ICT news

Ok it had to happen…your bot shopping experience is here! The Kmart Buddy bot will help you with suggestions this Xmas. Search for Buddy in Facebook Messenger. Specify what you want and Buddy presents web pages where you can buy the goods online.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/technology/kmart-buddy-bot-can-it-do-your-christmas-shopping/news-story/9f0b135b5def79e6e6880b39b54dc53f

 

Digital Inclusion Index Report

Produced by Swinburne University of Technology and Telstra in August. The Australian Digital Inclusion Index measures the extent of digital inclusion in Australia – access, affordability and digital ability. No surprise – Australians are spending more time and doing more online. The highest-scoring state is ACT, followed by Victoria. Groups with high digital inclusion include those who speak other languages. Those with low levels of income, education and employment are less included. Indigenous Australians and people with disability have low but improving inclusion. The gender gap is narrow but there is a marked difference in attitudes towards learning new technology. Geography also plays a critical role – inclusion is higher in capital cities than country areas. Access and affordability can be barriers but a person’s digital ability (attitudes, skills, activities, safety concerns) also has a large impact. The Index will help inform and promote policy and programs to enhance digital inclusion in Australia.

http://www.swinburne.edu.au/news/latest-news/2016/08/swinburne-study-measures-australias-digital-divide.php

http://digitalinclusionindex.org.au/

http://digitalinclusionindex.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Australian-Digital-Inclusion-Index-2016.pdf

 

Born Digital 2016

Born Digital 2016, the National and State Libraries Australasia conference in August, explored the collection and preservation of digital content via video interviews with experts. Topics included Science and space; Indigenous voices; Digital lifestyles; Video games.

http://www.nsla.org.au/born-digital-2016

Why it’s important to preserve video games: http://www.nsla.org.au/news/borndigital2016-day-5-play

Truth and history with John Birmingham – libraries need to preserve digital content such as Facebook, blogs and tweets: http://www.nsla.org.au/news/borndigital2016-day-3-truth-and-history

 

The NBN GranTechie Report: the new wave of silver surfers

This Sept 2016 report shows that access to fast broadband, NBN and smart devices is redefining how older Australians are using the internet and debunks myths that they are not using technology to connect and learn. 72% of grandparents say the internet makes them feel more educated, more purposeful (66%) and more connected (85%). 93% go online every day; 79% use technology to stay connected with family and friends; 59% use the internet for online shopping; 72% couldn’t imagine life without the internet. And 49% of 18-34 year olds believe older generations are just as savvy as them when it comes to technology and the internet. Go Nan and Pop!

http://www.nbnco.com.au/content/dam/nbnco2/documents/The%20nbn%E2%84%A2%20GranTechies%20Report.pdf

https://startsat60.com/stories/tech/grantechies-rise-of-the-silver-surfer

Good books and reviews: https://startsat60.com/category/stories/entertain/books

 

Google Expeditions adds 50 new tours for schools

There are now over 400 virtual reality field trips, with over 100 lesson plans also available. Places include Machu Picchu, Antarctica, coral reefs, the International Space Station and a Viking settlement. Expeditions has been used by over 1 million students and is the app is available in 123 countries. Google Cardboard VR sets make the experience more immersive, but are not essential. Android and iOS.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/technology/peter-cosgrove-launches-google-tour-of-government-house/news-story/560b2534672c74be7174c170ae587fb0

https://blog.google/topics/education/adding-50-new-tours-schools-google-expeditions/

https://support.google.com/edu/expeditions/answer/6335093?hl=en&ref_topic=6334250

 

Google Earth Timelapse

Google has updated Timelapse, their comprehensive picture of the Earth’s changing surface. First released 2013, it now includes 4 additional years of imagery, petabytes of new data from satellites, and a sharper view of the Earth from 1984 to 2016. Watch the sprouting of Dubai’s artificial Palm Islands, the retreat of Alaska’s Columbia Glacier, glaciers in Antarctica and a river in Tibet.

https://blog.google/products/earth/our-most-detailed-view-earth-across-space-and-time/

View Timelapse: https://earthengine.google.com/timelapse/

 

Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy Verbs

This infographic lists verbs used to facilitate technology in the classroom, from lower-order thinking skills (LOTS) to higher-order thinking skills (HOTS).

https://globaldigitalcitizen.org/blooms-digital-taxonomy-verbs

Bloom’s taxonomy and apps for the iPad: http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2016/06/new-visual-on-blooms-digital-taxonomy.html

More Bloom’s and apps: http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2016/11/new-blooms-digital-taxonomy-poster-for.html

 

Netflix shows can now be downloaded and watched offline

Rolled out worldwide last week. Enjoy an offline binge on your smartphones and tablets. Update your Netfix app and choose the downward arrow icon when browsing. Free.

