the Web at www.unicon.net.
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Date:Dec 16, 2005
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