SUNBURST’S TYPE TO LEARN® 4 CELEBRATES FIRST ANNIVERSARY

ELGIN, IL, June 28, 2009 – Sunburst Technology’s Type to Learn 4: Agents of Information celebrates its first anniversary at this year’s National Educational Computing Conference (NECC) in Washington, DC, and continues to be a leading keyboarding solution for students in grades K-12. This latest title in Sunburst’s best selling Type to Learn software series takes individualized instruction to a new level with a diagnostic pre-test, automatic, personalized remediation, and modern accessibility and customization features, including Spanish language support. This engaging product wraps touch-type keyboarding instruction into an intriguing, futuristic, 3D animated world of adventure and information, where students are recruited as agents to help save vital information from being lost forever. Built on a research-based method of sequential skill-building instruction, Type to Learn 4’s all-new curriculum provides 36 leveled lessons covering all letter and number keys, symbols, keyboard shortcuts like Control-C, and common English letter blends, in addition to 5 new animated activities and multiple built-in formative assessments. Students can download the program over the Internet and install it to their home computer for greater access for homework or practice to accelerate learning. Type to Learn 4 supports the latest Intel, Vista, and Leopard systems as either a hybrid CD-ROM or a web-downloaded and installed application.           

In developing Type to Learn 4 Sunburst has integrated valuable input and feedback from teachers, students, and renowned keyboarding instruction experts
such as Dr. Leigh E. Zeitz, PhD., Associate Professor of Instructional Technology at the University of Northern Iowa and author of the book “Keyboarding Made Simple: Learn the Best Techniques for Keyboarding like a Pro.” Zeitz maintains the International Keyboarding Research website at www.keyboardingresearch.org and numerous blogs on technology and education.
Type to Learn 4’s research-based instructional design builds critical 21st Century skills for all students in grades K-12. The integrated cycle of review, demonstration, practice, and assessment, with constant reinforcement of home row positioning and ergonomic safety, teaches proper fingering for each key with ample opportunity for skills practice. The program emphasizes both accuracy and words per minute speed, and provides each student with individualized remediation and goals for success, based on performance and specific errors. Alison Sherman, Ed.M., Sunburst’s Director of Product Development states, “Type to Learn 4 is the most comprehensive, robust keyboarding program I’ve seen. It goes beyond the standard letter and number keys to teach keyboarding shortcuts and frequently used letter blends and words. The customization and accessibility features, including teacher-added content and support for low-vision and Spanish students, are just unparalleled.”
Sharon Davison, Kindergarten teacher, and Jessica Wilson, Technology Educator have been using Type to Learn 4 at the Allen Brook School in Williston, Vermont. This rural school near Burlington is using the Type to Learn 4 web version with all students in grades K-4. They share that the students are very motivated by the graphics in Type to Learn 4, and request to use the program when they have a choice of what to do in the lab. Students are excited to tell the teacher what level they’ve reached, and say they “can’t wait to do this at home.” Ms. Davison looks forward to using Type to Learn 4 with a Smartboard in the upcoming school year, saying, “I definitely see opportunity for whole-group instruction in addition to individual learning.”     
Ms. Davison comments on the easy use of Type to Learn 4 and states that most of her kindergarten students use the program independently. She has noticed progress and improvement in her students’ keyboarding, as well as a positive impact on reading and writing skills. “The children now know the keys for their name and can type it to login. Students are now using both hands and several fingers to type, and thanks to the program they‘re getting the idea of using different hands for different keys on the keyboard.” She has noticed children making a connection between the keys and phonics, saying, “B-buh” as they press the B key. “This is extremely important for young children learning to read. It really gives relevance to what they’re doing.” Ms. Wilson agrees she’s seen student improvement: “One student had been a particularly slow typer and he has really excelled since using the program. I’m a real stickler for technique and the home row, and I‘ve seen good progress in students’ technique.” Ms. Wilson actively uses the Management features in Type to Learn 4 and modifies settings for those students who need differentiated instruction. She explains, “It’s great! The Management area is so easy to use. It’s easy to input the information and easy to manage the students. When I showed teachers how to get scores they all commented how easy it was. The graphs and score comparisons are really nice.”
Type to Learn 4 serves large school districts as well as small. Perhaps the largest is Jefferson County, Kentucky (metro Louisville area) where Type to Learn 4 is installed on over 5,000 computers with approximately 65,000 users in 115 schools, grades K-8. Students here use the web version in computer labs and some are using the program from home. Steve Brown, Technology Specialist, emphasizes, “Without exception the students absolutely love the program. They’re motivated to use it. This surprised me, to hear that so universally.” Teachers like it, too. Mary Holloway, Training Specialist, shares that “teachers appreciate that the program forces students to learn the proper keystrokes and requires that they actually master those keys and skills before they can advance”. This district particularly appreciates how everything the student does is tracked, from day one to the end of school, and that students’ progress is visible in reports. Says SharonShrout, Director of Computer Education Support: “Any time a product is engaging for students and motivates them to learn, and then tracks their progress for teachers, that’s a winner!”
Several new accessibility features were incorporated into Type to Learn 4 to ensure its successful use by students with visual or hearing impairments. Bruce McClanahan at the Washington State School for the Blind, and Sharee Darcé at the Texas School for the Deaf both reviewed Type to Learn 4 and used the program with their students. Mr. McClanahan states, “The accessibility features in Type to Learn 4 make the product very accessible for low vision students. These features enable almost all low vision students to use Type to Learn 4. The program does a great job at supporting this community.” Ms. Darcé shares, “The new Type to Learn 4 is wonderful. Our students say they enjoy the game aspect of it and have even said that the tests are fun. With the addition of captioning, our students have full access to the program. Thanks for making a great program and for making it accessible to hearing-impaired students!” Ms. Davison in Vermont agrees that her two students with hearing impairments are both able to use the program independently. According to Ms. Shrout in Kentucky, “Low-vision and hearing impaired students are absolutely included in our use of the Type to Learn 4 program. We’re very interested in software that supports the principals of a Universal Design for Learning and makes the curriculum available to all students. These accessibility features in Type to Learn 4 are very important to us”.
Type to Learn 4 is successful with special education students as well. A Functional Skills Teacher for mentally retarded high school students in San Marcos, California expresses that his students in grades 9-12 approached the program with great enthusiasm and it maintained their interest for six months. His students feel much more confident at the keyboard and especially enjoy the challenges of the timed games.
Industry reviewers have also embraced Type to Learn 4. The program received a 5-Star Grade A review from Multimedia & Internet@Schools, was selected as a “Teacher’s Pick Best of 2009” and “Must-Have Software” by Scholastic’s Instructor Magazine, and was recommended as featuring “robust formative assessment and teacher management options” by Tech & Learning. DISKoveries, a column on assistive technology and special education software, highlights Type to Learn 4 as “set[ting] the standard for keyboarding and touch-typing curriculum for school aged students.”
In response to the market’s positive reactions to Type to Learn 4, Daniel Figurski, President of Sunburst Technology, states, “We listened to our customers. They wanted a keyboarding program with a home connection, a web version, new lessons and activities, and updated compatibility. Type to Learn 4 was developed to meet those needs. Sales of Type to Learn 4 in the first year since its launch have exceeded Sunburst’s expectations. Especially exciting has been the success of the Type to Learn 4 web version which allows students to use the program from home.”  
 