https://www.wired.com/2016/11/netflix-offline-viewing/

 

18 best external storage devices for iPad and iPhone

Very useful when your device is full of photos and videos. Includes Verbatim iStore ‘n’ Go (USB at one end and a Lightning port at the other) and SanDisk Connect Wireless USB flash drive (copies photos automatically straight onto the device).

http://www.macworld.co.uk/feature/iphone/best-ways-get-more-storage-for-your-iphone-or-ipad-external-devices-3579792/

Lexar JumpDrive (USB and Lightning connectors): http://www.lexar.com/products/usb-flash-drives/Lexar-JumpDrive-M20i-USB-3-flash-drive.html

 

ICT news

Mobile web browsing overtakes desktop browsing for the first time

Not really surprising – but now it’s official. Browsing on smartphones and tablets now accounts for 51.3% of worldwide web browsing (StatCounter). However, in Australia, desktop accounts for 55.1% of browsing; 58% in the US and 55.6% in the UK. This will only decrease. Mobile-friendly websites are now essential and Google recently made a change making mobile search potentially more up to date than desktop.

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/nov/02/mobile-web-browsing-desktop-smartphones-tablets

 

Google’s desktop search could be out of date

Google has now begun to push mobile search and desktop searches could end up slightly out of date compared to mobile searches. Google is splitting its search index into 2 versions – a rapidly updated mobile version and a separate search for the desktop.

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/oct/14/google-desktop-search-out-of-date-mobile

 

Nielsen Digital Landscape Report

Monthly summaries of Australian online behaviour. Latest report September.  19.8 million people actively surfing, with ages 50+ having the largest percentage online (30.27%). Top 10 brands: 1. Google 2. Facebook 3. YouTube 4. MSN/Bing/Skype 5. Apple 6. eBay 7. Microsoft 8. Yahoo7 9. Wikipedia 10. Instagram. Top brands for streaming: 1. YouTube 2. Facebook 3. Vevo 4. News.com.au (9.ABC).  Men outnumber women for streaming: 7.35 million men vs 6.34 million women.

file:///H:/Downloads/Digital%20Landscape%20September%202016.pdf

http://digitalmeasurement.nielsen.com/digitalmedialandscape/surfing_report.html

 

American Academy of Pediatrics lifts ‘No screens under 2’ rule

Last month the 1999 rule was lifted. The focus has shifted from what is on the screen to who else is in the room. For babies under 18 mths, no screens are best – except for live video chat. From 15 mths to 2 yrs, children may learn new words from educational media, but only if parents are watching alongside them. Treating videos or apps like a picture book is best. Preschoolers aged 2 to 5 have the ability to transfer knowledge from screens to the real world.

http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/10/21/498550475/american-academy-of-pediatrics-lifts-no-screens-under-2-rule

 

Hour of Code 5 December

ABC and Code Club Aust. have set a challenge for students to make their own video game using Scratch.

http://splash.abc.net.au/res/nl/20161118/STEM_news/STEM_news_20161118.html

60 min. tutorials for all ages: https://code.org/learn

 

Zuckerberg to invest $4bn in health

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his pediatrician wife Priscilla Chan will invest nearly $AU4 billion over the next 10 years to build technology that can speed up research on disease. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative LLC will initially create the Biohub research lab in San Francisco, which will create tools for researchers such as a cell atlas (a map of the different human cell types). Other tools could include a chip to diagnose disease and using machine learning to analyse large databases of cancer genomes. Zuckerberg and Chan have promised to give away 99% of their wealth over their lifetimes via their Initiative – one of the world’s largest philanthropic initiatives. They have also created Chan Zuckerberg Science.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/technology/zuckerberg-family-fund-to-invest-4bn-in-research-technology/news-story/6ac9a9c2235e1318e6e9abb568311240

 

Google Play Music

Music streaming, as with movie/TV streaming, is the most popular way of listening to music. Google Play Music is now smarter and easier to use. It uses machine learning and a diverse range of datasets connected to your Google account – search history, maps, YouTube etc – to personalise your music. It then mixes in signals like location, activity, and the weather along with hand-picked playlists to give you music that you like. Started last week in 62 countries for Android, iOS and the web. Workout music as you enter the gym; a sunset soundtrack at dusk….

https://blog.google/products/google-play/introducing-the-new-google-play-music/

 

Google self-driving car project

Monthly report Oct 2016. 24 Lexus SUVs on the road along with 34 prototype vehicles. Over 2.23 million miles  driven in autonomous mode and Google cars are experts at 3-point turns.

https://static.googleusercontent.com/media/www.google.com/en//selfdrivingcar/files/reports/report-1016.pdf

 

Failed Google projects

Google has been involved in a host of projects – not all of them successful. These projects may soon cease development: Project Wing (delivery drones); Verily smart lenses (measure diabetic glucose levels via eye tears); Google Glass (sales were stopped in 2015 and social media data erased). Autonomous cars may not be available till 2025.

http://tech.firstpost.com/news-analysis/with-so-many-failing-x-projects-its-time-for-google-to-get-back-to-basics-346227.html

 

Google to ban fake news sites from ads

Advertising tools will be closed to websites that promote fake news. Fake news easily goes viral.

http://www.theverge.com/2016/11/14/13630722/google-fake-news-advertising-ban-2016-us-election

Good films

Some good films coming up for various curriculum areas – fantasy, sci-fi, war, fiction to film…..

