Teen reading habits and 21st century skills

Some interesting reads from Teacher magazine and elsewhere…..

 

Teacher magazine

Excellent online ACER publication with interesting articles and quick reads – Evidence + Insight + Action.

https://www.teachermagazine.com.au/

 

Infographic: Teen reading habits

Early findings from a study by Deakin and Murdoch Universities, exploring the recreational reading habits of Australian teenagers. 70% read at least weekly for pleasure; 50% read for at least 15 minutes daily; 63% preferred paper books or disliked reading on digital devices; 12% preferred ebooks.

https://www.teachermagazine.com.au/article/infographic-teen-reading-habits

 

Global education: 21st century skills

Charles Fadel, 21st Century Skills pioneer, delivered the 2017 Australian Learning Lecture – The New Success on 11 May. Young people are likely to have 17 jobs over 5 different careers in their lifetime. Skills needed: broad and deep education, versatility, entrepreneurship, robotics, wellness, creativity, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, mindfulness, curiosity, courage, resilience, ethics, leadership, reflection, lifelong learning, growth mindsets. Fadel believes 4 dimensions of education are necessary: modernised knowledge, skills, character and meta learning. His 2015 book with Bernie Trilling: Four-dimensional education: the competencies learners need to succeed.

https://www.teachermagazine.com.au/article/global-education-21st-century-skills?utm_source=Campaign%20Monitor&utm_medium=bulletin&utm_content=May%2016%202017

 

Preparing young people for the future of work

Australia’s education system is not preparing students for twenty-first century success. Young Australians are studying for longer than ever before but are disengaged and struggling to find permanent jobs. Young people entering technology-rich, global, competitive job markets need different skill sets to what our education system has traditionally valued. Schools need to broaden learning objectives. The most crucial capabilities for the future include critical thinking, creativity, curiosity and communication skills. It is time Australia made changes to prioritise teaching, assessing and reporting capabilities” (Torii and O’Connell).

http://www.mitchellinstitute.org.au/reports/preparing-young-people-for-the-future-of-work/

 

Education Endowment  Foundation literature reviews

The EEF has conducted literature reviews on Digital Technology, Careers education, Literacy at the transition, English as an Additional Language, Education and neuroscience, Arts education, and Non-cognitive skills.

https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/resources/publications/

 

Evidence for Learning

This independent Australian site helps to build, share and use evidence to improve learning in all schools. Find out about new Australian education approaches and  Australian and global evidence summaries of 34 education approaches. Sign up for the newsletter.

http://evidenceforlearning.org.au/

 

Spaced Learning

Evidence from neuroscience and psychology suggests information is more easily learnt and recalled when it is repeated multiple times and separated by periods of unrelated activity. Neuroscience literature supports the use of shorter spaces between learning (around 10 minutes) and cognitive psychology literature supports longer spaces (around 24 hours). The study found that the most effective approach to spaced learning combined both 24 hour and 10 minute spacing between curriculum content.

https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/our-work/projects/spaced-learning/

 

Switched off students

Student disengagement is a major hidden issue – 40% of Australian students are regularly unproductive, bored and struggling to keep up with their peers. More students are fiddling with their phones, making snide comments and turning up late than are swearing at teachers or threatening classmates. Reasons include boredom, work too hard or not challenging enough, poor quality teaching and problems at home. An education system overhaul is required to deal with this. Recommendations include higher expectations for students; stronger teacher-student relationships based on mutual respect; encouraging active learning; encouragement; praise and not using ‘old-fashioned discipline’.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/feb/05/almost-half-of-australian-school-students-bored-or-struggling-says-grattan-institute

Free ebook and audiobook websites

Here are some good free ebook /narrated ebook websites with titles that would be of interest to high school  new English learners with a low reading age (below ESL).