Company Background
Sunburst Technology (www.sunburst.com) publishes award-winning instructional software and products for the K-12 school market, including the QuickMind.net and WriteBrain online learning environments. Proprietary series in the Sunburst lineup include Type to Learn®, Key Skills™, and Learn About Science. Top selling titles include the Key Sills Series, Type to Learn Series, Hot Dog Stand: The Works, Easy Book Deluxe and A to Zap! Sunburst is a member of the Knowledge Investment Partners, LLC (KIP) group and is headquartered in Elgin, IL.
 
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State system raises technology fees; tuition to be set today

Students at the 14-owned Pennsylvania state universities will see a $25 increase in technology fees, The Patriot-News reports. The fees will rise to $206 for in-state undergraduates, up from $181. The board of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education set the fees Thursday morning. Later today, the system’s trustees are slated to set the tuition for the 2009-10 school year. The system includes Millersville and Shippensburg universities. The out-of-state undergraduate and graduate students will pay $37 more in technology fees, to $310. Technology fees pay for computer labs, web-based course development, and electronic library resources. About 90 percent of the system’s students are from Pennsylvania.

Click here for the full story

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Layoffs prompt teachers to move online

In what could be a result of widespread teacher layoffs, some virtual schools and online learning providers are reporting huge increases in teaching applications for the coming school year.

"We have seen at least a 50-percent increase in the number of applications we’ve received versus this time last year," said Annie Middlestadt, senior director of human resources for Connections Academy, an operator of virtual K-12 public charter schools. 