Jasper Jones

Upcoming mystery thriller film based on the acclaimed book by Craig Silvey and directed by Rachel Perkins. Stars Levi Miller, Aaron L. McGrath, Toni Collette and Hugo Weaving. A moving coming of age story about a young boy and his Aboriginal friend who find the body of a girl and deal with racism and other terrible secrets in their small town. Due 2 March 2017.

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/aug/25/jasper-jones-first-look-review-spielberg-meets-stranger-things-in-australian-coming-of-age-tale

Trailer: https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/entertainment/a/33013639/jasper-jones-teaser-trailer-out/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5091014/

 

Hacksaw Ridge

Biographical war film directed by Mel Gibson. Stars Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Hugo Weaving. Based on the true story of US Army medic Desmond Doss, a Seventh Day Adventist conscientious objector who refused to bear arms or kill, but was awarded the Medal of Honor for saving the lives of 75 comrades during the Battle of Okinawa in WW2. Filmed mostly in Australia, the film received a 10 minute standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival. Opens 3 Nov.

http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/movies/mel-gibson-movie-hacksaw-ridge-receives-standing-ovation-at-venice-film-festival-20160907-gral5t.html

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2119532/

 

Doctor Strange

Marvel superhero film starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Tilda Swinton. A neurosurgeon’s life changes after he loses use of his hands after a car accident. He finds hope in a mysterious enclave who are battling dark forces bent on destroying reality and, as a powerful sorcerer, uses martial arts and an ancient guru to save the world. See it if you fancy Benedict in a “velvety neo-Edwardian uniform with an occult medallion and fierce goatee.…like a glam rock vocalist who yearns to do a magic trick in Vegas”. (Bradshaw). In cinemas now.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1211837/

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/oct/24/doctor-strange-review-benedict-cumberbatch-marvel-eyepoppingly-freaky-extravaganza

 

The light between oceans

Based on the novel by M. L. Stedman. Directed by Derek Cianfrance. Stars Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander, Bryan Brown and Jack Thompson. A lighthouse keeper and his wife find a baby adrift in a boat and raise her as their own – only to face the consequences of their actions several years later. Filmed in New Zealand and Stanley, Tasmania. Opens 26 Dec.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/02/movies/the-light-between-oceans-review.html?_r=1

http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/movies/now-showing/five-hankie-film-review-for-australian-bestseller-the-light-between-oceans-20160903-gr7zg2.html

 

Red dog: True blue

Prequel exploring early events in the life of the legendary Red Dog. A young boy is sent to a cattle station in the Pilbara and finds a puppy in a flood. Stars Jason Isaacs, Levi Miller, Bryan Brown. Opens 26 Dec.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3567194/

http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/movies/red-dogs-story-continues-in-prequel-red-dog-true-blue-20160916-grhpaj.html

 

Rogue One: a Star Wars story

Directed by Gareth Edwards. Stars Felicity Jones, Ben Mendelsohn. A group of unlikely heroes band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star. Opens 15 Dec.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3748528/

https://www.theguardian.com/film/rogue-one-a-star-wars-story

http://www.theweek.co.uk/62924/star-wars-rogue-one-is-spin-off-film-an-origin-story-for-reys-mother

 

Passengers

Sci-fi thriller directed by Morten Tyldum. Stars Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt. A spacecraft transporting thousands of people to a distant planet colony has a malfunction in its sleep chambers and 2 passengers are awakened 90 years early. Opens 1 Jan 2017.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1355644/

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/sep/21/passengers-trailer-jennifer-lawrence-chris-pratt-titanic-avatar

 

His dark materials (Northern lights)

BBC series based on the award-winning fantasy trilogy by Philip Pullman – an amazing series. Set in a multiverse including Oxford, a young girl embarks on a quest to understand a mysterious phenomenon called Dust.  No cast as yet. Series 1 will have 8 episodes. Possible launch late 2017.

http://www.digitalspy.com/tv/cult/feature/a789641/his-dark-materials-bbc-tv-series-casting-characters-start-date-everything-you-need-to-know/

http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-35967042

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/His_Dark_Materials

 

