Epson Introduces Two Ultra Short Throw Projectors Designed with K-12 Education in Mind

 

Contact:

Duane Brozek
Epson America Inc.
562-290-5683
 
Kati Elliott
KEH Communications
410-975-9638
 
 
LONG BEACH, Calif. – Nov. 4, 2009 – Epson, the number-one selling projector brand worldwide1, today unveiled its ultra short throw projectors – the Epson PowerLite® 450W and Epson PowerLite 460, providing educators with bright projection, versatile viewing dimensions and easy-to-install solutions that fit their budgets. Designed to meet the growing demand for wall-mounted projectors, these models include hardware for quick, easy and inexpensive installation. They are ideal for use with standard or interactive whiteboards as the ultra short throw distance significantly reduces shadow interference. The PowerLite 450W and 460 also include closed captioning, a 10W speaker, the ability to deliver presentations over the network, and optional wireless capabilities to help teachers effectively engage students in the large or small classroom.
Offering a strong blend of brightness and resolution, the PowerLite 450W ($1,499*) features 2,500 lumens white light output, 2,500 lumens color light output2 and WXGA resolution (16:10 aspect ratio), fully leveraging widescreen notebooks or tablets, as well as widescreen DVD content. The PowerLite 460 ($1,699*) offers 3,000 lumens white light output, 3,000 lumens color light output and XGA resolution.
“Epson designed the PowerLite 450W and 460 as solutions for educators, knowing that the demand for ultra short throw projection is on the rise as classroom space decreases and whiteboard use increases,” said Heather Litus Johnston, product manager, K-12 Education Projection, Epson America. “Epson’s commitment to the education market inspires us to create solutions that meet educators’ needs in any teaching scenario, and these models offer the high-quality features educators have come to expect from Epson in a new ultra short throw form factor that will greatly benefit teachers and students alike.”
The PowerLite 450W and 460 also allow educators to deliver presentations over a school’s wired (using RJ-45 connectivity) or wireless network (with optional 802.11 g/b/a module $99* or access point), giving teachers increased flexibility with their lesson delivery methods. With networked presentations, educators can teach remotely, include several classrooms in one lesson by showing the same content, or allow principals to deliver presentations to the entire school without students ever leaving the classroom.
Offering increased flexibility, Epson’s new ultra short throw models can be mounted as close as 2.5 inches away from the wall to accommodate smaller classrooms or meeting rooms, and can easily be used with a standard or interactive whiteboard, projection screen or a simple white wall. These ultra short throw projectors can project a 60-inch diagonal image with the lens only 18 inches away. In addition, blocked interactive whiteboard sensors are virtually eliminated.
More about the PowerLite 450W and 460
The Epson PowerLite 450W and 460 offer extensive connectivity, display and convenience features for educators, including:
·         USB Plug ‘n Play Instant Setup: Instantly projects images from a Windows® PC or Mac via a USB connection, allowing for easier set up and eliminating the hassle of dealing with bulky VGA cables and toggling between computer keys
 
·         Microphone Input: Dedicated input allows teachers to use a microphone to amplify voice using the internal 10W speaker, saving the teacher’s voice and ensuring all students can hear; volume can be adjusted using projector or remote control buttons
 
·         Extended Lamp Life: Using Epson’s exclusive E-TORL lamp technology, the lamp life can last up to 3,500 hours3 in economy mode, and replacement E-TORL lamps can cost up to $200 less than competing replacement lamps
 
·         Closed Captioning: Built-in closed captioning decoder makes presentations accessible to viewers with hearing impairments with no added cost, and helps meet section 508 compliance
 
·         PC-Free Presentations: Offers convenient connectivity with USB memory devices such as a thumb drive for easily viewing and sharing jpeg pictures without a computer
 
·         3LCD Technology: Features the latest, 3LCD, 3-chip technology to deliver amazing, true-to-life color and detail for powerful presentations; 3LCD technology provides an energy efficient light engine which efficiently uses available lamp light to create stunning images; in contrast to 1-chip DLP technology, 3LCD requires, on average, 25 percent less electricity per lumen of brightness4
 
