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News 08-02-2002

California Internet Goal: One Gigabit or Bust

The State of California has awarded $2 million to the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC) to focus on achieving 1 Gigabit broadband to all Californians by 2010. CENIC's Next Generation Internet Roundtable and Centers initiative aims to catalyze industry, public interest organizations and educational institutions, as well as local, state and federal governments, to create a technology test bed for "first mile" solutions to speed the deployment of 1G or 1 billion bit per second networks to Californians in the next decade. Under the grant, CENIC, a not-for-profit formed by CalTech, Cal State, Stanford, the University of California and the University of Southern California, will develop a strategy to define the future of high-performance networking for research, education, and commerce in California. Said CENIC president Tom West: "The range of California's population, geographical and economic characteristics makes it a microcosm of the national challenges in rolling out one Gbps broadband capabilities across the nation."

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Sponsor: Plan Now to Present at Syllabus fall2002

Share your expertise with education technology's leaders when you present at the Syllabus fall2002 conference, November 3-5. At this, Syllabus' 4th annual autumn visit to the Boston area, faculty, administrators and IT professionals will gather at the Boston Marriott Newton Hotel to explore the latest applications of information technology in higher education institutions. Compelling technology topics presented in a collegial atmosphere is the hallmark of Syllabus' Boston conferences. Be there to set the tone with your presentation. Proposals to present at the main conference or to lead a full- or half-day seminar during the pre-conference are due by August 15.

Submission guidelines, content areas and complete details can be found online at

UCLA Urban Simulation Program Repowered

The Urban Simulation Laboratory at UCLA, which studies city problems through the use of digital mapping and visualization technology, has boosted the power of its computing resources. The lab is the first customer of Silicon Graphics Inc.'s InfiniteReality4 system, which works on SGI's Onyx high performance computers and has been able to achieve dramatic increases in visual realism. The lab has created a 3D fly/drive-through of the downtown Los Angeles area, which the new graphics system will enhance with highly realistic, textured 3D models. InfiniteReality4, with its 1GB of texture memory, allows UCLA students and professors to use more photo-based, real-world textures for the buildings and surrounding environments, in addition to higher-quality textures. The chief benefit is much higher visual fidelity over larger areas than was achievable before while still maintaining real-time interactivity.

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IBM, Thomson to Pursue E-Learning Market

IBM and Thomson Corp., a provider of corporate training solutions, formed a joint venture to go after the $18 billion worldwide market for corporate and government e-learning. The deal calls for the combination of IBM's e-learning technologies and Thomson learning products. The two will jointly market and resell the combined assets to corporate and government customers. They will also jointly develop next-generation courseware and e-learning solutions based on open standards. Using Thomson development tools, IBM will customize Thomson courses to help its customers train employees on company-specific products. Thomson will support IBM's clients by creating industry and function specific learning tracks that contain branded content. "While today's e-learning market is highly fragmented, the pairing of IBM's technologies and services and Thomson's vast course portfolio is an attractive combination for nearly every industry and profession worldwide," said Nancy DeViney, general manager for learning services at IBM.

WebCT, HP, Conduct Performance Testing

Course management system developer WebCT and HP said they finished a performance test on WebCT's higher-education e-learning software running on HP ProLiant servers. The tests established benchmark characteristics of WebCT, based on configuration variables for memory, processor count, active users and number of identical servers running in a load-balanced configuration. The companies said the results confirm that higher education institutions can scale reliably to hundreds of thousands of users without performance degradation. WebCT president Carol Vallone said tests "...confirm that our joint customers can create thriving, high-performance Internet learning environments and be confident that their hardware/software infrastructures can fully and reliably support them."

Sallie Mae Pledges Loan Data Access to All

Student loan financier Sallie Mae said it would make its student-loan data available beginning this month to all financial aid professionals through the National Council of Higher Education Loan Program's (NCHELP) Meteor network. By allowing access to its student loan data, Sallie Mae said it is supporting development of a non-commercial, universal data access infrastructure. "We believe in the inherent value of having open data inquiry capabilities within the marketplace ...," said Tim Fitzpatrick, president and chief operating officer, Sallie Mae. Meteor is a Web-based universal data access point for borrower financial aid information. When fully implemented, Meteor will display aggregate information including FFELP, private, Perkins and direct loans and grants. Schools and borrowers using Meteor can see a complete financial aid package in a single view regardless of their loan delivery software.

Awards, Deals, Contracts, in Higher Education

-- The University of California picked CyberSource, a provider of electronic payment and risk management systems, to manage its electronic payment processing. The payment system enables real-time payments via credit, debit, and procurement card and/or electronic check. It can be used within the UC system to process payments accepted over the Internet for tuition, registration and administration fees, athletic tickets and campus bookstore purchases, among others.

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