ICT and STEM news

STEM learning

Special edition of STEM articles from Teacher magazine. Includes virtual classrooms for Year 10s, STEM and gender and best practice for primary STEM.

Demystifying the AC Digital Technologies Curriculum P-6

Webinar with Dr Linda McIver; 19 June and 31 July 3.45-5pm.


STEM learning: international best practice: Queensland science teacher Sarah Chapman gathered evidence from around the world. Essential elements include real world experiences, expertise from industry links, mentorships and cross-curricular integration.


Full report: https://cew.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Engaging-the-future-of-STEM.pdf


Australian Online Landscape Review (latest: April 2017)

Quarterly report produced by IAB/Nielsen. Top 10 brands: 1.Google 2.Facebook 3.YouTube 4.MSN/Outlook/Bing/Skype 5.Apple 6.eBay 7.Microsoft 8.Wikipedia 9.Instagram 10.Yahoo7.

Top 10 brands for streaming: 1.YouTube 2.Facebook 3.VEVO (music) 4.Vimeo (videos) 5.news.com.au 6.smh.com.au 7.MSN/Outlook/Bing/Skype 8.nine.com.au 9.Yahoo7 10. ABC Online

Smartphones are used more than desktops, which are used more than tablets.



Australians’ viewing habits

There are more screens (6.4 in each home) and most are internet-capable. Viewing is spread across devices but TV remains by far the most-watched screen. 86% of video viewing is on TVs – free-to-air or subscription; live or played back. TVs are also used for other tasks – gaming, DVDs, internet, music streaming, YouTube videos etc




Australia’s internet speeds

According to the most recent Akamai State of the Internet report we are now 51st in the world for home broadband internet speeds (10.1 Mbps). However, we are well above the global average of 7 Mbps even with a large area to cover. Fastest is South Korea (26.1Mbps) 2. Norway 3. Sweden 4.Hong Kong 5.Switzerland. We are leading the Asia-Pacific region in mobile connectivity speeds (13.8 Mbps).



Why do adults think video games are bad?

The excellent news site The Conversation is running a series for children – Curious Kids, where children send in questions they would like an expert to answer. Recent research suggests that playing online games that involve puzzle-solving increases scores in maths, science and reading, whereas using social networking reduces academic achievement.




The science for and against video gaming

They can make your brain grow and they make you more self-aware and happier; but they can make you less empathetic and more violent.



People could be genetically predisposed to social media use

One to two-thirds of variance in social media use is attributable to genetic traits; unique and shared environmental factors account for the remainder of variance.




“A classroom with the ultimate view” – students enrol in missions on the International Space Station and request images of specific locations on Earth. The program was set up by astronaut Sally Ride in  1995, initially on space shuttle flights. 8000 schools from 78 countries have now participated with over 500 000 students creating a library of 94 000 images.


Search the image gallery: https://www.earthkam.org/ek-images



Google Maps street-view of Uluru

Just launched after 2 years of consultation with traditional owners. The interactive map includes audio stories from the Anangu owners about the significance of Uluru, traditional law and creation stories. Many sacred sections of the rock were not photographed. Viewers can zoom into crevices, walk along trails and view ancient art. Google plans to map other Australian cultural sites, including Kakadu.



Live interactions with robots increase their perceived human likeness

We need to get used to a future where robots will be part of our everyday lives, but rarely do we see robots face to face. A recent study found that people who watched live interactions with a robot were more likely to consider the robot to have more human-like qualities. Robots presented in virtual reality also scored high in human likeness. Watching a robot on a 2D screen scored lowest. “Many people will have their first encounter with a service robot over the next decade. Service robots are designed to communicate with humans in humanlike ways and assist them in various aspects of their daily routine. Potential areas of application range from hospitals and nursing homes to hotels and the users’ households” (Schreiner).



