May 2008

Corporate diary

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NIIT enters into an agreement with CII to help create ICT

As part of this capacity building and skill development endeavour, NIIT and CII will share high quality education resources from India and involve other appropriate players from the Indian industry to help Africa develop human capital for the global IT industry.

Under the agreement, NIIT will provide relevant IT curricula in line with international IT trends, and content for IT, soft skills and entrepreneurship for training in universities and colleges in Africa. CII on the other hand will facilitate internship with the Indian industry.

English course launched online

Cengage Learning, in collaboration with MeritTrac- India's Largest Skills Assessment Company launched 'e English'- an online product that offers learning courses in English supplemented with periodic assessments and feedback with the ultimate goal of enhancing employability. The product was launched recently by Dr Kiran Karnik, Former President, NASSCOM and Dr K. K. Aggarwal, Vice-Chancellor, GGS Indraprastha University.

HP India launched desktop PC with solid-state drive

Hewlett-Packard India recently launched an ultra-slim desktop PC that features a solid-state had drive. A solid-state drive (SSD) is more robust and due to the lack of mechanical parts that a hard disk has, it is less prone to failure.

The PC also includes a variety of environmental features and meets the stringent environmental requirements of the Electronic ProduC1 Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) Gold registry.

Chinese to learn computers from NIIT

Recently, NIIT signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Wuxi Municipal Government in China, to set up IT training centres that will teach computer programs to the locals. Under the MoU, NIIT and Wuxi Government will work together, to develop a talent pool to cater to the demand of IT industy in China.

In addition, NIIT has also signed another MoU with Wuxi New District for educational purposes. Under these partnerships, the NIIT will offer IT education and training as per the industry needs, and Wuxi Government will promote its IT educational policies at all levels of administration.

NIIT is offering IT educational services and trainings in China for the past one decade. About 129 local universities and colleges have tied-up with NIIT for the IT training programmes. More than 170 centers have been setup across 23 provinces, and about 50,000 local people have been trained by NIIT so far.

'G-Class' to search in Indian languages

Continuing with its significant contribution to technology development, Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) has come out with new product, G-Class, a crosslanguage search-plug-in suit. The plug-in suit will primarily meet the complex needs of Indian languages and provide surfing facilities in local languages at available search engines.

C-DAC, also announced the launch of two new products – PARAMNet-3 and INTCOMPv1.0. CDAC has been undertaking research projects for Indian languages since last few years and G-class is an addition to this series. The plug-in product is also a one-stop shop for search engine developers. With G-Class plug- in, the web will work like an information bureau with queries addressed in Indian languages. For example, a person can ask a query in any Indian language on search-engine to get the answer. The in-built transliteration system in the product can translate one script to another. This will  simplify surfing for users.

Mahindra MoU with Rajasthan to set up Mahindra Pride School

Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. (M&M) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Rajasthan to set up a Mahindra Pride School in Jaipur.

Mahindra Pride Schools provide vocational training and livelihood skills to the socially weaker sections of society. M&M has set up its first Pride School near Pune, whose first three batches have had a 95% placement. The Rajasthan government will provide 2500 sqm of land to M&M at Bani Park in Jaipur for 25 years and M&M will bear the cost of building construction. The school will run on a not-for-profit basis and 600 students per year from SC/ST/ OBC will be given vocational training. Students will also be given training in spoken English, basic computer literacy, communication skills which will help them in their over all personality development.

Educomp to invest Rs 125 crore to set up over 500 tutorial centres

Education services provider Educomp Solutions plans to invest about Rs 125 crore to set up over 500 tutorial centres by 2010. Its tutoring subsidiary Learning Hour will establish 50 centres by the end of 2008, taking it up to 150 by 2009 and 500 by 2010 and cover CBSE, ISC/ICSE and state education boards' syllabii. Eight centres are initially being launched in the National Capital Region and Punjab to provide tutoring in mathematics, science, physics, chemistry, accounts, economics and English.