Epson also offers the Brighter Futures® program, a unique sales and support initiative that is available specifically for schools. Designed to help educators select and implement the best products for their classrooms while making the most of their budgets, Brighter Futures offers special pricing, extended Epson limited warranty coverage for three years, dedicated education account managers, and toll-free technical support for all Epson projectors.
Availability and Support
The Epson PowerLite 450W and Epson PowerLite 460 will be available in February 2010 through national resellers, pro audio/visual dealers, mail order, and distribution. Epson’s PowerLite projectors come with a two-year limited warranty (three years for Brighter Futures customers) that includes two elite technical support services – two-year Epson PrivateLine® phone support where projector owners can directly access an expedited support telephone line by using a phone card that is included with the product, and a two-year Road Service projector replacement program that includes projector exchange in one business day. For additional information about the new PowerLite projectors, visit www.epsonbrighterfutures.com.
About Epson America Inc.
Epson America Inc. is the U.S. affiliate of Seiko Epson Corporation and a leading provider of digital imaging products that exceed the vision of its customers. The company’s extensive range of printers, scanners and 3LCD projectors are renowned for their high quality, functionality, compactness, and energy efficiency. The Seiko Epson organization is proud of its ongoing contributions to the global environment and for the second year in a row is part of the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index, an indicator for leading companies in economic, environmental and social criteria.
# # #
1Based upon Q3 2009 worldwide front projection market share estimates from Pacific Media Associates
2Light output varies depending upon modes (color and white light output). White light output measured using ISO 21118 standard
3Lamp life will vary depending upon mode selected, environmental conditions and usage. Lamp Brightness decreases over time.
4Source: ProjectorCentral.com Jan 2009. Average of 796 shipping models for which the manufacturers provided lumens and total power data, all resolutions and brightness levels. Energy efficiency was measured as wattage per lumen. It was measured for both 3LCD and 1-chip projectors in six different lumens categories. 3LCD projectors averaged less required electricity per lumen in each of the six categories.
 

Note: Epson and E-TORL are registered trademarks and Epson Exceed Your Vision is a registered logomark of Seiko Epson Corporation. PowerLite is a registered trademark of Epson America Inc. All other product brand names are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of their respective companies. Epson disclaims any and all rights in these marks.

*All prices are estimated street price

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Educators and social networking—final report finds 61% of educators have joined a social network and see a high value for this technology in education.






Princeton, NJ – November 4, 2009 – Final results of a Survey of K-12 Educators on Social Networking and Content-Sharing Tools were released this week.  The survey was sent to 83,000 educators nation-wide (teachers, principals, and librarians) during late August and September.

 

The purpose of the study, which will be conducted on an annual basis, is to begin benchmarking educators’ use and attitudes about Web 2.0 collaborative technologies such as social networking, blogging, wikis, video-sharing, and more.  Students are far ahead of educators in their use of technology, and this survey is intended to provide information than can help measure and close the gap.

 

Educators, like millions of other Americans, are exploring the world of social networks.  61% of the educators surveyed have joined one or more social networking websites.  While Facebook is current the number 1 site joined (85%), 76% of educators seldom or never use it.  Many educators express the need and desire to separate their personal and professional lives.  There are a number of social networks that are dedicated specifically to education.  Although these sites currently have low penetration, educators expressed a strong preference to join a social network dedicated to education. 

 

A key finding is that educators who have already joined a social network are more positive about the technology and its value in education than educators who have not joined a social network. They also engage in more online activities in general.  As the younger generation that has grown up on social networks enters the education workforce, there will be increasing desire and pressure to use this technology for professional and classroom collaboration.

 

Educators who responded provided insight on the factors that are inhibiting the growth of this technology in educational settings including—major privacy concerns, schools/districts that block access to these website, and time pressure. 

 

The survey was co-sponsored by edWeb.net, MCH, Inc., and MMS Education.

 

A copy of the report can be downloaded from any of the sponsors’ websites: www.edweb.net, www.mmseducation.com, or www.mailings.com.

 

For more information, send an email to survey@edweb.net or call 800-575-6015, ext. 100.

 

About the Sponsors

 

edWeb.net is a professional social network for the education community that makes it easy to connect and collaborate with colleagues, share information and best practices, and create professional learning communities. The edWeb is a user-friendly Web 2.0 platform that introduces educators to technology that students use every day, mostly outside of school. The edWeb is free for education professionals and for educational institutions. Education companies are invited to join as sponsors. The site is located at www.edweb.net. For more information, contact Lisa Schmucki, founder and CEO, at 800-575-6015, ext. 100, or by email at lisa@edweb.net.  Follow the edWeb on Twitter at www.twitter.com/edwebnet.

 

MCH, Inc. is a leading source of compiled data on education, health, and government institutions in the United States. MCH is a privately owned company that has been in the education market for over 80 years. MCH is a strategic partner of edWeb.net and is helping to spread the word about the edWeb to the preK-12 education community. For more information, contact John Hood, president, at 800-776-6373 or by email at johnh@mailings.com.

 

MMS Education is a national market research, consulting and marketing company specializing exclusively in the education market. MMS is particularly interested in how social networking and social media will provide enhanced opportunities for educators to collaborate peer to peer, and also as a way for education companies and nonprofit organizations to connect more directly with the educators who use their products and services in classrooms every day. For more information, see www.mmseducation.com or contact Susan Keipper Meell, CEO, at 800-523-5948 or by email at smeell@mmseducation.com.