"In the states where we operate schools, the number of phone calls and eMails we’re receiving from applicants coming from brick-and-mortar schools has increased," she added.

"This year in particular, we’ve seen an increase in [the number of] applicants in some states," agreed Teresa Scavulli, senior director of the teaching effectiveness division for K12 Inc., which also manages virtual K-12 charters.

Middlestadt and Scavulli said they can’t directly attribute the increase in teaching applications to teacher layoffs or a rough economy, but both agreed the connection is likely.

Connections Academy also is seeing an increase in the number of applicants who are changing careers–for instance, math professionals who are looking to share their expertise through teaching.

Many of Connections Academy’s job applicants are through referrals from current teachers or parents who have students in the program.

At K12, the majority of teaching applicants are coming from brick-and-mortar schools, which most likely means they are a combination of teachers who have been laid off, are retiring, or are looking for a change within the teaching field.

In general, only about 3 percent of K12 instructors do not have some sort of brick-and-mortar teaching experience, with the majority having five to 10 years of experience teaching in a brick-and-mortar school.

Although a portion of states’ federal economic stimulus dollars are intended to help schools avoid employee layoffs, including teachers, many states and districts are facing huge budget deficits–and teaching positions are being eliminated to help ease monetary troubles.

In mid-July, Alabama Gov. Bob Riley said he expects he will have to cut the state’s education budget for the upcoming school year because of plunging tax revenues. Riley said the cuts should not be as deep as the 9-percent reduction he had to make in last year’s budget, but it’s too early to predict an exact amount.

Tax collections for education are running nearly 9 percent below last year, primarily because of a drop in sales and income taxes. Underlying the income tax drop is the state’s 9.8-percent unemployment rate–the worst in nearly 25 years.

Sally Howell, executive director of the Alabama Association of School Boards, said school systems already have signed teacher contracts for the new school term, so more budget cuts shouldn’t mean larger class sizes.

She said the impact of cuts will vary among school systems, but it could include laying off untenured school support workers, canceling field trips, postponing maintenance and construction projects, cutting back on school supplies, and adjusting thermostats to reduce utility bills.

Some Alabama schools also expect to receive less local money. "What is happening at the state level is also affecting local sales taxes," Howell said.

California lawmakers warned that severe cuts to many state programs were unavoidable as the state faces a $26 billion deficit. And while lawmakers seemed more optimistic about tackling the state’s budget woes, others said education funding is one of the biggest obstacles still left.

Funding for K-12 schools is a main sticking point. Republican Senate Minority Leader Dennis Hollingsworth said cuts to education were inevitable because it accounts for at least half of California’s annual budget.

The lawmakers were debating whether to suspend Proposition 98, a constitutional amendment passed by voters in 1988 that guarantees a minimum level of funding for schools each year. The funding also is supposed to rise each year based on the previous budget. Among other things, money from Proposition 98 funds classroom support staff and instructional assistants.

Earlier this year, state lawmakers cut education spending by $8.6 billion over two years. Many districts are planning to lay off teachers and increase class sizes. In Los Angeles alone, more than 2,000 teachers are expected to lose their jobs.

The efforts to close California’s budget shortfall for the fiscal year that began July 1 are going on against the backdrop of a deep recession that has led to an unprecedented drop in tax revenue.

Personal income tax, a cornerstone of how state government funds its operations, dropped 34 percent during the first five months of the year. The latest reports from the state controller’s office show that the slide has continued into the summer, widening the gap between California’s spending obligations and its tax income.

Links:

Connections Academy
http://www.connectionsacademy.com/home.aspx

K12 Inc.
http://www.k12.com/

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Ideal for any little monster

The arrival of a new baby is an extremely exciting experience for all concerned. And judging by the plentiful softly-spoken baby banter of friends and relatives alike, it might at times seem like you’ve landed your very own little angel. However, when it comes to night time, feeding, changing, and especially teething, you might wonder whether you’re little cherubic bundle of joy has transformed into a little monster.

Parents naturally see both the good and more challenging side to looking after a new baby, and so to look on the bright side, GettingPersonal have come up with some really cute and apt personalised baby gifts.

Our Personalised Monster Design Baby Bib is a great gift for any little person and new parent; making light of the grizzly moments, whilst keeping functionality in mind.

Our Personalised Monster Design Baby Bib features a fun and colourful design of cute monster-themed lettering that can spell out any name of your choice, up to 11 characters long.