The 2017 emoji list: emoji version 5.0

All those cute little emoji have to be approved by the Unicode consortium and will be launched this month. There are 69 new images; 24 have 5 additional skin tones and 10 are non-gendered. New emoji include a genie, an older person, a breastfeeding mum and broccoli. There are now a total of 239 approved emoji.


Who doesn’t love Wikipedia?

Definitely an important part of the online world…..


Wikipedia – one of the most used sites on the web at #7



Wikipedia stats (Sept 2014)

33.5 million articles (4.7 million in English; Swedish is next largest 1.94 mill, followed by Dutch 1.79 mill then German 1.73 mill.)

287 languages

English articles equivalent to 2058 volumes of Britannica

8.7 million views per hour (English)

793 new articles per day in English  – down from peaks of over 1500 in 2006/2007.

Active volunteer editors – declining. 3000 editors make 100 changes a month (English) – down from 4 700 in 2007.






Who edits Wikipedia?

Wikipedians write and edit pages. They do it because they like volunteering to share knowledge and believe that information should be freely available – it’s also fun. A study into editor gender bias revealed 84% of English Wikipedia editors are male (91% globally). 20% of editors are from the US; the top 10 editor countries are all either Nth America or Europe, except for India. Age distribution – 59% are 17-40 yrs; 28% are 40+.



Harvard hires a Wikipedia editor to be its ‘Wikipedian in Residence’

In March, the Houghton Library at Harvard advertised a 12 week position for an experienced Wikipedia editor to write and improve articles for Wikipedia and to upload some of its own archives into Wikimedia, the parent organisation of Wikipedia. The Houghton Library focuses on rare and older books and it is hoped that there will be more use of their collections, whilst Wikipedia will get enhanced content. Wikimedia has been encouraging liaisons such as this for several years and many institutions have participated – eg. US National Archives, British Library, Smithsonian Archives. Harvard has also hosted ‘edit-a-thons’ for Wikipedia. During Science Week in August, Australia’s first “Wikibomb” sessions were held, where Wikipedia entries about leading female scientists were added.




Paid editors on Wikipedia

Would you trust it any more or less if you knew people were being paid to contribute content? Since August, Wikipedia  allows paid contributors to make changes, as long as they disclose their affiliations. Critics dislike paid editors, as it conflicts with Wikipedia’s core editing policy of neutrality – but of course, PR people are already “wikiwashing” entries for companies, politicians and others.




Bots as authors and editors on Wikipedia

Sverker Johansson in Sweden has contributed 2.7 million articles to Wikipedia – more than anyone else – but most of his entries have been created by a software program (bot). His program searches digital resources and packages the information into an article. Increasing amounts of new content on Wikipedia is now written by bots.


Fear not – Wikipedia’s robots patrol 24/7 to kill vandalism: http://www.theverge.com/2014/2/18/5412636/this-machine-kills-trolls-how-wikipedia-robots-snuff-out-vandalism


Are Wikipedia’s days numbered?

New editors are hard to retain. Are there too many rules for them? Will Wikipedia adapt to Google Glass and translation services? The format is a bit dated now – should it be redesigned?



ALIA ACT Wikipedia and libraries information evening Mon 24 Nov in Canberra

What do Wikipedia and libraries have in common? How can libraries and Wikimedia Aust. work together?


Internet Trends Report and The Conversation US

The Conversation launches US service

The acclaimed Australian news analysis website The Conversation launched its US service last week – following the UK launch last year. “The 3 newsrooms will work as one, sharing content and ideas from 14 000 academics. Australian academics and institutions will benefit from the increased global audience and opportunity for collaboration” – and readers will have increased access to quality information on current topics.




Technology improves higher learning – it doesn’t kill it

Gavin Moodie (RMIT) believes that MOOCs are unlikely to “disrupt” universities any more than print books did in early universities. Rather – “informal, open and online learning will be absorbed within exisiting universities to augment and improve their practices”. Interesting info about libraries and how they were changed by print…early libraries were closed to undergraduates – at Cambridge they were fined for entering them in the early 17th century! In the 18th century books were so numerous that a pedagogical role emerged for libraries, helping students navigate texts.



Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report 2014

The tech analyst’s influential report comes out annually mid year. She notes the biggest trend is towards mobile devices with sensors that enable users to share a huge range of information. This big data  can in turn be used to solve problems and create new products, but privacy and other rights could be compromised.




Interesting insights:


* Internet users globally growing at less than 10% a year, but initiatives like Google’s Project Loon and Facebook’s Internet.org hope to increase this

* Mobile usage continues to grow strongly – 25% of all web usage

* 30% of all mobile users are now smartphone users

* Tablets are growing faster than PCs ever did

* Unbundling of web and mobile apps – users now want simple apps that do one thing well

* New smartphone sensors (eg. accelerometers, compasses, barometers, heart rate sensors, GPS etc) are fueling the Big Data Age; it is hard to analyse all this Big Data

* 34% of the digital universe is useful but only 7% is tagged

* Cybersecurity is getting harder

* Mobile interfaces are changing everything – transport (Uber), restaurants (Yelp), accommodation (Airbnb), music consumption (Spotify)

* Many developing countries leapfrogged the laptop/PC era and went straight to mobile

* Social networking is changing from broadcast to private sharing – rather than sharing a little with a lot of people, we are sharing a lot with a few close friends. Giant international messaging apps have risen (Snapchat, WhatsApp etc)

* Music streaming up, digital song sales down for the first time (files are a nuisance; streaming is easier)

* Huge interest in cryptocurrencies (eg. bitcoin)

* Photo sharing is huge – we also upload fitness, events and computer code

* Decreasing cost of digital storage

* 84% of mobile owners use devices while watching TV

* Viewers are ditching traditional TV for online video content

* TV channels growing fast as mobile apps

* YouTube channels have huge reach and growth; YouTube stars are the new movie stars

* Rise of BuzzFeed (top Facebook news publisher)

* New genre of video – “Spectator gaming” – watch others playing – Twitch is top video streaming site

* Top 5 internet properties are from the US – Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, Wikipedia – but majority of their users are from abroad

* Top public tech market leaders – Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Tencent (China)

* China is becoming a tech superpower with many innovations eg. WeChat


Summary of slides (54 slides): http://techcrunch.com/gallery/mary-meeker-internet-trends/

Full report (164 slides): http://www.kpcb.com/internet-trends

Aussie Teens Online Report

ACMA (Aust. Communications and Media Authority) recently released a research snapshot: Aussie teens online (14-17 year olds).

Good infographic: http://www.acma.gov.au/theACMA/aussie-teens-online
Report summary: http://www.acma.gov.au/theACMA/engage-blogs/engage-blogs/Research-snapshots/Aussie-teens-online

• 69% of their mobile phones are smartphones.
• Mobile phones are increasingly used for online activities.
• 23% go online with a tablet; 74% with a laptop/computer; 56% with a smartphone.
• Wireless hotspots are increasingly used for internet access.
• 72% go online more than once a day.
• The top 5 internet domains visited (Dec 2013): Google (including Search, Chrome, Mail, Maps, Earth etc); Facebook; YouTube; Mi9 (including Skype, Xbox, ninemsn etc); Microsoft.
• 90% went online for entertainment activities – the most time spent online was at YouTube, then Facebook & Skype.
• Teenagers are not the dominant group in social media forums (other age groups outrank them) – they account for 7% of Australians who use social networking.
• Teens in Aust. and the US are moving away from Facebook (70% in 2012 to 58% 2013).
• Teens access a range of online forums – Wikipedia, WikiHow, Tumblr, Blogger, ninemsn Entertainment videos.

Not many surprises really….and 6 in 10 are going online for research and information! The internet is a natural and essential part of their (and our) lives….more support for BYOD.