 

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SETDA forum illuminates key ed-tech trends

Attending this year’s annual State Education Technology Directors Association (SETDA) Education Forum was like sitting through a timeline of technology integration in schools during the last few years: Participants heard about what’s now the norm (interactive whiteboards, or IWBs), what’s hot on everyone’s list (digital textbooks), and what’s on the horizon (national high school reform).

Educators, administrators, and ed-tech vendors from around the country attended the forum, titled "Defining the Future of Learning Today." Of course, before you can define the future, you must remember where you’ve come from.

In his opening keynote, Robert Marzano, CEO of Marzano Research Laboratory, presented his organization’s newest research report, titled "Evaluation Study of the Effects of Promethean ActivClassroom on Student Achievement," which details how interactive whiteboards can affect student learning.

"I was nervous to do this report," Marzano said, "because you always hope for positive results, but you never know what to expect. I’m happy to show you these results, because they clearly show that technology … makes a positive impact on learning."

During the 2008-09 school year, 79 teachers from 50 schools participated in independent studies to determine how using Promethean’s ActivClassroom affects student achievement in their classroom.

According to the report, when interactive whiteboards were incorporated into the classroom, there was a percentile gain of 17 overall, meaning students at the 50th percentile would move to the 67th percentile if they had been taught with the help of an IWB.

"We saw that the more the tech was used in the classroom, meaning the more time spent using it, the higher the percentile increase. However, sometimes, during the most prolific uses of the tech, the percentile decreased. This is due to teachers not appropriately using the technology," Marzano said.

He went on to explain that there is a "sweet spot" in using IWBs: If an experienced teacher who’s been using technology for two or more years uses the board appropriately for 75 percent of the class time, and has enough training to be confident in his or her use of the technology, student achievement gains were highest.

Whether the IWB was being used correctly also was studied through varying factors associated with IWB use, such as student skill in IWBs, teacher skill, and use of IWB reinforcers (functions such as applause, drag and drop, hidden content, voting, and so on).

"You have to make sure it’s not all bells and whistles," said Marzano. "The teachers [who] didn’t see improvement with IWBs were usually those who didn’t make sure the content, and not the add-ons, came first. Content, and knowing what you’re trying to teach, is key."

The study also revealed what teachers need to do to use their IWB correctly and efficiently with regard to presenting content. For example, content should be:

• Previewed: The teacher should introduce the content to the students.
• Chunked: The content should be delivered in small, digestible chunks of information.
• Scaffolded: Teachers should show how one piece of information correlates to the others and build up to the point of the lesson.
• Paced: The teacher must make sure students can keep up but at the same time not get bored.
• Be interactive for students.

Students also must be able to understand the material and provide feedback, as well as be able to reflect and respond to what they have just learned.

"If these steps aren’t followed, IWBs can actually impair learning," said Marzano.

Marzano said the next IWB study will slice more deeply into the classroom variables associated with IWB use, such as response rates and nonlinguistic representations and their effects on learning. (Editor’s note: For more information about the initial study, see "Study: Ed tech leads to significant gains.")

Digital content on the march

After reviewing how IWBs can help affect learning and giving concrete examples of the technology’s success, the forum then moved on to "Digital Content for the 21st Century Education Experience," which gave attendees a glimpse into the issues surrounding this now hot topic in education. Already, major advancements in–and support for–digital textbooks have occurred in Indiana, Virginia, West Virginia, Florida, California, and Texas.

For example, thanks to a new state law (H.B. 4294) that allows districts to use state funds to buy the technical equipment to support the use of electronic texts or instructional materials, Texas is becoming a leader in using digital resources.

"The teachers in our district aren’t even using printed textbooks anymore," said Jennifer Bergland, chief technology officer for Bryan Independent School District. "Students want interactive content, not broadcasted material. Pedagogy also needs to change, making the teacher a mentor and not a sage. Digital texts can help bring about these changes critical to 21st-century learning."

"Digital resources can also be used in assessment," said Mike Russell, associate professor for educational research at Boston College. "Digital resources can really help bring about universal design [for learning]."

Russell explained that "universal design" refers to something designed to be usable by all people to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized skill. "Right now, tests are developed for the general population and administered under standard conditions, usually with paper," he said. "We need a new model for testing."

This new model, Russell said, should include a change in presentation (allowing for magnification, high contrast, color filters, or reading aloud), equipment, response method, and scheduling (such as elongated timing, spacing testing over several days, and allowing for responses to occur outside of a classroom). Russell believes new testing using digital means could allow for these accommodations easily, while also allowing for alternative representations.