Best sites to read books online without download or registration

Mega-list of 346 legal and ‘safe’ sites last updated May 2015.

http://www.techsupportalert.com/free-books-read-online

 

Awesome Stories

82 collections of 4506 stories with primary sources ‐ all subjects for learners of all ages. An American site but with a good variety of interesting topics. Subjects include language arts, social studies, STEM, arts, film and books. Also has a free option.

https://www.awesomestories.com/

Price: https://www.awesomestories.com/Signup

 

Tumble Book Library

This popular site is often available via public libraries (with logins). It is available via Libraries ACT. Titles include non fiction, graphic novels, ebooks, readalongs, story books and short videos. Many titles are for younger readers but various titles are suitable for EALD students, even those in high school. You can also choose reading levels eg. advanced readers, chapter books etc and make playlists. Any number of students can read the same book at the same time. Books are in English, Spanish and French.

http://preview.tumblebooks.com/BooksList.aspx?categoryID=13

 

International Children’s Digital Library

Acclaimed site for reading books in many different languages. Age ranges 3 to 5, 6 to 9, 10 to 13. Short, medium and long books including true books, award winning books, chapter books etc

http://en.childrenslibrary.org/

Browse titles:

http://www.childrenslibrary.org/icdl/SimpleSearchCategoryids=86&langid=&pnum=1&cnum=1&text=&lang=English&ilang=English

 

Free ebooks

Links to free online book sites from the Uni of Qld: http://guides.library.uq.edu.au/cyberschool-students/schools/free_ebooks

Lots of sites: http://www.freebooknotes.com/free-ebooks-guide/

 

Loyal Books

(Formerly Books Should Be Free). Free public domain audiobooks and ebooks. Many are older public domain titles so the language could be difficult eg. Tom Sawyer. Various languages – Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog…

http://www.loyalbooks.com/genre/Children

 

Some replies……

 

Ziptales is a subscription site, but has ESL material. – Marie Miegel

 

EPIC is a great website. “The only kids’ eBook subscription service that offers thousands of high-quality books from well known publishers like HarperCollins, National Geographic and others”. It is for K-5 but there are lots of great titles that could be of interest to middle school/ESL students including the popular ones like Big Nate, Warrior Cats, Timmy Failure etc. It is free for educators.

https://www.getepic.com/

Kerry Gittens

ICT and book news

Laptops a scandalous waste of money?

Sydney Grammar School has banned students from bringing laptops to school. Principal John Vallance stated “We find that having laptops or iPads in the classroom inhibit conversation — it’s distracting”. He believes in the benefits of a good teacher and a motivating group of classmates. Students will still have access to computers in labs and can use laptops for homework. Students must handwrite assignments until Year 10.

http://www.crn.com.au/News/417477,sydney-school-bans-laptops-labels-them-scandalous-waste-of-money.aspx#ixzz44XjzXPSb

 

Minecraft: the video game that builds kids’ brain cells

With 100 million users, Minecraft helps kids learn in an open-ended, game-based environment – programming, science, maths, architecture, engineering, art, languages and history. It fosters skills of creativity, curiosity, exploration and teamwork. Common Sense Media gives Minecraft a top “learning” score. WesterosCraft, built by hundreds of contributors over 3 years, could be the most elaborate Minecraft mod so far, recreating the Game of Thrones realm. The future? Microsoft’s HoloLens augmented reality headset can overlay Minecraft blocks in real-world surroundings.

Good article with videos: http://www.cnet.com/special-reports/minecraft/mindcraft-helping-students-learn

 

Cognitive computing and IBM’s supercomputer Watson

Last year IBM made 19 of Watson’s cognitive services available to the public, including natural language processing. The first Australian Watson Client Experience Centre was opened in Melbourne in October 2015. Australian firm MediaConnect is now using Watson to analyse the writing interests of Australian journalists by entering up to 50 000 stories a day from online news sources into the supercomputer. Watson then analyses the data and presents a taxonomy of journalists and the topics that interest them. This will help automate the delivery of media releases to journalists – bots will select information to be sent to each journalist based on their interests.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/life/personal-technology/mediaconnect-tech-conference-nbn-stem-and-watts-what/news-story/583436bba2a6822eb7f3f0e6f38aaddd

https://developer.ibm.com/watson/

 

Google and Facebook – should they pay old media for content?

Google and Facebook have made fortunes from advertising by not paying for content, accelerating the decline of old media, who cannot make enough money from advertising and sales to be profitable. Google and Facebook will make $4 to $5 billion from ads this year in Australia (35-40% of the total pool of ad revenue). Even popular digital publishers such as Buzzfeed and Daily Mail Online are concerned about how to raise enough revenue. The European Union is examining whether services such as Google News should pay to display article snippets. Why should newspaper publishers have to provide content for free?