This fun baby accessory is made from 100 percent cotton and is fully machine-washable; which is sure to go down well with mummy, daddy and baby.

Available from GettingPersonal.co.uk for only 12.67, our Personalised Monster Design Baby Bib is just one of many personalised baby gifts on offer. This and many other items can be delivered free-of charge when 30 is spent in a transaction. Items are usually dispatched within 24 hours.

Go on, bring about some happy gurgles and give a gift that’ll put a smile on the face of any little monster…
 

The arrival of a new baby is an extremely exciting experience for all concerned. And judging by the plentiful softly-spoken baby banter of friends and relatives alike, it might at times seem like you’ve landed your very own little angel. Unique high quality gifts & personalised gifts at affordable prices, delivered quickly and guaranteed with a smile.For further information, please visit our website at http://www.gettingpersonal.co.uk

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November: Drastically change ed-tech role

Author and longtime education technology advocate Alan November told educators and IT administrators last month that schools and colleges should reassess how they fund their ed-tech initiatives. Asking what teachers and students need, November said, should trump the persistent push for more technology staffing and equipment.
 
November, author of the book Empowering Students with Technology, spoke to about 100 school and campus officials during a lunch session June 30 at the National Educational Computing Conference (NECC) in Washington, D.C.

American students, November said, have fallen behind their international peers in nearly every facet of education, and policy makers must alter their technology planning if U.S. schools and universities hope to catch up to their counterparts.
 
"Asking how much staffing we need is the wrong question," said November, who lives in Massachusetts.
 
Despite the proliferation of internet access in U.S. schools over the past decade, November said, schools and colleges are often "technology rich and information poor," meaning students can use computers but lack the skills to find and use crucial information.
 
Using Web 2.0 technologies to see what international schools are studying would break the digital isolation that has harmed American education during the computer age, November said.
 
"Americans kids are just oblivious" to what is being studied in European and Asian classrooms and universities, he said, adding that U.S. students "could understand different points of view" through the web.
 
November used the 2008 presidential election as an example of how technological advances are affecting society, and how American students often lack the resources and curriculum to study the fast-moving technology revolution.

President Obama’s campaign announced in October that supporters could download the candidate’s official iPhone application, which was lauded in technology corners as an embrace of mobile devices in swaying public opinion.

The iPhone application included Obama’s position papers, campaign videos, and the latest news on the candidate. The built-in GPS system let the application identify local campaign events and the nearest volunteer efforts and recruiting centers.

The campaign’s iPhone application also highlighted user contact numbers from swing states such as Ohio and Florida, asking users to call people in those states and urge them to vote for Obama.

Even if students in U.S. schools and colleges were intrigued by the revolutionary use of a mobile device, November said, they wouldn’t be able to learn about it, because most schools are not nearly that advanced.

"Kids can’t learn the tools that helped win the presidency," he said. "Schools wouldn’t even think to teach that."

November offered two suggestions for how to boost technology instruction in American schools: Spell out the 10 most difficult concepts for students to learn and brainstorm solutions, and find out what students do outside school and find ways to engage them.

Creating an iPhone application similar to the Obama campaign’s, he said, would open communication between schools, campuses, and students who are increasingly migrating toward internet-enabled mobile devices.

Link:

Alan November

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Affiliate Programs For The Loose Tea Business

 

Affiliate Programs

 

Affiliate Programs are an ideal way for a small or home business to enter the expanding world of loose tea. There are many elements to consider however when establishing an affiliate relationship.

 

Affiliate programs offer a high return on capital but many affiliate programs are a waste of time and money. http://www.homebizlover.com

 

 

One need only make a quick Google search to note the abundance of affiliate marketing programs on the internet. Most are worthless unless certain conditions are met:

 

1.) A viable product with clear demand in the marketplace and an order price point that generates substantial commissions.

 

2.) A commission and feature rich e-commerce site that encourages easy and accurate ordering.

 

3.) Marketing support in the form of quality articles and banner advedrtising.

 

4.) Accurate and real time reporting of activity and accrual of commissions.

 

5.) Payment of commissions on time and as agreed.

 

 

Loose tea meets all of the product criteria:

 

Loose Tea is a growing business with substantial and growing demand .

 

Loose Tea is priced right in the market in order to generate substantial commissions.

 

Repeat orders are the norm and repeat orders establish a steady flow of commissions .

 

There are very few tea companies with robust affiliate programs.

 

 

Affiliate programs are more than an agreement.

 

There are numerous examples of affilate programs that fail because of lack of support, training and integrity in payment of commissions. Merely signing an agreement does not guarantee success for the affiliate because of the requirement for continuing support of the affiliate. http://www.onlinemoneylover.com

 

 

Allign yourself with a tea company that is truly dedicated to an affilaite program as part of their core business.

 

An affiliate program that truly works allows for:

 

Leveraging of website traffic into real dollars

 

Earning and receipt of monthly commissions with volume advantages

 

Review sales reports 24 hours, 7 days a week

 

Advanced reporting

 

Monitor of referred traffic versus actual sales

 

Quick and easy enrollment

 

If a small or home business wants to leverage its website traffic into revenue and commission dollars, allign with a tea supplier who supplies only quality good margin products and treats affilates as true partners.

 

 

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Northside Independent School District and Prince George’s County Schools View

Silver Spring, Md. (July 16, 2009) – Northside Independent School District in San Antonio, Texas, and Prince George’s County Public Schools in Md., through a strong commitment to engaging students through digital media, are among the first school districts in the nation to view one million videos through Discovery Education streaming.

 

Discovery Education streaming, the digital video-based learning resource scientifically shown to improve academic achievement, offers teachers and students a library of up to 9,000 full-length videos segmented into 71,000 content-specific clips tied directly to state and national standards.  Searchable by keyword, content area and grade level, the rich video content and other digital assets from Discovery Education can be easily integrated into curriculum to engage today’s students in learning.

 

Discovery Education streaming is provided to Northside Independent School District (ISD) educators and students through local public broadcaster KLRN.  A student at Clark High School made the millionth view, streaming "Assignment Discovery: An Inside Look at the Flu."  To recognize the milestone, representatives from KLRN and Discovery Education presented Clark High School with video resources for science classes and highlighted Superintendent John Folks for his dedication to engaging students with 21st century learning tools and services.

 

According to Folks, "Using technology to increase academic excellence is a top priority for Northside ISD.  By using services like KLRN Connect and Discovery Education streaming, whose content is shown to improve student achievement, we continue to be on the leading edge of technological innovation in the San Antonio region."

 

The millionth streamed video for Prince George’s County Public Schools was "The Magic School Bus Gets Charged," and was viewed by a class at Oakcrest Elementary School.  According to Dr. William Hite, Jr., Superintendent, Prince George’s County Public Schools, "I credit the educators of Prince George’s County for their hard work in reaching this important milestone.  This accomplishment is a testament to their dedication to engaging students in learning through the integration of high-quality digital media into curriculum."  This summer, Discovery Education and Prince George’s County will recognize this milestone with a ceremony at the district.

 

In addition to providing digital content, Discovery Education continues to build capacity and to support educators with one of the nation’s largest professional learning communities, the Discovery Educator Network.  Through the Discovery Educator Network, educators in both districts have access to a wide range of technology training as well as a resource library of teacher-generated projects and tools.

 

According to Andy Schaefer, Discovery Education Vice President, "A number of years ago, forward-thinking districts such as Northside ISD and Prince George’s County Public Schools became the leading edge of a movement to engage students through the power of digital content.  We are proud of the dedication the Northside and Prince George’s County school systems have shown to this effort, and look forward to supporting them and our many other partner schools as they integrate Discovery Education content into their curriculum."

 

For more information on Discovery Education streaming, Discovery Education’s professional development services, or any other products and services from Discovery Education, please visit www.discoveryeducation.com or call 800-323-9084.

 

About Discovery Education

Discovery Communications (NASDAQ: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK) revolutionized television with Discovery Channel and is now transforming classrooms through Discovery Education.  Powered by the number one nonfiction media company in the world, Discovery Education combines scientifically proven, standards-based digital media and a dynamic user community in order to empower teachers to improve student achievement.  Already, more than half of all U.S. schools access Discovery Education digital services.  Explore the future of education at www.discoveryeducation.com.

 

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Indian Institute of Management Bangalore Selects SunGard Higher Education Solution

MALVERN, Pa., July 16, 2009 – The Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB), one of the top-ranked business schools in India, has selected SunGard Higher Education’s Banner Unified Digital Campus (UDC) solution to help increase efficiencies in course administration, improve student services, and enhance capabilities for collaboration with institutions in India and worldwide.  