For example, water could be depicted by the word "water," as a chemical structure, as an image, and so on. "An alternative representation means spelling, saying, signing the concept, images, Braille, and so much more. Digital resources allow for this and can therefore serve all students without classifying them as special needs," he said.

He continued, "I’d say that digital content providers right now need to focus on, and deepen their understanding of, alternative representations."

Although many teachers sign up for digital content, there is still not a lot of consistent, scalable use of this content by teachers, said Bill Kelly, CEO of digital content provider Learning.com.

"We knew it wasn’t because of student access to computers, or teachers’ lack of technical skill," explained Kelly, because Learning.com conducted a statewide study in Texas measuring these two factors and found about 90 percent of students have access to a computer, and most teachers have a social-networking profile (proving they have enough technical skill to manage a digital content portal). "So we decided to test a pilot program with two Texas districts to see how we could engage teachers."

According to the pilot program’s results, the key to more consistent teacher use of digital content is making the resources highly customizable and organized according to individual preferences.

"If a teacher, or school, can organize and customize their digital content platform, usage increases by a high percentage," Kelly said. "Digital content resources also should be data-driven, easy to use, crowdsourced, and integrated into the curriculum." (Editor’s note: "Crowdsourcing" is a neologism for the act of taking a task normally performed by an employee or contractor and issuing an open call for a large group of people or a community to perform it, usually via the internet.)

High school reform on the way

A final session at the forum touched on high school reform–a topic Education Secretary Arne Duncan has on his agenda to improve U.S. schools.

"At the policy level, there are four measures that can [define] successful reform," said Lyndsay Pinkus, senior policy associate for the Alliance for Excellent Education, "and those measures are breaking the cycles of inequity, preparing for 21st-century employability, reducing the economic costs of failure, and maintaining America’s global competitiveness."

She continued, "The time is ripe for reform. By combining the reform measures included in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, as well as creating state-led common standards and having new budgets and appropriations, reform could happen with the right steps."

Representatives from both Alabama and North Carolina next gave examples of how their states and local schools have begun to reform high school education.

"At the state level, we have the Access distance-learning program, a new graduation requirement that includes an online requirement, credit recovery and advancement, and a removed seat-time requirement," said Melinda Maddox, state educational technology director for the Alabama Department of Education.

"At the local level, we have initiated one-to-one [computing] programs and offered college and Advanced Placement programs via online learning," said Patricia MacNeill, assistant superintendent of Greene County Schools in North Carolina. "By implementing these technological changes, we’ve seen our college attendance rate go from 26 percent to 94 percent. We’ve also seen a decrease in dropout rates and teen pregnancies."

She continued, "Integrating technology is hard, I must say. There are so many challenges besides just funding, such as network problems, student responsibility for their learning, and helping teachers become comfortable with 21st-century teaching. But to see what an impact it makes, to know you are changing, and sometimes even saving, lives … makes it all so worth it."

On Nov. 16, SETDA will have a new leader: Long-time ed-tech industry executive Douglas Levin will take the reins from current SETDA Executive Director Mary Ann Wolf–and with challenges ranging from state funding shortages to the formation of a new national broadband plan, he’ll have his work cut out for him. (Editor’s note: For more information about SETDA’s leadership change, see "SETDA names new executive director.")

Links:

State Education Technology Directors Association

"Evaluation Study of the Effects of Promethean ActivClassroom on Student Achievement" 

Learning.com

Alliance for Excellent Education

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Zed-Axis Technologies Offers its Repair Management Solution in Software as a Service (SaaS) Model

New Delhi — Zed-Axis Technologies, a global IT solutions Company based out in New Delhi, India, gains a sharper competitive edge by announcing the release of its Repair Management Solution in Software as a Service (SaaS) model. After the successful implementation of their customized Repair Management System for major mobile manufacturers and consumer durable companies, the company now offers a powerful alternative to one-time investment incurred on account of the software development, dedicated infrastructure, and on-going upgrade and maintenance of the solution.
 
The unveiling of Repair Management System in SaaS model has already created a buzz amongst mid-size mobile manufacturers and dedicated repair & service providing companies. Company’s Associate Head, Business Development, Mr. Mayank Joshi states, “Since the news is out, we are enthused to receive innumerable inquiry calls, especially from SMEs that require Repair Management Software to automate their business processes.” Mr. Joydeep Kalra, Director Business Development and one of the co-founders at Zed-Axis claims, “Clients are pleased to know that they can use a robust and scalable Repair Management Software by paying just for the user licenses, without worrying about operating & maintaining the software which Zed-Axis manages on its secured servers.”

Contact Zed-Axis to ask for more information about Repair Management Solution in SaaS model.

