Top tools for learning 2011 & ABC TV 2012

Top tools for learning 2011
Jane Hart’s Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies (C4LPT) recently posted the Top Tools for Learning 2011 (their 5th annual survey). Contributions came from over 500 learning professionals worldwide.

Here’s the top 20: Twitter; YouTube; Google Docs; Skype; WordPress; Dropbox; Prezi; Moodle; Slideshare; Glogster; Wikipedia; Blogger; Diigo; Facebook; Google Search; Google Reader; Evernote; Jing; Powerpoint; Gmail.
New to the list in 2011 are: iPad and apps (44); Kindle (82); Khan Academy (74); Scoopit (33); Storify (69); (90); ReadItLater (90); Knol (63)….Interesting to see how the ratings will change next year.

Click here for a clear and simple slideshow of the Top 100:
Top tools in categories:
Tools directory – all kinds of learning tools – something for everyone!:

What’s on ABC TV in 2012?
Some good TV coming up next year…
Miss Fisher’s murder mysteries – Kerry Greenwood’s glamorous 1920s detective Phryne Fisher.
Mabo – the land rights battle of Eddie Koiki Mabo. Stars Jimi Bani and Deborah Mailman.
Redfern now – Aust’s first indigenous primetime drama series.
Randling – Andrew Denton returns to host this word-based game show; “whitewater rafting for the brain”.
Shaun Micallef is as mad as hell – offbeat take on the news of the world.
Photo finish – Andrew Gunsberg series with photographic challenges.
Sporting nation – John Clarke’s 3 part series.
Australia on trial – history series.
Australia: a time traveller’s guide – spectacular doco with Richard Smith.
Resistance – a 26 part children’s sci fi series, a joint Aust-Canadian production that will screen on ABC3 late in 2012. A group of teenage resistance fighters are armed with cutting-edge technology and funded by a mysterious young billionaire.
LOL – sketch comedy show on ABC3 for children aged 10-15 yrs. The regular cast of teens create this funny and unpredictable show, which was written by comedy writers and performers.
Sounds good!

CK12 Flexbooks & Quiki

CK12 Flexbooks

This excellent US site has free downloadable & customizable digital textbooks for science, maths, technology and engineering for years K to 12, including some student workbooks (most books seem to be high school level). Includes easy video tutorial for customizing books and chapters. You can also add your own content to the book. More info:

 “CK-12 Foundation is a non-profit organization with a mission to reduce the cost of textbook materials for the K-12 market both in the US and worldwide. Using an open-content, web-based collaborative model termed the “FlexBook,” CK-12 intends to pioneer the generation and distribution of high quality educational content that will serve both as core text as well as provide an adaptive environment for learning through the FlexBook Platform”. Most of the books have been approved in various US states.


An interesting kind of encylopedia/search engine. Type in an indexed term – people, places, things – and Qwiki will generate an information experience describing it. Aims to deliver information in a natural, more human way – via storytelling instead of search. Covers a wide variety of reference topics. Also has an iPad app – a key piece of their original vision. You can share and embed content. Launched Jan 2011; currently in alpha; has some big funding.

The home page has a News Summary and Top Stories. Type a term into the search box (eg New Zealand). Choose from the dropdown choices. The information will be read to you (female American voice – ok; a bit mechanical) while you are presented with images, videos, animations and the written text. Click an image to see more information & source. Related Qwikis are listed below the one you are watching.

Soon, any person will be able to create Qwikis and submit content to improve any Qwiki. The voice & text and other content makes this a very interesting tool – especially for students who might not want to read a lot of information. The images and video content make research interesting and more interactive. More info:


QR codes

10 November 2011

QR codes

QR (Quick Response) codes are everywhere now. They are another type of barcode and they are useful – they link you to extra information and save you from tediously typing URLs into your smartphone or iPod Touch. You can store the information and read it now or later. Smartphone users open their QR reader app and it scans the code and delivers the information to you. It might be a web link with lots of information, a YouTube video or just some text to read.


QR code generators

There are lots of free QR code generators. Teachers and students can make their own QR codes to use in lessons, tasks and presentations. QR codes can be placed on information posters, Glogsters, scientific models, on signs near artworks and photos, on book covers, points of interest…


The excellent URL shortener Bitly allows you to shorten, share, track and analyse your URL links. It also creates QR codes for these links. Copy the URL into the box on the home page and click “Shorten” . Underneath your shortened URL, click “Info page”. You will see the QR code that has been generated for this shortened URL. You will also see analytics for the URL eg. who has clicked on the link (countries) and when; how it was shared (Twitter etc).