The facilities at the centres will include live video, two-way audio and shared whiteboards, instant messaging, application sharing, biometric attendance systems in addition to online assignment access, Learning Hour director Chandan Aggarwal said. Tutoring sessions will be also be recorded in the class and made available on the website so that students need not take notes in the classroom. Learning Hour also plans to launch a home-tutoring service shortly. It has a library of over 16,000 interactive, multimedia modules and comprehensive test and assessment programme to track students' progress, he said.

Reliance launches education portal on mobile phones

In a trail-blazing initiative, Reliance Communications has announced the launch of an exclusive educational portal 'Exam Guru' on Reliance mobile phones.

This unique portal offers a bouquet of useful information on exam results, admissions, calendar of exams, mock tests and tips for performing well in exams. It contains the list of top universities, colleges, secondary education boards as well as career options. While the portal is an IVR based service, it also offers SMS alerts on exam preparation, performance and even tips to enhance performance during exams. The service will be made available to both prepaid and post paid subscribers

The application is quite simple and user-friendly. Users have to simply call 53030101 and they will be guided by an IVR instructing them to press different numbers for various category. These services can be accessed at a reduced rate of Rs 1 per minute for which the user will have to subscribe to the 'Exam Guru' pack which is priced at Rs 10 with a validity of 10 days. The services are also available to the users at a very nominal rate of Rs 3 per minute by simply dialing 53030303 in case they have not subscribed to the pack.

IBM launches effort to address shortage of Hispanic students in technology careers

IBM has convened an inaugural summit titled “America's Competitiveness: Hispanic Participation in Technology Careers,” in an effort to bring together leaders in business, education, government, and community orga-nisations to find ways to increase the number of Hispanic students pursuing careers in science, technology, engine-ering and math in the United States.

The effort is aimed at a looming problem resulting from the significant decline in the numbers of Hispanic students pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (or STEM). This decline could affect America's competitiveness in the increasingly global market. Demographic data show that the Hispanic community is expected to constitute 25 % of the overall US population by mid-century.

To address the issue, IBM along with ExxonMobil, Lockheed Martin and Univision, and 150 other leaders will meet on May 5 and 6 in New York, to examine the ways the Hispanic community can improve their participation in STEM.

Intel launches Wimax, Classmate PC projects in Saudi Arabia

Citing Saudi government-industry partnership (or private public partnership) as successful model in advancing education, technology innovation and economic development in the Arab World, Intel Corporation Chairman Craig Barrett, kicked off his fourth visit to the Gulf region pledging technical support for building a high-speed wireless network in the country using a long-range wireless technology known as WiMAX.

Barrett also dedicated a pilot project for e-Learning at a Saudi Arabian public school, which is becoming a top priority in many educational systems throughout the world. Barrett is traveling throughout the Middle East in his role as chairman of a United Nations panel on technology, and on behalf of the Intel World Ahead Programme. Intel's global initiative strives to improve education, healthcare, trepreneurship and government services by accelerating access to computers, connectivity and localized Internet content. He is expected to visit the United Arab Emirates and also Kuwait to further promote “better, faster access to information and communications technology (ICT).” During his visit to the leading OPEC oil producing kingdom, Barrett signed an agreement between STC, Saudi's telecom operator, and Knowledge Economic City, (KEC) of Medina, to deploy a WiMAX network, scheduled start running by 2011.

Joined by Saudi Minister of Education, H.E. Dr. Abdullah Bin Salah Bin Obaid, Barrett saw the e-learning pilot project demonstrated at Riyadh's Bishr Ibn Elbaraa School, a public school for boys in grades seven through nine. The school pilot will run in two classrooms, and outfitted with notebook computers and the specially designed Intel-powered Classmate PCs. The smaller, student-sized netbooks are designed to be low-cost, wireless-capable, water- and shock-resistant and fully functional computers that are pre-loaded with standard software and locally relevant educational programmes. All computers used in the pilot project feature Intel's skoool Learning and Teaching Technology.

Intel worked closely with a set of local businesses, including KETAB, a manufacturer of pen-based collaborative whiteboards; Binary Works, an education service provider that implemented the hardware and provided the School Management System and the Learning Management System; Semanoor, a software vendor that provided Semanoor e-content; and MGD, a software vendor that provided Crocodile Clips virtual labs.

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