Internet ethics?
You may have read about Facebook’s unethical experiment, where it secretly manipulated 700 000 users’ emotions via the Facebook news feed, in order to study “emotional contagion through social networks”. The researchers wanted to see if reading fewer positive posts made people less likely to post positive content (and the same for negative messages). They found that social networks can indeed propagate positive and negative feelings. And apparently we agreed to this “research” via the Data Use Policy when we signed up. A good article for discussion for psychology, sociology and legal studies classes.

ICT news and the online world

Some ICT news…useful for sociology, media studies, popular culture, business studies, psychology and BYOD schools….

 Australian Online Landscape Review Sept 2013

This Nielsen report found 16.4 million Australians were actively online in Sept 2013.

Top 10 brands in order: Google; Facebook; Mi9; YouTube; Microsoft; Yahoo!7; eBay; Wikipedia; Apple; ABC Online. More hours are devoted to Facebook per person than any other site and people spend longer on eBay than Wikipedia.

Online video streaming – top 10 brands in order: YouTube; Facebook; Mi9; VEVO (music videos); CollegeHumor Network; Yahoo!7; ABC Online; smh.com.au; news.com.au; Vube (video sharing contests). Men streamed 30.1% more videos than women and most streaming was done by 18-24 year olds.

41% of daily browsers came from a mobile device or tablet and 58% from a computer.



 Australian Multi Screen Report (Q2 2013)

This Nielsen report found 92% of all video viewing is on the TV set; 80% of homes have the internet; 33% of homes have tablets; 22% of homes have internet-connected TVs; 65% aged 16+ own a smartphone.


Australian tablet sales poised to eclipse desktop computers and laptops

Telsyte predicts tablet sales & use will eclipse PCs, Macs & laptops within 2 years. In the first half of 2013, Australians bought 2.3 million tablets – more than for the whole of 2012. Smartphone sales continue to rise, with 14 million users in Aust. By 2014 in Aust., more people will access the internet on smartphones than computers. Tablets will follow.


Most popular websites on the internet for 8 Nov 2013

Top 12 in order: Google; Facebook; YouTube; Yahoo; Baidu; Wikipedia; Qq; Linkedin; Windows Live; Twitter; Amazon; Blogger. Click on the entries for interesting info about the companies – website review, news, traffic graph, website worth.


Alexa top 500 sites on the web

Similar top 10 to above. Alexa ranks Bing at 19; eBay at 20; Pinterest at 26; Instagram at 40; imdb at 47.  http://www.alexa.com/topsites

Top 500 sites in Australia: http://www.alexa.com/topsites/countries/AU. Linkedin is 8; Gumtree is 12; realestate.com.au is 18; Seek is 26; Pirate Bay is 33.

Search top sites by country: http://www.alexa.com/topsites/countries

9 ways video games can actually be good for you

Mothers of gamers – stop stressing! Play games, increase your brain size & stop aging!


Video games represent the most powerful (and potentially dangerous) era in storytelling

Video games are expressive &  formative and, relative to other forms of storytelling, allow for choice.



Born to be wired

Interesting program on Catalyst last week – available online.

Catalyst special edition: Born to be wired (ABC 18/10/12)
Investigates how the digital revolution is changing us. Is digital technology changing the way we think, act and feel? Are our brains being rewired fundamentally? Is fast information like fast food? Can virtual experiences through avatars affect our behaviour & memories?

Extended interviews on the Catalyst website: Susan Greenfield’s concerns about digital technology, psychiatrist’s concerns about narcissism, how the internet changes the brain and many other interesting links from Catalyst/ABC archives and elsewhere.




The truth about mobile phone use on airplanes

Confused by why you can’t use your mobile phone on a plane? Especially when some airlines insist that it stay turned off whilst others allow use as soon as the plane has landed. If it is so dangerous then why are airlines now offering this facility (for a fee) during flights. Many reasons have been offered for this but all lack substance as noted in this Wikipedia article.