"SunGard truly understands the global language of higher education,” said Professor Pankaj Chandra, Director, Indian Institute of Management Bangalore. “IIMB is among the top management education institutions in the world. Along with a transformative and innovative education, we want to provide our students and faculty with quality services, global collaboration opportunities and tools, and a rich academic experience that reflects our reputation for excellence. SunGard Higher Education’s student- and faculty-centric solution approach aligns perfectly with our vision.
 
We are pleased to welcome IIMB into the worldwide Banner UDC community,” said Akila Krishnakumar, chief operating officer and country head (India), SunGard.  “We look forward to supporting IIMB in realizing their vision to offer more diverse and improved services to empower students, faculty and alumni, while helping enhance operational efficiencies and measurably improving institutional performance. In working with IIMB, we also hope to help set new performance levels for efficiency, communication and collaboration among its constituents that will be benchmarks for similar higher education institutions in India.”
 
IIMB’s choice of the Banner UDC heralds SunGard Higher Education’s aggressive expansion plans in India. Having operated in India since 1993, SunGard’s global solution centers in Bangalore and Pune function as knowledge and operation hubs, combining deep domain expertise and product knowledge with specialized technical capabilities that help to cost-effectively serve SunGard’s vast portfolio of solutions and customers in the region and worldwide.
 
About Indian Institute of Management Bangalore
Established in 1973 and located in India’s technology capital Bangalore, the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB) is one of India’s premier centers for management education and research. IIMB offers a range of postgraduate, doctoral, and executive management education programmes to meet the evolving education needs of students and business professionals. IIMB’s Centers of Excellence enable faculty to focus on research issues in high-growth sectors such as software, IT, telecom and insurance among others. The institute strives to achieve excellence through partnerships with industry and leading academic institutions the world over, and consistently figures among the top business schools in India in domestic and international rankings.
 
About SunGard Higher Education
SunGard Higher Education provides software and support, systems implementation and integration, strategic consulting, and technology management services to help colleges and universities build, unify, and manage their digital campuses. SunGard Higher Education assists 1,600 colleges, universities, campuses, foundations and state systems strengthen institutional performance through improved constituent services, increased accountability, and better educational experiences. www.sungardhe.com.
 
About SunGard
SunGard is one of the world’s leading software and IT services companies. SunGard serves more than 25,000 customers in more than 70 countries, including the world’s 25 largest financial services companies.
 
SunGard provides software and processing solutions for financial services, higher education and the public sector.   SunGard also provides disaster recovery services, managed IT services, information availability consulting services and business continuity management software.
 
With annual revenue exceeding $5 billion, SunGard is ranked 435 on the Fortune 500 and is the largest privately held business software and services company on the Forbes list of private businesses. Based on information compiled by Datamonitor*, SunGard is the third largest provider of business applications software after Oracle and SAP. Continuity, Insurance & Risk has recognized SunGard as service provider of the year an unprecedented six times. For more information, please visit SunGard at www.sungard.com.
 
*January 2009 Technology Vendors Financial Database Tracker http://www.datamonitor.com
 
Trademark Information: SunGard, the SunGard logo and Banner are trademarks or registered trademarks of SunGard Data Systems Inc. or its subsidiaries in the U.S. and other countries. All other trade names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders
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A virtual game to teach children languages

The star video game developer behind Age of Empires has turned his gaming talents to something new: teaching children languages, reports The New York Times. Wiz World Online, developed by 8D World, a start-up based in Shanghai, China, and Woburn, Mass., was built by Rick Goodman, who developed the popular games Age of Empires and Empire Earth. In his latest virtual world, instead of re-enacting historical battles, Chinese children can learn English. Alex Wang, the company’s chief executive and co-founder, said the idea grew out of his personal experience landing at the San Francisco airport on his first visit from China, 21 years ago, when he was in his 20s. Though he had studied English for years and scored well on the written part of the GRE test, he discovered that he could not read the McDonald’s menu in the airport, nor could he converse with the server. Alhough he was hungry, "I was never in that kind of conversation before, and I ended up with a jumbo Coca-Cola with tons of ice," he recalled.

Click here for the full story

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Grant to pay for school bus conversion to ‘clean diesel’ technology

Conversion of nearly 100 diesel school buses to "clean diesel" technology in Springfield will receive some of the funds in a $975,609 grant the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is making to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, according to the News Leader. The Springfield project will involved 98 school buses to be converted by DNR and the Ozark Center for Sustainable Solutions at Drury University. Another13 buses will be replaced. Federal stimulus funds also will go to a retrofit project in St. Louis.

Click here for the full story

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