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/media/opinion/google-facebook-need-to-pay-old-media-for-content/news-story/1c39a0dac14b816a4b5c5ef88ca8340d

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/media/digital/google-news-rejects-paying-publishers-for-content/news-story/68c6cfd511b265f65eff494416e0d95f

 

Music streaming tops revenue charts in US

For the first time, streaming is the top money-maker for the recorded music business in the US. Paid subscriptions to streaming services (eg. Spotify) narrowly beat revenue from digital downloads (eg.iTunes). CD sales and digital download revenue decreased. Sales of vinyl increased by nearly a third, reaching 1988 levels before CDs emerged. Japan and Germany (world’s 2nd and 3rd largest music markets) are CD strongholds. Spotify has 30 million paying subscribers across 58 countries.

http://www.businessspectator.com.au/news/2016/3/23/technology/streaming-tops-revenue-charts

 

Google Android most popular

Google’s Android operating system was used by roughly 54 percent of mobile devices sold in Australia in December, placing it ahead of Apple iOS at 38 percent. Rumours also persist that Google will merge Chrome and Android operating systems in 2017.
http://www.crn.com.au/News/414388,bonza-google-adds-aussie-twang-to-voice-search.aspx

http://www.crn.com.au/News/411273,google-to-merge-chrome-and-android-say-reports.aspx

 

The Book Depository now in Australia

Amazon’s The Book Depository is entering the Australian market. 25 000 Australian titles will be added and delivery time will reduce to a few hours, via a delivery partner in Melbourne.  However, Tony Nash, CEO of Aust’s biggest online book retailer Booktopia, is not fazed and expects Booktopia sales to rise from $52 million a year ago to $80 million in 2016 after the acquisition of Bookworld in 2015. Australian online book sales have risen 15.5% a year. The number of print book sales is rising; ebooks have 20% of the market.

http://www.smh.com.au/business/retail/amazon-steps-up-australian-book-sales-through-the-book-depository-20160201-gmitij.html

http://www.smh.com.au/business/retail/amazons-book-depository-stocking-up-on-australian-books-20160202-gmjlfl.html

 

Thriving societies produce great books: can Australia keep up?

What is Australia doing to protect its publishing industry? Should we allow parallel imports? Will cheaper books increase the amount of reading?

http://theconversation.com/friday-essay-thriving-societies-produce-great-books-can-australia-keep-up-54473

National Library now collecting everything

National Library makes digital history

On 17 Feb Thomas Keneally’s latest novel Napoleon’s last island became the first ebook to be collected by the NLA under Australia’s new legal deposit legislation. The novel tells the story of Napoleon’s exile on St Helena through the eyes of 13 year old Betsy.

New amendments to the Copyright Act allow the NLA to collect everything – ebooks, blogs, websites, social media etc The digital record will be protected in the same way as print. Publishers and authors can now upload ebooks, journals, magazines and newsletters through the NLA’s website. The collection of digital publications will be available later this year.

https://www.nla.gov.au/media-releases/2016/02/17/nla-make-digital-history-today

https://www.nla.gov.au/media-releases/2015/07/02/library-captures-the-internet

 

National Library Digital Classroom

Important cultural items from the Treasures Gallery are brought into the classroom, with teacher resources aligned to the Australian Curriculum. Through an inquiry approach, students analyse sources, develop historical skills and draw their own conclusions. Currently resources are available for Years 3 to 6 – more will be added. Resources include: Edward Koiki Mabo, First peoples, Communication, Designing the Sydney Opera House, A national identity.

https://www.nla.gov.au/digital-classroom

 

Station 11, Wolf by wolf and other good books

 

Good books abound…..

 

Station 11

What a great book by Emily St John Mandel – dystopian but different – winner of the 2015 Arthur C. Clarke Award and listed on many ‘best book’ lists. The novel follows the players in the Travelling Symphony, as they perform music and Shakespeare’s works in a world devastated by a flu virus, with few survivors. Their motto: “Survival is insufficient”. This haunting and compelling novel makes you appreciate what we have in our society and how beauty and art are vital for human existence. The backstories of the characters are intriguing and add to the emotional depth of this novel as their lives intertwine and play out.

 

“Visually stunning, dreamily atmospheric and impressively gripping….Station 11 is not so much about apocalypse as about memory and loss, nostalgia and yearning; the effort of art to deepen our fleeting impressions of the world and bolster our solitude.” – Guardian.

“Mandel’s message is that civilisation – and just as importantly, art – will endure as long as there is life. She tells us that when humanity’s back is against the wall, decency will emerge.” Independent.

“At once terrible and tender, dark and hopeful, Station Eleven is a tragically beautiful novel that both mourns and mocks the things we cherish.” –Neal Thompson.

 

Loved it – and fascinating to follow the development of the graphic novel “Station 11” within the novel. A film adaptation is in development. Recommended for Year 10 onwards.

http://www.emilymandel.com/stationeleven.html

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20170404-station-eleven

http://www.wordandfilm.com/2014/09/station-eleven-entertainment-time-crisis/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mary-pauline-lowry/you-should-read-station-e_b_5686596.html?ir=Australia

 

Wolf by wolf

YA novel by Ryan Graudin (female author). The novel has been compared to The book thief as well as The Hunger Games and is based on the premise: What if Germany had won World War 2? Set in an alternate Germany of 1956, it is the story of a young woman on a dangerous mission to kill Hitler. Experimented on at Auschwitz, Yael can now change her appearance at will – although she always leaves the 5 wolves tattooed on her arm to remind her of lost loved ones. Using her abilities, she transforms into Adele Wolfe, a famous long-distance motorbike rider.

Themes include history, love, loss, courage, heroism, hope, race, identity, community, human monstrosity and vengeance.

‘Ryan Graudin opens one of the darkest chapters in history and spins a what if
into an incredible tale of survival, identity, and purpose.’ – Victoria Schwab.

http://bit.ly/1MBJnmc

 

Amazon opens real bookstore

Amazon’s first brick-and-mortar bookstore has recently opened in Seattle (Amazon’s hometown). The store “integrates the benefits of offline and online book shopping.” (Offline indeed – what a term!). Amazon will use real people and also data from its website to decide which books to stock eg. customer ratings, sales, Goodreads ratings. All books will be presented face out with a sign for each with its Amazon rating and a customer review. The store will also sell Kindles. Amazon commands a market share of 30% of books sold in the US, however, the largest US chain, Barnes and Noble, has reported recent increases in core book sales. In 2015, ebook sales have fallen dramatically in the US. There are now more bookstores and some publishers are expanding their warehouses.

http://fortune.com/2015/11/03/amazon-bookstore/

http://fortune.com/2015/09/23/e-books-digital-publishing/

 

What would Mark Zuckerberg read?

This year the Facebook CEO decided he would read a book every 2 weeks……hmm maybe he’s not as addicted to Facebook as we thought he was 🙂 He believes that “books allow you to fully explore a topic and immerse yourself in a deeper way than most media today. I’m looking forward to shifting more of my media diet towards reading books.” He started A Year of Books book club in Facebook, where he discusses the books with other Facebookers. His selections focused on different cultures, beliefs, histories and technologies. The 20 books include: The three-body problem – by Cixin Liu (Chinese sci-fi novel– winner of the 2015 Hugo Award); The Muqaddimah – by Ibn Khaldun (Islamic history of the world from 1377); Sapiens – by Yuval Harari (history of humankind); The better angels of our nature – by Steven Pinker (why violence has declined).

http://www.businessinsider.com.au/mark-zuckerberg-book-recommendations-2015-10?r=US&IR=T#/#why-nations-fail-by-daren-acemolu-and-james-robinson-1

https://www.facebook.com/ayearofbooks/

 

Yes Zuckerberg is super rich but Bill Gates is still the richest person in the world ($84.7billion). Mark is number 16 ($47 billion), with Google guys Brin and Page at 17 and 18. Philanthropy is a high priority with Gates (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) and also Zuckerberg. In 2014, Zuckerberg and wife Dr Priscilla Chan made a $120 million donation to improve education in the San Francisco Bay area, particularly for low-income students. In 2010 he donated $100 million to schools in Newark.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3325404/Mark-Zuckerberg-s-fortune-climbs-nearly-50bn-Facebook-founder-tops-list-richest-entrepreneurs-40-four-times-richer-nearest-challenger.html#ixzz3sTlFQGJ7

Victor Frankenstein

Science fiction horror film. Directed by Paul McGuigan. Stars James McEvoy as Victor Frankenstein and Daniel Radcliffe as his assistant Igor Strausman. The story is told from Igor’s perspective and shows his dark origins and his redemptive friendship with medical student Victor von Frankenstein. Working together on experiments to resurrect the dead, Igor witnesses Frankenstein’s journey to legendary status. Rated PG. Opens March 2016.

http://wegotthiscovered.com/movies/exclusive-interview-daniel-radcliffe-taks-busting-igors-hump-victor-frankenstein/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1976009/

http://www.slashfilm.com/daniel-radcliffe-victor-frankenstein-interview/

ebooks, printed books and libraries

Print books outsold ebooks in first half of 2014 in the US

Nielsen Books and Consumer survey – paperbacks 42% of sales; hardcovers 25%; ebooks 23%. Will paper books and ebooks coexist peacefully in the future? “A healthy, diverse marketplace with multiple format, price point, and channel choices for the consumer is generally a positive for readers, authors, and publishers overall” (Steinberger; Perseus Books). Stephen King: print books have a bright future – “books are going to be here for a long, long time”.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/06/ebooks-print-books-outsold_n_5940654.html

 

Yes we still love print!

The 2 second-hand bookfairs held by Lifeline in the ACT during 2014 were the most successful ever (and the biggest in Australia). It’s a great way for the community to recycle their books and support a great cause!

 

Nieuwe Bibliotheek (New Library) in Almere, Netherlands

Faced with declining visitors, traditional methods of library organisation were discarded in 2010 and a retail model was followed. Books are now grouped by area of interest with fiction and non fiction combined and many face-out displays. The library is a Seats2meet (S2M) location where people connect with each other in exchange for a free workspace. It also has a gaming facility, a reading garden and a large events program. And of course it has a café! It is now considered one of the most innovative libraries in the world and is the most successful cultural organisation in Almere – showing that “a physical public library has a right to exist in the future and will not disappear by increasing digitization and the internet” (Roy Paes).

http://www.shareable.net/blog/how-a-new-dutch-library-smashed-attendance-records

 

Ebook readers on the way out

Forrester Research World eReader Adoption Forecast 2014-2019 predicts the death of the eReader as its functions are absorbed by other devices such as smartphones and tablets. Global sales peaked in 2011 but will decline steadily through 2019. Why carry another device? Ebook spending will continue to grow. Kindles have great battery life, but even Amazon will invest in newer devices like wearables, 3D printers and drones.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/technology/ereaders-wearables-endangered-species/story-e6frgakx-1226976266208?nk=26a8c2b5d63817978c49aef08dca9819

http://bit.ly/1zqOkto

 

Kindle Unlimited

Amazon has launched its Kindle Unlimited ebook & audiobook subscription service, following its US debut in July. It will have an emphasis on bestsellers with unlimited access to more than 650 000 ebooks and 2000 audiobooks for eight pounds per month. Authors will be paid each time someone reads more than 10% of one of their books (roughly $2 per unit). http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/sep/24/amazon-kindle-unlimited-ebooks-uk

 

“The fate of our literary culture is sealed” – Will Self

Deep, serious reading and writing is under threat from the digital revolution – it is clear, however, that digital media and the web will lead to new forms of learning, memory, understanding and even consciousness. The majority of the text currently read in the technologically advanced world is already digitised – the book is in “desperate, riffling retreat” and half of today’s revenue from British book sales goes to Amazon. We no longer have to rely on our memories to analyse or find new information – we have outsourced our mental operations to algorithms owned by money-making companies such as Google et al.

