World News – December 2009

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New Era IT wins IT support contract for UCol, Australia

New Era IT, the specialist in education sector has won the IT support contract for UCol, the institute of technology in Palmerston North, Wanganui, and Wairarapa, displacing incumbent HP. New Era also supplies services to the University of Auckland, including server monitoring and management. Mike Willing, New Era’s Director of tertiary services mentioned that the company views the tertiary education sector as a potentially developing area with growing market. The company already provides services to 950 primary and secondary schools. Willing mentioned that New Era specialises in helping education clients incorporate IT into their curricula. He also told that New Era has a service desk on site and is charged with ensuring IT services, are available 24 x 7; with provision of desktop support.

NMS solutions for ICT in Learning

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Across UK, every school and academy can now benefit from a personalised ICT solution designed in accordance to the needs of staff and students with Northgate Managed Services. Building upon its significant experience working with Building Schools for the Future programmes in Leicester, Kent and Bristol, Northgate is now working with a plethora of exceptional centres of learning, including Trent Valley Academy in Gainsborough, Bristol Cathedral Choir School in Bristol, Havelock Academy in Grimsby and Litherland High School and Abraham Guest High School, one school BSF Pathfinder projects school in Sefton and Wigan. Northgate has a flexible approach to solutions and designs the service to each school’s needs, to encourage every school to have its own development and improvement plan. Northgate’s team works closely with the leadership team from the outset to foster a flexible, dynamic partnership to support this vision and ultimately help to transform learning. The services offered are tailored to meet the needs of each school and this May also include elements of outsourcing of technical and support staff.

Northgate believes in having a two-way interaction for improving on the challenges faced as well as for supporting a school’s ICT provision. Both parties need to be continuously engaged and challenge each other every step of the process to improve ICT provision. Northgate’s approach to TUPE (whereby school ICT technicians work directly for the company) is helping to improve standards, ensure a smooth transition for ICT and ultimately transfer risk, establishing confidence across the school community. As schools face the challenge of developing a shared vision for ICT, this approach ensures that Northgate’s team of professionals gain a much deeper understanding of the different ICT needs and issues experienced by individual schools.

€150 Million for computers in Ireland schools

Taoiseach Brian Cowen is to unveil a major investment in computers for schools, to overcome the criticism that Irish school children are losing out in the digital revolution. It is expected that Cowen is to commit about 150 million to a new plan for providing laptops and computer software for every school in the State. The Government has been stung into action by criticism from former Intel Chief Craig Barrett at the recent Farmleigh summit. Presently, Irish schools are noted to be lagging behind leading OECD states in the provision of information and computer technologies (ICT). The new plan is to incorporate laptops in every classroom and much closer integration of ICT in all elements of teaching and learning. It is to promote teacher training and technical support as well.

It was found through a recent survey that one in five computers in schools cannot be used and more than 50% are at least four years old. The Republic has one of the lowest rates of ICT usage in education in the developed world. The National Development Plan had proposed spending 252 million on ICT in schools over the next seven years but none of this funding has been availed to date due to government cutbacks. The Government is financing the new ICT programme from savings made in the school building programme where over 200 million in funding has still to be allocated.

CANARIE funds for the First-ever Wind and Solar Internet service

An announcement was made by CANARIE, Canada’s Advanced Research and Innovation Network, for providing funds worth $2.4 million for four ground-breaking Green IT projects aimed at reducing ICT’s carbon footprint and measuring the impact of ICT and cyber-infrastructure on university electric consumption. GreenStar Network is one of the biggest recipients of Green IT fund by CANARIE, an alliance of Canada’s leading IT companies, universities and international partners, led by Quebec’s École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS) in Montreal. CANARIE has given $2 million to develop the world’s first internet network at the GreenStar Network, where the network nodes will be powered entirely by wind and solar energy and yet will provide the same reliability to users as the current Internet network does.

CANARIE’s three other GREEN IT funding recipients include, firstly, a joint project between McGill University (CLUMEQ) and University of California, San Diego (SDSC Centre) to design an ultra-efficient data centre for high-performance computing applications. Secondly, International Institute for Sustainable Development, based in Winnipeg, will conduct a study to assess the business case, and carbon-offset potential, for Canadian universities to use CANARIE’s ultra high-speed network to run IT operations from remote, zero- carbon data centre facilities; and thirdly, University of British Columbia’s Centre for Sustainability and Social Innovation at Sauder School of Business will develop a business case for how carbon offsets can be used to finance data centre relocations and how universities could implement this opportunity.

Teaching Aid Frog in-line for National Award

Frog, the teaching online-aid specialist, has been chosen for a national award. Providing with tailored learning platforms, the Dean Clough-based company gives secondary school teachers, administrative staff and students a platform which is embedded in the school’s working practices. It supports schools and local authorities develop better ways of addressing educational needs and empowering students and staff to achieve excellence in education. Frog is competing for the most sought after awards in education sector known as the ICT Company of the Year BETT (British Education and Training Technology) award.

The firm has been recognised for its ability to radically improve the engagement of students and the academic results of schools across more than 80 local authorities in the UK. The BETT Show 2010, the world’s largest education technology event, will showcase some of Frog’s work with the help of teachers and parents. Students are also encouraged to learn independently and develop a more mature and academic approach to their work through Frog. Using the remote user application, pupils can access the school network, software packages and learning resources from their own homes.

Civil Servants from Africa to go to Japan for Technical Training

Fourteen civil servants from different public institutions are expected to leave for Japan towards the end of this month for a technical training programme. The Ministry of Education (MINEDUC), Workforce Development Authority (WDA) and National Forestry Authority, are the institutions from where the candidates were chosen for the programme. The candidates are expected to undergo the training for three weeks in different areas including education, environment and forestry management. One of them is Adrien Uwamahoro from Kigali Institute of Science and Technology will be enrolled for a two-year Masters’ programme. This initiative is supported by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Meanwhile, Japanese volunteers are expected in the country to provide expertise in areas of education, rural economic development and health.

Britannica Online to benefit GEMS Schools

UAE students under GEMS education system  will now have anytime, anywhere access to Encyclopedia Britannica Online School Edition. Secondary students can avail thousands of articles, illustrations, interactive games and multimedia resources to support their learning through the GEMS Learning Gateway (GLG). As students use the Internet more as a primary source of information, students can simply log-on to Britannica through the GLG from anywhere accessing content which is reliable, trustworthy and safe, providing peace of mind to both teachers and parents. GEMS Education has bought this content and integrated Britannica Online to make the learning experience truly interactive at schools, by providing students with learning resources at home to complement classroom teaching. Britannica provides accurate reference information that can be used to meet specific learning objectives in the classroom and ultimately make learning fun.The process by GEMS education has helped in reducing the time spent by teachers in creating their own resources and planning, to help children develop important research and ICT skills. Teachers also benefit from using the extensive Britannica resources to enhance their lessons with movie clips, images and animations, using the site as a reliable form of reference when planning their lessons. The encyclopedia also provides on-demand Arabic translation, supporting accurate translations for non-native English speakers. Placing the mouse over a word will display the translation of the word or phrase in its current context. The translating tool goes beyond simple dictionary look-up by providing context analysis, phrase recognition and morphological support – a plural form in English is translated into the plural form in Arabic. Britannica makes sure that language does not become a barrier in the acquisition of knowledge.

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