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Zed Axis Technologies is an end to end Offshore Outsourcing company catering to Global partners. Zed-Axis specializes in Web site Design & Development, Ecommerce Solutions, mission critical Business Application Development, Custom Software Development, Online Application Development, Interactive Web Promotions, Internet Marketing Solutions, Mobile Application Development and many other value added solutions & services.

Zed-Axis Technologies Pvt. Ltd. – a New Delhi, India based company is ISO 9001:2008 Certified. Zed-Axis is Microsoft Certified Partner Company with certified competencies in Custom Development Solutions, Business Intelligence Solutions, Mobility Solutions, and Data Management Solutions.
 

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ED announces new tech chief

Karen Cator, former director of education leadership and advocacy for Apple Inc. and a long-time education technology leader, will serve as the new director of the Office of Educational Technology (OET) for the U.S. Department of Education (ED).

The announcement was made by Jim Shelton, ED’s assistant deputy secretary for innovation and improvement, during the opening session of the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) Leadership Forum Nov. 3. Cator was unavailable for comment as of press time.

Cator served as chair of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills from September 2006 to September 2007. She also was in charge of technology planning and implementation in the Juneau, Alaska, school district before joining Apple in 1997.

OET is responsible for coordinating the development and implementation of ED’s education technology policies, research projects, and national technology summits. The office’s main goal is to maximize technology’s contributions to improving education.

The announcement coincides with the development of a new National Education Technology Plan that will provide a vision for how information and communication technologies can help transform American education. The plan will provide a set of concrete goals that can inform state and local ed-tech plans, as well as inspire research, development, and innovation. A draft of the new plan is expected in early 2010.

ED is asking ed-tech experts for their insights from the field as officials draft the new national plan.

ED has asked respondents to contribute ideas, opinions, and recommendations for the plan through a new web site, edtechfuture.org.

Comments can include a description and link to a published resource such as a journal article, report, book chapter, or paper that discusses educational or technological developments that can help inform the plan; a description of an innovative technology system or tool such as hardware, software, or an application that holds promise for transforming the nation’s education system; or a description of the implementation of a program, activity, curriculum, or system redesign that has successfully harnessed innovative technology to enhance student learning, high-quality teaching, effective assessment, or other educational goals.

Links:

New National Educational Technology Plan

U.S. Department of Education

State Education Technology Directors Association

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ABC News recruits college reporters

Students from six universities are pitching news stories and supplementing national reports for ABC News in a high-pressure program that uses technology and video-editing software while training students for future journalism careers.

ABC News On Campus was launched last year, drawing students from five campuses across the country who were selected after a thorough application process that created college news bureaus of five or six participants at each campus. The University of Nebraska was added to the program this fall, and students’ broadcast stories are garnering local and national attention on ABC News web sites.

ABC News On Campus isn’t just an advanced internship for up-and-coming journalists, but a resource for the news organization in reporting breaking news stories, said John Green, executive producer for the On Campus program.

Last April, when a gunman killed 13 people and himself in a Binghampton, N.Y., community center, ABC News On Campus dispatched Meghan Lisson–a senior at nearby Syracuse University at the time–to capture footage from the tragic scene. Lisson grabbed her camera and drove an hour and a half to help cover the story.

"The idea was to build mini-bureaus that would function very much as if they were satellite news bureaus for ABC," said Green, a former senior producer for ABC’s "Good Morning America." "They’re getting real-life experience with us."

ABC News investigative and business journalists talk with On Campus student reporters about strategies for news collection, writing, and broadcasting.

ABC didn’t want to limit college-based reporting to the 30 students in the On Campus program, so the company solicited story ideas from "roving reporters"–journalism students who could submit video stories or story pitches in an online submission form.

Kasey Hott, a senior broadcast news major from West Virginia University, was selected by ABC in August as the Roving Reporter of the Year. Hott, recognized for her broadcast story on the second anniversary of the Virginia Tech shootings, got an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City and meetings with top ABC News executives.

On Campus student reporters receive laptops, DVD cameras, and the editing software program Media Composer, made by technology company Avid. The editing program lets students edit video news reports immediately after shooting video. Without the cutting-edge equipment, students would have to wait until they got back to their campus newsroom, Lisson said, which adds hours to creating breaking news pieces.

Pitching stories and fielding calls from ABC News executives, she said, required an adjustment for students not accustomed to a high-pressure work atmosphere.

"They wouldn’t sugarcoat anything," said Lisson, 22, who now works as a page at NBC headquarters in New York. "If they didn’t like a story, they’d tell you that. And if they loved it, they’d tell you they loved it."

Students are also schooled in how to craft stories for certain audiences. "Good Morning America," for instance, runs shorter segments geared to a mostly female audience. Stories for ABC’s "Nightline," Green said, are generally lengthier and watched by more men.