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/oct/03/fate-literary-culture-sealed-internet-will-self

Indie Book Awards

Interesting to see the winners announced on 26 March, chosen by the independent booksellers of Australia (200 shops nationally)…

Indie Book Awards

The narrow road to the deep north by Richard Flanagan was voted as the booksellers’ favourite Australian book from last year and the winner of The Indie Book of the Year Award 2014.    

Category winners:

FICTION AWARD:

The narrow road to the deep north by Richard Flanagan (Random House Australia)

NON-FICTION AWARD:

Girt by David Hunt (Black Inc)

DEBUT FICTION AWARD:

Burial rites by Hannah Kent (Pan Macmillan Australia)

CHILDREN’S AWARD:

Kissed by the moon by Alison Lester (Penguin Australia)

http://www.indies.com.au/IndieAward.aspx

 

Current Indie Top 10 bestsellers include Burial rites, The fault in our stars, The blazing world, I quit sugar for life (!), The Rosie project, Beams falling….

http://www.indies.com.au/Default.aspx

 

Interesting/cute article in the Sunday paper last week (does anyone buy them anymore?) – iPad dad who won’t let his (2 and a half year old) son read books…and the mum who smuggles them in:

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/the-ipad-dad-who-wont-let-son-read-books/story-fni0cx4q-1226868554082

The article included a comment by Sophie Higgins from Dymocks, who said the market for children’s books has felt no impact from tablets like the iPad. “Sales of children’s books last Christmas were up 11.4% in value, that’s huge growth, and that growth was consistent all year.”

Other interesting info in the article: 376 public libraries in NSW; 3.2 million members and 35 million visits in 2012. Yay for libraries!

 

 

ICT and popular culture news

Tis the season for lists!

Top 100 Tools for Learning 2013

Always interesting to see the results of the survey by Jane Hart’s Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies (C4LPT) – as voted by 500+ learning professionals from 48 countries. 1. Twitter 2. Google Drive/Docs 3. YouTube 4. Google Search 5. PowerPoint 6. Evernote 7. Dropbox 8. WordPress 9. Facebook 10. Google + Twitter retained #1 for the 5th year running. Pinterest jumped 14 places to #22. Coursera (MOOC platform) was a new addition at #38. http://c4lpt.co.uk/top100tools/ Analysis: http://c4lpt.co.uk/top100tools/analysis-2013/

Yahoo Year in Review 2013

Interesting videos and images from around the world: http://news.yahoo.com/year-in-review/

Top US searches: Miley Cyrus #1; computer game Minecraft was #4 (high also in Aust). Part exploratory adventure, part creative building tool, highly valued by gamers, teachers, architecture students…watch the YouTube documentary (1 hr 40m) about its development, founder Markus “Notch” Persson and its unorthodox success.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySRgVo1X_18

Facebook trends 2013

Most talked about topics worldwide: 1. Pope Francis 2. Election 3. Royal baby 4. Typhoon 5. Margaret Thatcher 6. Harlem Shake 7. Miley Cyrus 8. Boston Marathon 9. Tour de France 10. Nelson Mandela Short video: http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/12/09/here-are-facebooks-most-talked-about-topics-for-2013/

For Australia – 9 million daily users: 1. Vote 2. Princess Kate 3. Cricket 4. Kevin Rudd 5. Grand Final 6. Election 7. GST  8. Lions 9. Tony Abbott 10. Big Brother. The most checked in location was the MCG. http://au.ibtimes.com/articles/528860/20131210/facebook-trends-2013-australia-topics.htm

Top Bing searches in Aust. 2013

Various categories – from quinoa to Miranda Kerr to royal baby to Sydney Swans… http://news.ninemsn.com.au/technology/2013/12/02/18/46/kerr-tops-most-binged-2013-list

Top 10 ads viewed on YouTube in Aust. http://www.adnews.com.au/adnews/australia-s-most-popular-youtube-ads-in-2013

One minute on the internet today compared to 2012

The interwebs just keeps on getting bigger….75% increase in Google searches; 42% increase in Amazon revenue; 233% growth in YouTube video hours; 250% increase in Twitter tweets.

http://qz.com/150861/a-snapshot-of-one-minute-on-the-internet-today-and-in-2012/#150861/a-snapshot-of-one-minute-on-the-internet-today-and-in-2012/