Below is an interesting YouTube clip that debunks the myths one by one then presents the real reason.

QR codes

10 November 2011

QR codes

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


QR code generators

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

Bitly  http://bitly.com/

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

Google http://goo.gl/

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

Kaywa  http://qrcode.kaywa.com/

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

Quikqr http://quikqr.com/  Email your QR code.

QRpedia  http://qrpedia.org/

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

37 examples of using QR codes (fun) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGYqxVrJN-s&feature=related

QR codes – solutions for maths problems http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_X2AYmcoOkI&feature=related

Primary students use QR codes to get to websites easily….cute! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSA3YsBy_pU&feature=related

QR code Info from Chris Smith (Shamblesguru) http://shambles.net/pages/learning/ict/qrcode/


New films and Wikipedia


Some interesting new films coming up for English, psychology, communication, marketing, Australian identity….enjoy 🙂

Jane Eyre


Yay for Canberra’s Mia Wasikowska (whose brother is here at DC) in the new film directed by Cary Fukunaga, based on the book by Charlotte Bronte. Also starring Michael Fassbender as Rochester. Some say she is the best Jane ever J Opens 11 August.






Political thriller directed by Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, The day after tomorrow). Stars Rhys Ifans & Vanessa Redgrave. Aust. release Nov 2011. Was Shakespeare a fraud? Was Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford, the true author of Shakespeare’s plays? Did Oxford have an affair with Queen Elizabeth and was it all about who would succeed Elizabeth? Alas, poor Shakespeare…sounds intriguing…


Hunger Games: the movie



Directed by Gary Ross. Stars Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson. In the ruins of North America, a boy & a girl from each district are forced to compete in the Hunger Games, where only one person will survive. This exceptionally popular “cross-over” book will be released as a film in March 2012 (USA).


The greatest movie ever sold

Morgan Spurlock’s (Supersize me) new film looks at the huge amounts of product placement in movies – and his film was entirely paid for through product placement & marketing deals. Contributions from Noam Chomsky, Quentin Tarantino, Ralph Nader but not McDonald’s hehe. Apparently even Jules Verne sold naming rights to the shipping companies in Around the world in 80 days!



The beaver

Comedy-drama directed by Jodie Foster. Stars Mel Gibson & Jodie Foster. A troubled executive adopts a beaver hand-puppet as his sole means of communicating. A study of delusion, depression and personal redemption.



Red dog

Based on the book Red dog by Louis de Bernieres (Captain Corelli’s mandolin). Stars Rachel Taylor. Based on the true story of the Red Dog who united a remote mining community while searching for his master in the Australian outback. 4 and a half stars from David & 4 stars from Margaret!    http://www.abc.net.au/atthemovies/txt/s3272052.htm




No more New inventors or Art nation and Spicks & specks finishes in Nov. L


Wikipedia: Rate This Page

Wikipedia is now crowdsourcing article evaluation – Rate This Page appears at the end of some pages. Use the 5 stars to give ratings. Categories are: Trustworthy? Objective? Complete? Well written? It now appears on over 100 000 Wikipedia pages.

Why it could be a bad idea:    http://gizmodo.com/5823523/ratings-will-ruin-wikipedia


Wikimedia Foundation targets for 2015

4 out of 5 Wikipedia editors are male and 4 out of 5 are from the Global North. The Wikimedia Foundation would like to change this. It aims to:

“Increase the total number of people served to 1 billion.

Increase the number of Wikipedia articles we offer to 50 million.

Ensure information is high quality by increasing the percentage of material reviewed to be of high or very high quality by 25 %.

Encourage readers to become contributors by increasing the number of total editors per month who made >5 edits to 200,000.

Support healthy diversity in the editing community by doubling the percentage of female editors to 25 percent and increasing the percentage of Global South editors to 37 percent.”

Check out the graphs of numbers of articles & editors here. Interesting to see a plateau effect .…