Mary Poppins returns

Directed by Rob Marshall. Stars Emily Blunt as Mary, Colin Firth Meryl Streep (Mary’s cousin)  and Lin-Manuel Miranda as a new character, a lamplighter. Set 20 years after the original film in Depression-era London, Michael and Jane Banks are grown up and Mary returns to take care of Michael’s children. In the new film, Mary is based more on the character from the series of books. Due Dec 2018.

http://variety.com/2016/legit/news/lin-manuel-miranda-mary-poppins-little-mermaid-1201870663/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5028340/

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/mary-poppins-returns-julie-andrews-gives-her-verdict-on-emily-blunt-casting-a7216726.html

 

Big little lies

7 part HBO series starring Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley, based on the book by Liane Moriarty. The seemingly perfect lives of a group of suburban mums begin to unravel. The series is set in California, rather than Sydney’s northern beaches. Due Feb 2017.

http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/drama/nicole-kidman-and-reese-witherspoons-adaptation-of-aussie-bestseller-big-little-lies-gets-a-steamy-trailer-20161016-gs3ove.html

ICT and media news

RUOK? survey reveals Aussies spend more time with screens than quality time with family and friends

We spend an average of 46 hours of our weekly downtime looking at TVs and devices, compared to 6 hours engaging with family and friends. About half of all Australians spend 2 hours or less weekly connecting with those who matter to them. Obstacles include distance, being too tired, being busy, housework and long work hours. Finding time in busy schedules is crucial. Strong and caring connections provide a safety net to help people cope with challenging times.

https://www.ruok.org.au/new-survey-reveals-aussies-spend-more-time-with-screens-than-quality-time-with-family-and-friends

 

Deloitte Media Consumer Survey 2016

Their 5th edition- more than 2000 Australians aged 14 to 69 were surveyed. The survey provides a snapshot of how consumers are interacting with media, entertainment and technologies. Results include:

 

* Huge influence of social media – the #1 digital destination; 84% are on a social network

*61% use social media every day; 84% of younger millennials use it every day

*Most used social media sites: 1.  Facebook (92%) 2. Instagram (28%) 3. Twitter (24%) 4. (All equal) Snapchat, LinkedIn, Google+ (18%)

*18% use social media sites as their most frequently used source of news (14% online papers; 6% print newspapers); many younger people use social media as their primary source of news

*Word of mouth is still the main influence on purchase decisions, followed by recommendations on social media (which has surpassed the influence of TV advertising)

*TV viewing, on any device, is the most preferred entertainment activity (62% rate it in top 3)

*Using the internet for social or personal interests is almost as popular as TV (60% rate it in top 3)

*Millennials prefer using the internet as their top source of entertainment; watching TV is the most popular with other generations

*Live programming is the most used method for consuming TV (42% of viewing time)

*Watching streamed programming is increasing (22% pay for a subscription)

*Millennials lead the uptake of streaming services such as Netflix, Stan and Presto

*Almost everyone likes to binge-watch (74% millennials; 50% others)

* 88% multitask while watching TV

*66% own tablet devices

*86% of households own a smartphone and a laptop; 85% own a TV

*67% rank smartphones in their top 3 devices

*Social media apps are the most popular with millennials; banking apps are also popular with younger people; older people like weather apps!

*10% intend to buy a Virtual Reality headset next year

*21% own a fitness band and 11% own a smartwatch

*Millennials (age 14 to 32) lead the way in engaging with the digital media universe

 

Preferred entertainment activities of all respondents – including books!

  1. Watching TV (any device) 2. Using the internet 3. Listening to music (any device) 4. Going to the movies 5. Reading books 6. Playing video games 7. Attending live performances 8. Reading newspapers (print or online) 9. Listening to the radio (any device/format) 10. Reading magazines (print or online)

*Reading books (in any format) is rated by 25% of people as a top 3 entertainment activity

*Reading books (in any format) decreased in popularity by 8% compared to 2015, despite gains for the past 4 years.

*Reading books and playing video games are almost equal in popularity as a top 3 entertainment activity (25% for books; 24% for video games)

*Movie-going increased in popularity by 5% over the past year

*Aside from using the internet and watching TV, millennials also favour listening to music, going to the movies and playing video games

*Aside from watching TV and using the internet, boomers and matures also like reading newspapers and books

 

Good short video and infographic: http://www2.deloitte.com/au/en/pages/technology-media-and-telecommunications/articles/media-consumer-survey-2016.html

The report: http://bit.ly/2cV9Ml2

Summary: http://which-50.com/social-dominates-digital-reshapes-media-habits/

Happy Book Week!

Literature quizzes

25 fun bookish quizzes: http://bookriot.com/2013/04/10/25-fun-bookish-quizzes/

http://www.triviaplaza.com/literature-general-quizzes/

http://www.funtrivia.com/quizzes/literature/

Great opening lines: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/books/what-to-read/30-great-opening-lines-in-literature/

53 best opening sentences: https://www.buzzfeed.com/sarahgalo/it-was-a-queer-sultry-summer?utm_term=.drxY61B0Y#.ldmRaDLjR

100 best closing lines: http://www.stylist.co.uk/books/the-best-100-closing-lines-from-books

 

Better Reading

Australia’s largest annual celebration  of books and reading, encouraging everyone to pick up a book and read.

The first Top 100 list was launched in 2015:

http://www.betterreading.com.au/book_list/better-reading-presents-australias-top-100-books/

Vote for your favourite book in 2016  and go in the draw to win Australia’s top 100 books. Entries close 31 Aug; top 100 announced 9 Sept. Titles can be fiction or non fiction from around the world.

Top 50 kids’ books: http://www.betterreading.com.au/book_list/better-reading-presents-australias-top-50-kids-books/

 

Dymocks Top 101 2016

  1. The book thief 2. To kill a mockingbird 3. Pride and prejudice

https://www.dymocks.com.au/top-101?gclid=CP2-s6XO3M4CFQwnvQodv8gNiA

 

Miles Franklin Award announced 26 Aug

Australia’s most prestigious literary prize is awarded to “a novel which is of the highest literary merit and presents Australian life in any of its phases”.

http://theconversation.cmail2.com/t/ViewEmail/r/8D3A20714D85AF372540EF23F30FEDED/E047E5910EF91B07D8E2A916412CAE5B

Book lists and awards

Literary awards around the world – there are lots!: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_literary_awards

Reading suggestions and awards: http://www.betterreading.com.au/book_list/

 

Goodreads

The world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations (owned by Amazon). Lists, quizzes, trivia, quotes…

https://www.goodreads.com/

Goodreads Choice Awards: https://www.goodreads.com/choiceawards/best-books-2015

 

New York Times Bestsellers

Truly madly deeply by Liane Moriarty at #4.

http://www.nytimes.com/books/best-sellers/

 

After something new to read? Try these…

 

All these perfect strangers by Aoife Clifford

Psychological thriller (Aust. author) with an unreliable narrator. Within 6 months of Pen starting university, three of her friends are dead and only Pen knows the reason why. “A novel of disquieting intimacy and controlled suspense” – Gary Disher.

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27838280-all-these-perfect-strangers

 

Ancillary justice by Ann Leckie

Award-winning sci-fi novel, the first in a space opera trilogy. The only novel to win the Hugo, Nebula and Arthur C. Clarke Awards. Breq is the sole survivor of a starship destroyed by treachery. As the artificial consciousness of the starship, she seeks revenge on the ruler of her civilisation.

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17333324-ancillary-justice

 

The trap by Melanie Raabe

Psychological thriller. “I know who killed my sister. I wrote this book for him”. Twelve years after the murder, Linda sees her sister’s killer on TV as a well-known journalist. She sets a trap for him by writing a thriller about an unsolved murder of a young woman.

https://www.textpublishing.com.au/books/the-trap

Go books and reading!

 

 

ICT news

Coding world record

On 20 July, more than 10,000 Australian kids set a new world record for the number of children coding simultaneously at the nationwide Moonhack event. Run by Code Club Australia, participants completed a series of online computer programming exercises related to science and astronomy. Founded in 2014, Code Club Australia has over 900 clubs.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/technology/aussie-kids-set-new-coding-world-record/news-story/83825ec56170e8bcf45861f09afb08c4?utm_source=The%20Australian&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=editorial

 

Apple’s Swift Playgrounds app

At WWDC in June, Apple introduced the free Swift Playgrounds app that makes learning to code fun and easy for all. Designed for the iPad, the app encourages beginners to explore using Swift, the easy-to-learn programming language used by professional developers. Through lessons, students learn how to write code to guide onscreen characters through worlds, solving puzzles as they learn core coding concepts. Templates are included to help students create real programs that can be shared. Swift Playgrounds allows students to create an unlimited variety of interactive programs. Extra challenges will be released so students can further develop their abilities.  Swift Playgrounds is “not about learning apps for platforms. It’s about learning good coding practices” (Hodges, Apple). iOS 10 beta version available in July; final version available Sept/Oct.

 

“Swift Playgrounds is the only app of its kind that is both easy enough for students and beginners, yet powerful enough to write real code” (Federighi, Apple VP). “The new Swift Playgrounds app from Apple is one of the most powerful, yet approachable, educational coding apps we’ve ever seen.…it’s a fun and intuitive way for our students to learn the basic principles of coding using the iPad, and also become skilled in Swift” (MacDonald).

http://www.apple.com/au/pr/library/2016/06/13Swift-Playgrounds-App-Makes-Learning-to-Code-Easy-Fun.html

http://www.apple.com/swift/playgrounds/

Swift Playgrounds is built for kids, but adults might like it too:

http://thenextweb.com/apple/2016/07/14/apple-swift-playgrounds-preview/#gref

 

Facebook’s internet drone test  flight

Facebook hopes to connect the world’s 7 billion people to the internet. Aquila, Facebook’s lightweight, solar-powered, high-altitude drone, recently flew successfully for 96 minutes above Yuma, Arizona. Aquila will fly over areas of the world not yet connected to the internet, and beam down lasers to provide connectivity. It has a massive wingspan, flies as slowly as possible and only uses the equivalent power of 3 hairdryers. Using drones is more feasible than covering the world with signal towers.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-07-22/aquila-facebook-solar-powered-internet-drone-takes-flight/7651394

http://www.theverge.com/a/mark-zuckerberg-future-of-facebook/aquila-drone-internet

 

Chromebooks and Chromeboxes

At our Year 11-12 school, we have installed 30 Asus wifi Chromeboxes to replace ageing PCs in the library. The Chromeboxes use an existing monitor and run Chrome OS ($280). The device is a desktop variant of the Chromebook laptop (HP $550), which our students use frequently.  In May this year, Chromebooks outsold Macs in the US education market for the first time. That was before Google announced that apps on the Android mobile platform – all 2.2 million – would be coming to Chromebooks too. Any app on your Android phone will sync to your Chromebook (or ChromeBox, the desktop unit). Chromebooks are less expensive and require far less IT support than PCs.

http://www.crn.com.au/feature/chromebooks-cross-major-milestone-in-battle-with-apple-431039?eid=4&edate=20160722&utm_source=20160722&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_campaign=daily_newsletter

 

The benefits and otherwise of Pokemon Go

More daily users than Twitter; more time spent playing it than on Facebook. Some benefits: getting gamers to exercise; socialising with others; positive impacts on mental health; cooperation between players; increasing use of museums, coffee shops, cafes etc

http://theconversation.com/pokemon-go-gets-people-out-and-about-and-thats-a-good-thing-62343

http://www.sciencealert.com/pokemon-go-is-reportedly-helping-people-with-their-depression

http://time.com/money/4410946/pokemon-go-accidents-bar-crawls-dating/

http://www.theverge.com/2016/7/25/12273134/pokemon-go-tips-guides-news-nintendo-niantic-labs

 

Verizon buys Yahoo for $4.3 billion

The purchase includes Yahoo Search, Mail and Flickr.  Verizon will merge Yahoo with AOL, providing an advertising alternative to juggernauts Google and Facebook, which have 43% of digital ad sales worldwide. Yahoo was launched in 1995 by Stanford grad students Jerry Yang and David Filo as ‘Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web’.

http://www.cnet.com/news/verizon-buying-yahoo-likely-merging-it-with-aol/?ftag=CAD1acfa04

 

ICT news

Internet Trends Report 2016 by Mary Meeker

Her 21st annual report is over 200 slides and reveals:

Internet growth is slowing (3 billion users = 42% of world’s population); massive increase in voice commands – voice is the next big interface; in 5 years at least 50% of searches are going to be images or speech; messaging apps are rivalling the home screen as the main place for interaction; messaging is evolving with rich interactions – emoji, GIFs, videos, stickers; many online ads are ineffective; use of ad blockers is rising fast; privacy and security are ticking time bombs; user-generated videos and photos are redefining marketing; millennials don’t want to talk on the phone; smartphone growth is plateauing.

Global internet market leaders: 1. Apple 2. Google 3. Amazon 4. Facebook 5. Tencent (China)

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/innovations/wp/2016/06/01/what-you-are-doing-online-and-other-top-findings-from-an-exhaustive-study-of-the-internet/?tid=a_inl

 

The 50 most influential gadgets of all time

A great list with interesting info including Apple Macintosh, Walkman, Victrola record player, Kodak Brownie camera, iPod, Philips VCR, Game Boy, TomTom, iPad, Kindle, Polaroid camera, Raspberry Pi, Segway, Fitbit, Wii, PlayStation….and the number 1? Apple iPhone – Apple dominates the list.

http://time.com/4309573/most-influential-gadgets/

http://time.com/4309573/most-influential-gadgets/

 

Google’s Magenta project

Magenta just wrote its first piece of music. This research project uses machine intelligence and algorithms for music and art generation. Machine learning has already been used extensively to understand content (eg. for speech recognition and for translation). Robots with rhythm?

http://www.pcworld.com/article/3077977/data-center-cloud/googles-magenta-project-just-wrote-its-first-piece-of-music-and-thankfully-its-not-great.html

 

Want to test-drive for Google?

In Phoenix, you can apply to test-drive Google’s self-driving car and earn $20 per hour for six to eight hours a day, 5 dpw on a 12-24 month contract. Drivers must have a bachelor’s degree, a typing speed of over 40 words per minute and a clean driving and criminal record. Testers will work in teams of 2, with one submitting detailed reports.

http://www.digitaltrends.com/cars/google-driverless-car-driver-job/#:jR9_-At6fdrqCA

 

Your Google Account will help you find your phone

“Ok Google, show me my Google account”. Voice searches on Google have tripled in the past 2 years. Google is now adding a Find your phone feature – in a few steps, you can locate your phone, lock and call it, secure your account and leave a callback number on the screen. For Android and iOS.

http://www.nasdaq.com/article/dont-panic-google-will-help-find-your-lost-phone-20160602-01370

Libraries, bookshops and makerspaces

The bookshop that bans mobile phones and tablets

London bookshop Libreria has declared itself a “digital detox zone”, banning customers from using mobile phones and tablets within the store. It is attempting to “immerse the visitor in the visceral joys of reading and the pleasure of physical books, as well as to reawaken the art of real-life conversation, debates and talks, a sense of conviviality and a taste of the unexpected”. Visitors can take photos, but if they are caught texting, phoning, using the internet or social media, they are politely requested to stop. Most people are happy to oblige. Libreria’s founders believe “we have reached a ‘cultural tipping point’ with book lovers rebelling against the ‘digital deluge’.” Other London bookshops are following suit. Libreria groups books according to loose themes rather than genre eg. the sea and the sky. Guest curators have also made selections eg. Jeanette Winterson.

http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20160324-could-this-be-your-new-favourite-bookshop

 

Why the internet hasn’t killed the library (yet) – Donald Barclay, Deputy University Librarian, Uni of California, Merced.

Most reference questions in US academic libraries are now via email or web chat. Over 400 academic libraries provide 24/7 reference services as members of OCLC’s 24/7 Reference Cooperative. Circulation and in-person reference transaction numbers have decreased markedly, but there has been a steady increase in the number of people setting foot in academic libraries. These libraries have been reinventing themselves and converting printed book space to space for students to study, collaborate, learn and even socialise! Libraries offer consultation services and spaces for research, writing, analysing data, graphic design, presentation practice, digital media preparation, makerspaces, music practice, funding opportunities etc Some spaces are open 24/7 and many have relaxed food and drink rules (!)

https://theconversation.com/has-the-library-outlived-its-usefulness-in-the-age-of-internet-youd-be-surprised-58198

 

Create knowledge and other stuff at your library!

The availability of makerspaces in many US public libraries has had many benefits. Libraries are now “places where people can not only consume knowledge, but create new knowledge” (Miguel Figueroa, ALA). 3D printers have allowed many people to create prototypes, models and parts far more cheaply at their library than through commercial manufacturing.

The Harold Washington Library Center in Chicago set up their Maker Lab to support 21st century learning, as a trial in 2013. It was very popular and current sessions are usually fully booked in advance. 68% of participants are women; 55% are 26-45 year olds; 70% visited the lab to try something new. Pop-up labs visit some neighbourhoods. 3D printing, the Laser Cutter and the Vinyl Cutter are all popular. Non-digital craft programs are also offered.

http://www.cplfoundation.org/site/DocServer/Maker_Lab_White_Paper_2015_web.pdf?docID=681

http://www.chipublib.org/maker-lab/

https://psmag.com/libraries-are-the-future-of-manufacturing-in-the-united-states-5509c61ac87f#.qk9t4rw6v

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/03/everyone-is-a-maker/473286/

Long but interesting: Will makerspaces last? Do they help their members earn a real living or to learn more than a smattering of skills?: https://placesjournal.org/article/makerspace-towards-a-new-civic-infrastructure/?gclid=CjwKEAjwyPW5BRCC3JaM7qfW_FwSJACM3jz9-nMuaAiFaYD46C0nOojQ9fFuvs37reC2tsLTlPOGwBoCi1fw_wcB

 

Tablets out, imagination in: the schools that shun technology

In Silicon Valley, California, the Waldorf School of the Peninsula does not use technology in the classroom but employees of the tech giants still send their children there. Innovative thinking skills and creativity are emphasised. At the London Acorn school, the internet is banned for everyone under 16 years – at home and at school. Computers are used only with those over 14 years. “The problem with instant information is that the ease with which you can get from A to B and find the answers doesn’t reflect real life” (Sarah Thorne, principal)

http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2015/dec/02/schools-that-ban-tablets-traditional-education-silicon-valley-london

 

Kansas City Library, Missouri

How awesome…the façade of the parking garage of the Central Library is made of 8 metre tall book spines – the “Community Bookshelf”. The community voted on the 22 titles to be displayed, including Lord of the rings, Fahrenheit 451, Catch-22, A tale of two cities, Charlotte’s web, To kill a mockingbird, The invisible man, Romeo and Juliet….

http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/kansas-city-library-s-giant-bookshelf

http://www.kclibrary.org/community-bookshelf

ICT, robots and binge-watching

Are we being too quick to embrace technology in education?

Neil Selwyn: “Many recently developed forms of education seem to benefit those who are already well-resourced and well-educated. The participation and completion rates of many MOOCs tend to be skewed towards college-educated, high-income young males… Emerging technologies have much to offer but there will be consequences – what forms of education do we really want?” Excellent discussion by Brett Clarke in the Comments: Governments have poured too much money into devices and student-computer ratios instead of investing money into the professional development of school leaders and teachers. Teachers need skills in pedagogical practice and creating learning environments that are enhanced by technology.

Listen to the program: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/futuretense/are-we-being-too-quick-to-embrace-technology-in-education/7211366

 

Australia will have to face the consequences of its education gap

According to the Fairfax-Lateral Economics Wellbeing Index, each degree or higher trade qualification is worth almost $1 million in wellbeing for the community. Employment in high-skill industries has grown more quickly – low-skill workers face growing competition from new migrants, offshoring and even robots. The growing educational-cultural divide will cause problems – the best predictor of support for Trump has been the absence of a college degree.

http://www.theage.com.au/comment/australia-will-have-to-face-the-consequences-of-its-education-gap-20160405-gnyrq6.html

 

Can handwriting make you smarter?

Researchers at Princeton and UCLA found that students who took handwritten notes generally outperformed students who typed their notes – and more type. Those who write their notes appear to learn better, retain information longer and grasp new ideas more readily. Handwriting encodes the information more deeply in memory – longhand notes were more organised and students thought more about what they were going to write. Students who type can take more notes but they are verbatim and this seems to undermine learning – they forget what they have typed after 24 hours.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/can-handwriting-make-you-smarter-1459784659

 

Lower case for internet and web!

The 2016 Stylebook of Associated Press (AP) will advise that from 1 June “internet” and “web” should be in lower case and no longer capitalised. Some people aren’t happy…they like Internet! Thanks AP – in 2010 they ruled “web site” would become “website” and in 2011, “e-mail” became “email”.

http://www.techtimes.com/articles/146708/20160404/the-ap-stylebook-will-lowercase-internet-starting-june-1-and-the-web-reacts.htm

 

Google: don’t be evil?

Google is one of the US’s largest providers of edtech in K-12 schools. However, Google does track student data – but not to target them for advertising or to get personal details. It tracks students signed into Google Apps for Education when they use Search, YouTube, Blogger and Maps and uses the data “to develop and improve Google products” (Sue Molinari, a Google VP).

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/education/wp/2016/02/16/google-says-it-tracks-personal-student-data-but-not-for-advertising/

 

Robot tutors

The L2TOR Project (pronounced el-tutor) uses social robot tutors in 4 European cities in the Netherlands, Germany and Turkey to help immigrant pre-schoolers learn the local language. The project is run by linguists and roboticists from European universities. Students work through a course under the watchful eye of a NAO robot. The robot explains learning intentions before the lesson, observes body language during the lesson and assists with problems. Researchers have found that social robots have marked benefits over screen-based tutoring and positive impacts on motivation.

http://www.l2tor.eu/

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/01/robot-teaching-machines-language-learning-l2tor/426639/

 

Amazon Inspire

Amazon Education is working on a new free platform that allows schools to upload, curate, share and discover open education resources (OER). Users can self-publish resources and add ratings and reviews. Metadata tags will be assigned to the resources via learning Registry. Schools could upload their entire digital library if it was open and freely available. Scheduled for release in mid 2016.

https://marketbrief.edweek.org/marketplace-k-12/amazon-education-to-launch-new-website-for-open-ed-resources/

 

Ahh holidays…and binge-watching

It was Collins Dictionary Word of the Year for 2015….but it’s not all good. The University of Texas found a strong connection between binge-watching, being depressed and lonely and having a self-regulation deficiency. A team from Zurich noted that binge-watchers want more material things and feel more anxious about life. The American Medical Association examined 25 years of research and found that people who watch a lot of TV have a weaker brain function. So binge if you must but beware!

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/01/150129094341.htm?

http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/is-netflix-really-making-you-sad-who-knows-but-lets-report-that-anyway-20160331-gnv7o9.html

http://asianjournal.com/news/study-binge-watching-tv-as-a-young-adult-could-lead-to-decline-in-brain-function/

 

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