National Geographic shares maps via Google Maps Engine

Google Maps Engine is a public data program that lets organisations distribute maps to consumers via Google. National Geographic is now sharing 500 of their maps via the program for free. They will overlay the maps with interactive features such as articles and photos about environmental issues, expeditions and historic events.

http://google-latlong.blogspot.ca/2013/12/national-geographic-shares-rich-map_6.html

Drones

Look – up in the sky! It’s your unmanned pizza delivery! The coming drone invasion will deliver everything from pizzas to Amazon products. In the US, Amazon aims for their drones to deliver within a 10 mile range and 30 minute time frame whilst the DomiCopter will deliver 2 Domino’s pizzas. The widespread use of drones has been approved by Congress, starting in 2015. There are of course, many associated privacy and surveillance issues. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-w-whitehead/amazon-dominos-and-big-br_b_4373867.html?ir=Technology

In Australia, a drone was (illegally) used during the NSW bushfires in October but may be used legally in the future. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/technology/drones-ready-to-fight-fires-if-allowed/story-e6frgakx-1226748464574

A textbook rental company will make deliveries by drone to customers in Sydney CBD, starting March 2014 – the first commercial use of drones in the world. The textbooks will be lowered on a cable to the customer. Short video: http://www.cnet.com.au/australian-textbook-delivery-care-of-drones-339345677.htm

“OK Google” voice search on Chrome web browser (desktop)

No need to type your search query. No need for a microphone either (currently needed in Chrome). Download the Google Voice Search Hotword plugin and say “OK Google, what is an ocelot?”. It will read out most answers. It can be used for searches, translations, reminders, setting calendar events and getting directions. The service is in beta and currently works only with google.com (not .au), but can still be downloaded in Australia. http://www.cnet.com.au/google-introduces-ok-google-voice-search-on-chrome-for-desktop-339346074.htm

Google barges

The 3 mystery barges being built in San Francisco by Google may be “interactive spaces where people learn about new technology”….or they might just be floating retail stores. They will eventually be docked in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York and will be “curious and visually stunning” exhibition centres with fish fin sails. Gotta beat those cool Apple stores somehow… http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/google-barge/

TED Books

TED Books are interesting short non fiction electronic books, produced once a month by TED Conferences. The books are less than 20 000 words – “long enough to unleash a powerful narrative, but short enough to be read in a single sitting.” Most can be read in less than an hour and are available for Kindle, Nook, iBooks. Price: $1.99 each. The TED Books app is free for the iPad and has audio, video and social features embedded into each book. For a yearly subscription of $14.99, you have access to the entire TED Books archive. http://www.ted.com/pages/tedbooks

 

ebooks at the National Library

Some info about finding ebooks available freely online through the National Library….

The National Library has a wide range of ebooks. For most of these you will need an NLA library card (apply online). A search for ebooks in eResources shows resources such as Ebsco ebooks; OECD iLibrary; Oxford Reference; Early English Books Online and titles in Gale Virtual Reference Library.

http://www.nla.gov.au/app/eresources/search/ebooks/?rows=10&start=0&context=ebooks

Many titles are also accessible in the NLA catalogue.

Ebooks: a guide to finding ebooks at the NLA: http://www.nla.gov.au/research-guides/ebooks

When you do a NLA catalogue search and hit enter, look for the Narrow Search option on the far right of the screen and choose E-resources. Choose All Online to get resources with online links, such as ebooks. Click on a title and login with your NLA library card. You can also find books digitised by the NLA in the catalogue by adding the delimiter “NLA digitised material” to your initial search. The catalogue also has links to titles that can be found in Google Books – what an excellent resource this is for accessing full text chapters of books to read online.

 

Currently there are 897 non fiction Ebsco ebooks in the NLA catalogue (search for ebscohost to see the complete list). Ebsco ebooks can be downloaded to your device and accessed for 5 days. Only one person at a time can view the Ebsco ebook. http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Search/Home?lookfor=ebscohost&type=all&limit%5b%5d=&submit=Find&filter%5b%5d=format:%22Book%22

Guide to using Ebsco ebooks: http://www.nla.gov.au/research-guides/ebooks/ebsco-ebooks