Google has a URL shortener & QR code creator. Copy in the URL, click “Shorten” and then click “Details” to access the QR code (you have to be logged into your iGoogle account to get the QR code).


Copy in a URL, text, phone number or SMS and click “Generate”. Then you can save the code, embed it, print it, etc.

Quikqr  Email your QR code.


Officially launched in Sept 2011, it uses QR codes to deliver Wikipedia articles to users in their preferred language (usually the language on their phone). Used in various museums etc mainly in the US, UK and Spain. Paste a Wikipedia URL into the box to create a language-detecting QR code. Put the code wherever you want it to be read (eg. on an exhibit or poster). People can use the QR reader app on their smartphones to scan the code and be directed to the Wikipedia article.

37 examples of using QR codes (fun)

QR codes – solutions for maths problems

Primary students use QR codes to get to websites easily….cute!

QR code Info from Chris Smith (Shamblesguru)


World Population

1 November 2011…..1.11.11

7 billion people on Earth
The world’s population will hit 7 billion round about 4.48 am on 1 November 2011 in Australia. The 7 billionth person will most probably be born in India.
Worldometer live stats website:

Where do you fit into the 7 billion?
Type in your birthday, country & gender:

How many more?
Interesting short video:
UN Population Fund website with counter:

According to National Geographic, the “most typical” human face is a 28 year old Han Chinese male, and 9 million fit that description. By 2030 China will lose its top population status and the “most typical” human face will be Indian.

National Geographic has had a year long focus on population issues:

And even though there are 7 billion of us, we are all individuals 🙂

Books, films and TV

25 October 2010
Steve Jobs’ biography
The authorised biography written by Pulitzer Prize nominee Walter Isaacson was released 24 Oct. Seems to be an honest portrayal written after 40 interviews with Jobs and over 100 interviews with others. Some surprising facts here:

And the Jobs biopic?
Rights to the Steve Jobs biography have been sold to Sony. The film should be just as intriguing as The Social Network and may indeed be written by that film’s screenwriter Aaron Sorkin. Who will play Jobs??

First Australian newspaper to charge for digital content
The Australian will be the first general Aust. newspaper to launch subscriptions for digital content in 3 months time ($2.95 pw for online, iPad, mobile). It will follow the “freemium” model, with some content free but charging for premium content. Other daily papers will follow next year, though probably not the Fairfax news websites. Will readers want to pay for information they previously got for free?

The 7pm Project becomes The Project
The Channel 10 infotainment show that draws its content and comedy from recent news stories will be extended to one hour from 31 October. It will replace George Negus at 6.30 and run till 7.30 & is the top weeknight news service for 16-39 year olds. Hosted by Carrie Bickmore & Charlie Pickering, it’s informative and fun and the format appeals to high school students – useful for current affairs, popular culture, media & journalism. Our Media class were part of the audience a few months ago and loved it.

The bridge by Jane Higgins
Winner of the Text Prize for young adult and children’s writing 2010; has been described as the Tomorrow series meets Hunger Games. In post-apocalyptic 2199, the city is divided by the bridge. Cityside must be kept safe from the hostiles of Southside. Nik’s school is bombed by hostiles and he goes on the run with Fyffe, with the security corporation after them. When they cross the bridge they start to ask questions no one else will ask and find out how difficult it is to tell right from wrong, and fact from fiction and propaganda – especially in the face of war.

Thriller directed by Steven Soderbergh. Stars Kate Winslet & Matt Damon. A deadly disease breaks out and an international team of doctors is contracted to deal with the outbreak. The film portrays a very realistic public health & scientific response to a pandemic & examines personal motives, professional conduct, crowd psychology, loss of social order and the benefits of collaboration. 4 stars from Margaret and 4 and a half from David!

Frozen planet
The new David Attenborough 7 part series examines the Arctic & Antarctic ecosystems; the final episode looks at the threat of global warming and its devastating effects. Begins 30 Sept WIN TV.

To be or not to be
Anonymous opens 3 Nov, directed by Roland Emmerich; starring Vanessa Redgrave as Elizabeth I and Rafe Spall as Shakespeare. Was Shakespeare an illiterate fraud? The citizens of Stratford-upon-Avon are protesting!

YouTube, Google Search, TV

15 September 2011
YouTube Creative Commons
YouTube allows users to mark their videos with a Creative Commons CC BY license [attribution – reuse allowed]. These videos are then accessible to other YouTube users for use in their own videos via the YouTube Video Editor The goal is to make it easy for users to identify videos they can share, edit & remix, as long as they attribute the source of the original clip. YouTube is teaming up with other organisations to create a library of 10 000 CC videos for others to experiment with.
Google’s official YouTube channel
Some cool & useful stuff here. Includes videos about Google+ project; Talks at Google (guest speakers); 15 second search tip series. Many useful videos have been uploaded by Google users. And if you missed out on the awesome Freddie Mercury Google Doodle to celebrate his 65th birthday on 2 Sept, it’s here: .…Don’t stop me now.…
The electric guitar pioneer Les Paul playable guitar Google Doodle of 2 June had 740 million visitors & possibly $268 million in lost productivity! It now has a permanent home here:

Google Search Education Evangelism
Aimed at high school to adults. Includes basic and master lesson plans and Powerpoints for teaching search. All lessons are under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike license so you can change & adapt them. Also has access to webinars.

SBS On Demand
This month SBS launched their On Demand free video service – full episodes, feature length films, clips & live streaming. It has over 90% of their current prime time content as well as previously screened titles. Some have expiry dates for watching them. You can set up an account and make a favourites playlist, subscribe to a series, receive notifications about new videos, videos about to expire etc.

New national free-to-air indigenous TV channel
Last week the federal government announced a proposal for this new channel. SBS and the National Indigenous TV network (NITV) will work together to launch this channel, dedicated to Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander content. Up till now, NITV has been confined to pay TV, making it unavailable to most remote viewers. Senator Conroy said the new channel’s aim would be to increase the amount & quality of original indigenous content on free-to-air TV.

The hamster wheel: the return of The Chaser
The comedy team will return later this year on ABC1 in a satirical news analysis show. They will examine “the contemporary media landscape, where everyone from journalists to political fixers is perpetually at risk of spinning out of control”. The 8 x 30 min. episodes begin production this week.

The future is mobile
“40% of the world’s population will have access to the Internet by 2015, according to a new forecast released this week by market research firm IDC<>. But the way they access it is shifting drastically, particularly in the US, western Europe, and Japan, as media tablets and smartphones begin to take the place of the traditional PC…this will make the internet a very different place”. For schools…1-to-1 learning will skyrocket; teaching & learning for K-12 will fundamentally change due to mobile technologies.

Indigenous Literacy Day

7 September 2011
Indigenous Literacy Day
Many schools supported Indigenous Literacy Day on Wed 7 Sept by raising funds for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. Some participated in the Great Book Swap & others held other activities. The ILF provides books for remote indigenous communities; schools can hold fundraising events at any time. Over 70 000 books have been sent to over 260 communities during the past 2 years. The ILF also supports community identified literacy projects such as writing books in Alternative English Languages (AEL) & writing workshops are conducted with ambassadors such as Andy Griffiths. Some popular titles have been translated into indigenous languages (eg. Yanumarra parltjatjirratja mularrpa=The very hungry caterpillar). Book Buzz early childhood book packs are also distributed to toddlers & preschoolers, to introduce them to books & reading.
At Parliament House in Canberra, the Governor General Quentin Bryce spoke about the great work of the ILF, as did author Kate Grenville. There was some great singing, dancing, reading & music from visiting schools. Schools then presented symbolic books they had made that represented their fundraising efforts. It was a very enjoyable time!
Interesting info about literacy in remote indigenous communities and the variety of languages spoken:

Books, YouTube, Best websites 2011

24 August 2011
50 greatest books of all time?
This list was compiled by studying 43 other lists plus articles from critics, authors & experts. Links to the other lists as well (eg. Guardian, Globe, Man Booker, Harvard Book Store, Pulitzer…)

100 incredibly useful YouTube channels for teachers
This is a great list….a lot of US content but lots of amazing links eg. CitizenTube, United Nations, Witness (human rights), Periodic table of videos, Science magazine, Edutopia, Khan Academy, National Geographic…..

Time magazine’s 50 best websites 2011
An interesting list with some good links including:
Smarthistory: art history; many pictures; videos of experts talking about works; browse by artist, theme, medium.
Big Think: blogs & videos covering all topics about our world – arts, science, history, business etc. One post: “There is a 20% chance that we’re all part of an elaborate computer simulation from the future”.
Science Daily: Great info about new developments in all fields.
Khan Academy: The one-man university started by Salman Khan in 2006. Thousnads of free lessons aimed at students in highly visual 10 minute video chunks. Mainly maths & science, but other subjetcs also. He now has funding form Google & the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.,29569,2087815,00.html