ICT news

Digital Australia Report 2016 (DA16)

The video game industry in Australia is worth over $1 billion a year and sales exceed movie box office receipts. The Australian games industry is growing and video games are being used widely in education, health and ageing. Bond University and IGEA (Interactive Games & Entertainment Assoc.) surveyed 3398 Australians of all ages. 68% of the population plays video games – mostly on PCs but phones and tablets have seen increased use for adults. Children play on all devices. Average age of video gamers is 33 years. 47% of video game players are female. 98% of homes with children have video games. 35% of children have played games for the school curriculum. 24% have used video games at work for training. 89% say video gaming can improve thinking skills. 61% think video games could fight dementia. 49% of people over 50 play – the fastest growing segment.



PlayStation Virtual Reality headset

PlayStation VR, Sony’s virtual reality headset  for the PlayStation 4, will arrive in October 2016 for $AU550. Attached to a comfortable padded headset, special curved lenses stretch and magnify a 5.7 inch screen across your field of vision. It will come with 50 games, immersing you in a 3D world of virtual reality. You will also need a PlayStation camera and motion controllers (wands). It will be cheaper than the other 2 VR headsets coming this year – Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.


Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality were huge this year at TED in Vancouver and the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, with VR headsets now available with the latest mobile phones. Mark Zuckerberg: “VR is the next platform, where anyone can experience and share anything they want”.




Minecraft Education Edition

Minecraft (owned by Microsoft) is used in over 7000 classrooms in more than 40 countries. Microsoft recently acquired learning game MinecraftEdu from Finland, which has lessons for teachers using Minecraft with STEM, history, language and art. The new Minecraft Education Edition will be rolled out mid 2016 – free at first, then $5 pa per child.



Do games boost learning?

A 2013 French study of 27 000 Year 9 students found very little correlation between playing video games and cognitive/school tests. However, a new study from the Uni of Bristol found that progressive scoring systems in games deactivate the brain’s Default Mode Network and quieten down parts of the brain associated with unfocused mind-wandering. Students given a gamified quiz showed higher engagement and more goal-directed behaviour.



Problem: Australia’s internet/broadband speed

In 2015, our download speed was ranked 49th in the world . By 2025, our broadband speed will be 75% of the world average, ranking 100th. The government’s Fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) network will struggle to accommodate all devices and their download requirements in the future (eg. 4K ultra HD video streaming).



Social media and sleep

No surprise really…recent Uni of Pittsburgh studies of 19-32 yr olds found heavy use of social media was linked to sleep problems and a significantly greater risk of depression. A 2015 study of 11-17 yr olds found social media use was linked to diminished sleep quality, lower self-esteem and elevated levels of anxiety and depression.


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.


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.



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


The value of games and gaming


Game-based learning has appeared as an important emerging technology in recent K-12 Horizon Reports (2010, 2011, 2012) – with a 2 to 3 year time to adoption. Schools have had success with the gamification of learning, using World of Warcraft and Minecraft to deliver curriculum: http://www.starnewsonline.com/article/20120724/ARTICLES/120729863

Jane McGonigal – games designer and evangelist
You have probably seen her 2010 TedTalk Gaming can make a better world – viewed by over 2 million: http://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_gaming_can_make_a_better_world.html
Her 2011 book Reality is broken: why games make us better and how they can change the world looks at gaming through the prism of positive psychology. Gamers tap into traits such as optimism, resilience and learning from failure – very useful when you face tough challenges. Games can provide solutions to real world problems (eg. her World without oil game).

She has recently developed SuperBetter – an online self-help game that helps users deal with personal challenges. Points and medals are awarded in the pursuit of recovery – an “epic win”.

Watch her TedTalk posted last week: The game that can give you 10 extra years of life. She explains how games can boost resilience, happiness and mood and even lead to a longer healthier life. A bit gimmicky but interesting and entertaining with some quick ideas for the classroom about boosting your physical, mental, social and  emotional resilience (eg. experience 3 positive emotions for every negative emotion in your daily life).
Review: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/29/fashion/jane-mcgonigal-designer-of-superbetter-moves-games-deeper-into-daily-life.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all



TED-Ed Website Tour

The TED-Ed team provides an in depth look at the powerful features of the newly-launched TED-ED Beta website. You’ll learn how TED-Ed videos are created, how they are arranged, about the learning materials that surround each video, and how you can create customized or “flipped” lessons based on any TED-Ed video or any video on YouTube.