Working with 20-somethings, Green said, has helped ABC News decision makers evaluate the news consumption of young people as they stray further from traditional media outlets.

"We do get a lot of great insight into what this particular audience is looking for in terms of news coverage," he said, adding that On Campus students also have contributed stories to ESPN and ESPN U, a network dedicated to college sports. "And we’re lucky the program is helping identify the cream of the crop at these universities, with the hope that we can keep them and bring them into ABC."

ABC News’s name recognition has helped student journalists nab stories and interviews they might have missed if they called from their on-campus newsroom. Lisson said she landed an interview with the founder of controversial college gossip web site JuicyCampus largely because she was affiliated with a major news organization. 
 
"That would have never happened if I was doing it for my campus paper or my campus news station," she said. "That happened because it was on that national level."

Schools in the On Campus program are the University of Florida, the University of Texas at Austin, Arizona State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Syracuse University, and the University of Nebraska.

Links:

ABC News On Campus

Meghan Lisson’s web site

 

Avid

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Slazenger X-Tec Armour M2 Cricket Batting Pads

Slazenger’s new 2009 season cricket equipment range is available to be ordered online from specialist cricket equipment retailers and in stores.

The new X-Tec Armour M2 cricket batting legguards are a top of the range, International level protection batting pad with ultra light moulded impact absorption foam for ultimate wrap around protection. They have a contemporary design offering a contoured knee bolster bar, angled knee roll and top hat for perfect fit and Tri-Flex shaped knee roll for advanced manoeuvrability.

The VAP-R8 padded mesh, three piece inner shin bolster bars help wick away moisture making the pads more comfortable to wear and therefore improving performance.

The X-Tec Armour batting pads have a Dura Tec instep for increased durability and Action PU facing for durability and easy care.

You can order the Slazenger cricket equipment range online from Morrant Sports and other leading cricket retailers.

 

Established in 1973, Morrant Group Ltd is a family run business with over 35 years experience in mail order team sports equipment. Father, Daughter, Son and staff are working hard every day to ensure that our company achieves its aim.We sell a range of sports gear, including cricket equipment and goods. Please visit our website at http://www.morrant.com for further information.

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China expands U.S. college language centers

In a small room at the University of South Florida, Maya Ueda and two classmates prepare for a Mandarin exam. A pot of green tea idles nearby, and Chinese folk instruments, games, and movies fill the cabinets and bookcases.

Although the students are doing their work at a state school on Florida’s Gulf Coast, the center they are studying in is part of a global outreach by the government of China called the Confucius Institute. The cultural and language centers have sprung up around the world, hosted at universities eager to boost their Mandarin offerings as China’s economic influence grows.

The Confucius Institute at South Florida is one of nearly 60 such centers in the United States, and 396 globally in 87 countries. They fill language instruction needs at a time when many universities are grappling with budget cuts. Most receive initial funding and faculty from China.

Ueda, a 23-year-old psychology major, is planning a career in business, and many of the companies she is interested in require fluency in at least one Asian language. She believes having a firm grasp of Mandarin will help her stand out.

"By understanding that language and culture, I’ll be able to interact with Chinese business people," Ueda said. "I think that will definitely expand my career opportunities."

China observers see the Confucius Institutes as part of the nation’s efforts to reshape its image from that of a threatening superpower. Such displays of "soft power" are hardly new, though analysts say the Confucius Institutes are unique in the close relationships they establish with universities.

That arrangement has raised concerns about whether cozying up with China and its communist, authoritarian government might interfere with a university’s academic freedom.

The University of Pennsylvania never applied to host an institute, nor did China ever ask the school to do so, said G. Cameron Hurst III, the former director of Penn’s Center for East Asian Studies.

"There was a general feeling that it was not an appropriate thing for us to do," he said.

"We feel absolutely confident in the instructors that we train here, and we didn’t want them meddling in our curriculum, particularly," Hurst said of Chinese officials. "And we were not sure of what their political motivations really are, anyway."

Others say the institutes haven’t been a threat to academic integrity.

"It’s a very long term strategy to get people to appreciate Chinese culture," said Stan Rosen, director of the University of Southern California’s East Asian Studies Center. "They steer away from those kinds of political issues, just to teach straight language. Because they know this is exactly what critics of China might be looking for."

The Confucius Institutes have many precedents. Germany has its Goethe Institutes and France the Alliance Francaise. Britain, Italy, Spain, and other countries also have established centers in nations around the world to promote the study of their language and culture. The former United States Information Agency did something similar, though with the explicit goal of attempting to influence public attitudes abroad to support U.S. foreign policy objectives.

Demand for Mandarin classes has been growing. According to the Chinese Ministry of Education, about 40,000 foreign students travel to take classes in China each year. Courses are popping up in schools in the United States as well, starting as early as kindergarten.

A study published by the Modern Language Association of America in 2007 found that enrollment in Chinese language courses at U.S. colleges and universities had increased 51 percent between 2002 and 2006 to 51,000. Most students still choose to study Spanish, French or German, but the report found that their dominance has been slowly decreasing.

"Our programs were maxed out," said Randy Kluver, director of the Confucius Institute at Texas A&M University.

Finding qualified Mandarin teachers has been a struggle in many parts of the country. It is a difficult language for many nonnative speakers to learn. A word’s meaning can change depending on the tone in which it is pronounced. Sentence structure, too, differs considerably from English and other European languages.

The first Confucius Institute outside China was established in Seoul, South Korea, in 2004. The first U.S. center was created at the University of Maryland. The institutes are largely at state universities. According to the official Xinhua News Agency, the Chinese government plans to establish 500 Confucius Institutes by 2010. Today they range from Finland to Rwanda.

Each institute is paired with a Chinese university, which sends visiting instructors. Curriculum is determined by each institution, though China offers teaching materials and instruction models. Any messages about China are conveyed indirectly.

Maria Crummett, dean of international affairs at the University of South Florida, likened the institutes to "people-to-people diplomacy. This is not about diplomacy at the highest levels. This is about faculty, students, staff, administrators, the community."

Visiting Chinese teachers said they come face to face with skepticism about China in class, fielding questions such as, "How would China feel if Americans were taking jobs away from them?" and "Are all Chinese people good at kung fu?"

Those are the exceptions, said Yirong Luo, a visiting Mandarin teacher at the Confucius Institute at Texas A&M. Most students, Luo said, "very much want to know the real China."

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Confucius Institute

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Alabama Schools Make $2.9 Million Green Commitment

The Florence City Schools in Florence, Ala., are implementing $2.9 million in facility enhancements designed to improve operations, comfort and efficiency at nine district buildings totaling more than 925,000 square feet. Schneider Electric, the global specialist in energy management, will complete the work as a performance contract with the district. Schneider Electric guarantees that Florence City Schools will reduce its utility costs by at least $207,000 annually when the project is completed in October 2010.

Located in northwestern Alabama, Florence City Schools serves more than 4,300 students in grades PK through 12 and has a reputation as a progressive and technically advanced district. Florence administrators turned to Schneider Electric to resolve building system control and comfort problems in some of their schools. The performance contract offered the best solution to these problems and provided energy savings as well.
 
“The district implemented a behavioral modification program focused on energy conservation five years ago. Then Schneider Electric came and showed us how to further reduce our energy usage,” said Dr. Kendy Behrends, superintendent, Florence City Schools. “We are excited about strategically reinvesting the money we have been paying on utilities, and the facilities staff is pleased we are taking advantage of this opportunity to fund the controls and lighting upgrades that they had been wanting for years.”
 
Performance contracting offers many long-term benefits for school districts, such as improved facility efficiency, occupant comfort, financial management and environmental protection. Typically, new, more efficient equipment and upgraded facility automation systems maximize energy efficiency and generate utility savings. Schneider Electric guarantees the amount of savings performance contracting projects will achieve and agrees to pay the difference if that amount is not realized.
 
The energy savings Schneider Electric promises for the Florence City Schools will avoid 57 million pounds of C02 pollution. This is equivalent to planting more than 3.5 million trees, avoiding 63 million miles of driving, or taking 6,300 cars off the roads.
 
The top priority of the Florence City School’s administration was to replace an obsolete building management system (BMS) at two district schools with the same direct digital control (DDC) BMS in place in the majority of their schools. Upgrading all the buildings to the same DDC BMS provides the district with the efficiency and functionality it needs to effectively operate their buildings. Other energy conservation measures that Schneider Electric will implement include a comprehensive lighting retrofit, lighting occupancy sensors and control integration, plumbing fixture upgrades, replacing programmable thermostats with BMS connected thermostats with occupancy sensors, retro-commissioning of the BMS, and building optimization.
 
A final important component of the project is to alleviate the 20 degree temperature difference from ceiling to floor in the dome gym at Florence High School that occurs during heating mode. Schneider Electric will implement stratification control to gently drive the hot ceiling level air down to the floor, which will dramatically reduce energy consumption and improve comfort.
 
“The Florence City School district will achieve a 22 percent energy unit savings and 18 percent energy cost savings as a result of this project. The funding mechanism available through performance contracting enables the district to fund long-needed upgrades to the BMS and lighting systems,” said Shon Anderson, vice president, sales, Energy Solutions group of Schneider Electric. “In addition, there has been increased student, faculty and community awareness and involvement through districtwide green initiatives – helping the district continue its reputation as being one of the most progressive districts in the state.”
 
About Schneider Electric
As a global specialist in energy management with operations in more than 100 countries, Schneider Electric offers integrated solutions across multiple market segments, including leadership positions in energy and infrastructure, industrial processes, building automation, security, and data centers/networks, as well as a broad presence in residential applications. Focused on making energy safe, reliable, and efficient, the company’s 114,000 employees achieved sales of more than 18.3 billion euros in 2008, through an active commitment to help individuals and organizations "Make the most of their energy.”   www.schneider-electric.com.
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M86 Security™ Acquires Finjan




Orange, Calif. – November 3, 2009 –M86 Security, a global provider of Web and messaging security products, today announced the acquisition of Finjan, a leading provider of secure Web gateway solutions for the enterprise market. This acquisition adds Finjan’s line of enterprise-class secure Web gateway and SaaS-based solutions to M86 Security’s portfolio of Email and Web security solutions and significantly enhances the company’s malware detection technology.

 

Under the terms of the agreement, M86 acquires Finjan’s global operations, products, and technology, which merge into M86 Security effective immediately. The company will maintain a development center and operations in Netanya, Israel. M86 will also merge Finjan’s security labs, Malicious Code Research Center, into M86 Security Labs, forming a comprehensive Email and Web threat research organization. As part of the agreement, M86 Security acquires a license to Finjan’s patents. 

 

M86 Security was formed by the November 2008 merger of Marshal and 8e6 Technologies. Finjan is the company’s second acquisition in the last six months, following the March 2009 acquisition of behavioral malware detection company Avinti, Inc. The acquisition grows M86 Security’s employee base to just more than 300 employees.

 

“We are very pleased to add Finjan’s technology, products, customers and employees to the M86 team,” said John Vigouroux, chief executive officer at M86 Security.  “With M86’s complementary Email security and reporting products and worldwide distribution, we anticipate a broad opportunity for Finjan’s enterprise-class Web security solutions to existing and new customers.”

 

Mr. Vigouroux joined M86 in April 2009 from his position as President and CEO of Finjan. Recently, the company had also hired Werner Thalmeier as vice president of product management. Thalmeier previously held the same position at Finjan. “With my own knowledge of Finjan’s business, coupled with Werner’s deep technical knowledge of the products, we’re confident about our aggressive plan to integrate its secure Web gateway into the M86 product line,” Vigouroux added.

 

The Finjan acquisition is well-timed for M86 as Web-based threats have increased dramatically to become the main point of attack. Many organizations are looking to implement malware protection in addition to existing Web filtering strategies.

 

According to Gartner, “The Web gateway represents the best location not only to filter inbound threats but also to intercept outbound malware communications, before vital information is lost. However, fewer than 20 percent of organizations have implemented malware detection in Web gateways. Implementing a secure Web gateway is the most effective and economical method to minimize malware infections.” *

 

Finjan provides active real-time content inspection and code analysis technology focused on identifying malware delivered inbound through the Web channel.  In addition, Finjan’s Anti-Crimeware and Anti-Malware protection protects against Web 2.0-based malware. This technology addresses one of the most important entry points for malware into the business network and provides effective protection of Web threats that are not recognized by traditional signature-based technologies.

 

“We are very excited to see Finjan become part of M86 Security,” said Gadi Maier, president and CEO of Finjan Software, Inc. “Finjan is well known for its advanced malware detection technology and leading secure Web gateway and hybrid SaaS solutions. Integrating it into M86’s broader Web and messaging product lines and utilizing its worldwide distribution is a win-win for M86 Security and Finjan.”

 

“The acquisition of Finjan supports our strategy to become the recognized leader in comprehensive inbound and outbound content security,” added Vigouroux. “With their real-time code analysis and our behavior-based malware detection, M86 now offers industry-leading threat protection technologies on both the Web and Email, and can provide an effective way to enable these technologies on appliances, software, or in the cloud.”

 

About M86 Security

            M86 Security is a global provider of Web and messaging security products, delivering comprehensive protection to more than 20,000 customers and over 16 million users worldwide. As one of the largest independent internet security companies, we have the expertise, product breadth and technology to protect organizations from both current and emerging threats. Our appliance, software and cloud-based solutions leverage real-time threat data to proactively secure customers’ networks from malware and spam; protect their sensitive information; and maintain employee productivity. The company is based in Orange, California with international headquarters in London and offices worldwide. For more information about M86 Security, please visit http://www.m86security.com/.

 

* Gartner, Inc. "Top 10 Steps to Avoid Malware Infections" by Peter Firstbrook, Sept. 8, 2009

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