TED-Ed and The scale of the universe

Be inspired by the scale of things in our universe……you are but a speck…This is awesome (you might have seen the first one from 2010).

The scale of the universe 2 (2012) by Cary & Michael Huang
An interactive tool – use the scroll bar to zoom in on the smallest things in the universe (like quantum foam) & then zoom out to the edge of the universe. Compare the scale of things along the way. Click on each picture for more info.
Or watch it on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uaGEjrADGPA
The scale of the universe 1 (2010)

TED-Ed YouTube Channel: Lessons worth sharing
Launched 8 March. The channel will be a collection of short animated talks explaining various concepts (3 – 10 min; no talking heads). 12 animated videos are currently available & will be added to daily. From April, teachers can submit their best lessons (or suggest one) which will then be animated & existing TED content will also be remade.

The 2012 TED Prize winner: The City 2.0
This could be useful for Geography/SOSE/Design/Architecture classes. This year’s winner was awarded to a concept rather than an individual. People are encouraged to submit their ideas to The City 2.0 & “Dream me, build me, make me real”. The TED Prize will “create a platform to allow citizens anywhere to participate in the creation of their City 2.0. The platform will excite, connect and empower individuals and communities around the world through editorial content (video and text), a shareable project database, tools for local connection, and resources for executing ideas. The result will be an ever-expanding network of citizen-led experiments, with the ability to scale successes and learn lessons from failures”.

Encyclopaedia Britannica now available only online
After 244 years in print, Encyclopaedia Britannica will no longer publish its 32-volume book sets.
A new version is usually printed every two years, but the company has announced the 2010 set will be the last.
The online version has many more links & articles than the book edition and is available free online via eResources at the Libraries ACT website: http://wfxsearch.webfeat.org/wfsearch/menu?cid=10228 (you need a card & PIN).


Best TEDTalks 2011; Google 2011; Best of iTunes & App Store 2011

Some trivia and “best of” lists for the end of year and some inspirational videos for the holidays…

TEDTalks – 18 great ideas from 2011 that can help shape 2012
TED and the Huffington Post countdown 18 of the most powerful TEDTALK videos of 2011, with ideas that can help shape the world in 2012. Includes Less stuff, more happiness; Pay attention to nonviolence; The power of vulnerability and Google’s driverless car – still uses petrol though. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/tedtalks2011

The 10 best TEDTalks of 2011 (according to ReadWriteWeb)
Includes How to spot a liar; How I became 100 artists and Try something new for 30 days.

Google’s top Australian searches for 2011
No real surprises. The top overall searches were for Facebook and YouTube. Jackie Chan was in the top 10 celebrities and red velvet cupcakes was the top food search. The most popular “What is?” search was What is love? The most popular travel destination was Hamilton Island; there were more searches for AFL than NRL and there were more searches for Toyota than Holden.

Google Zeitgeist 2011
3 minute video of the world in 2011 & other links: http://www.googlezeitgeist.com/#en/

Best of the iTunes & App store 2011
Apple Australia have released the best of the iTunes and App Store for 2011 – the bestsellers and also their top editorial choices.

Apps: Their top choices were Instagram (photosharing app for iPhone) and Snapseed (photo editing app for iPad) but the most popular free apps were Facebook, Viber and Words with friends. Angry birds was the top selling game. They liked Tiny wings and Real racing 2HD.

Music: Bestselling song was Party rock anthem by LMFAO. Bestselling albums were 21 by Adele and Making mirrors by Gotye.

TV shows: They liked Game of thrones & The slap; bestsellers were True blood & The big bang theory.

Movies: Bestsellers were Harry Potter & the deathly hallows Pt 2 and Inception.

Books: They liked Caleb’s crossing by Geraldine Brooks and kids’ book What body part is that? by Andy Griffiths. The top 5 bestsellers (bar one) were all by George R.R. Martin – A Game of thrones series. #3 went to Something borrowed by Emily Griffin. And the bestselling non fiction title was Walter Isaacson’s biography Steve Jobs.

Log in to your iTunes account & visit the App store to see the full Rewind 2011 list.

Results for iTunes USA: