Its 2009 but ‘world’ in www still only means 23.5%

I just recieved my email newsletter from Internet World stats today. It provides a fascinating summary of internet use and penetration across nine geographic regions (it strangely has the Carribbean as its own region) as well as the world as a whole. These are vitally important pieces of information for those wanting to track how much internet training to provide their students based on the trends for how important its becoming in their region of the world.

The stats this time (from end of 2008) are fascinating in that they show that while North America has an internet penetration of 73.1%, Australia/Oceania was second with 59.9%, and Europe was at 48.5%. Asia as a whole was at 17.2% (but off a much larger population base). Whats even more interesting/ shocking to me was that as a whole, internet use/ availability was 23.5%. Less than a quarter of the world use/access the world wide web. Maybe we should change the name for a while? It made me stop and think that even though I live in an entirely connected/ internet based reality, on a global scale I’m in the minority and should cherish the benefits I am able to gain from living where I do. Just sayin.

Internet World Statistics Report
2008 Year-end Internet Users by World Regions



Internet Users

P. R. (%)

% Table




5.6 %

3.4 %

America, North



73.1 %

15.7 %

America, Central



19.0 %

1.8 %

America, South



33.0 %

8.2 %

Caribbean, the



22.0 %

0.6 %




17.2 %

41.3 %




48.5 %

24.8 %

Middle East



23.3 %

2.9 %

Oceania, Australia



59.9 %

1.3 %

Total World



23.5 %

100.0 %

Source: Internet World Stats, estimates for December 31, 2008. Notes: a) Population data comes from the US Census Bureau; b) Internet estimates come from ITU, Nielsen Online, GfK, official telecommunications regulating agencies and other trustworthy surveys; c) Mexico is included in Central America and Turkey is included in Europe, according to the United Nations grouping; d) P.R. means the Penetration Rate.
Copyright © 2009, Miniwatts Marketing Group.

In December 2008 the number of Internet users reached 1,574,313,184 persons. This represents a 23.5% Internet penetration rate for the world.

Podcasting anywhere anytime tools may have a future!

Kudo’s to Tony Vincent at for finding this article reporting that students accessing podcasts rather than live lectures performed 9% better on the closing test. Lets be clear, this is only one study, but can it be believed? Perhaps these tools allowing learning to occur anywhere anytime do have a future…

21stC learning resources for ‘tech literacy’


Courtesy of eSchool News comes this fantastic collection of resources compiled ahead of the USA’s adding of ‘tech literacy’ to report cards from 2012.

Press release:
Our country’s global economic success in the future depends on K-20 graduates honing their “21st Century Skills.” Today’s tech-savvy generation has no shortage of user-friendly devices…and they know how to use them. But are they putting these tech skills to good use? You’ve heard of the 3Rs, but what about the 5Cs such as critical thinking, creative problem solving, communications, collaboration and cross-cultural relationship building?

Beginning in 2012, “tech literacy” will be added to our Nation’s Report Card. This means student proficiency in the application of technology will be measured for the first time. It isn’t just layering technology over traditional core competencies, though. It’s about totally integrating the two for success in an increasingly competitive world.

In preparation for the coming technology assessment, educational leaders are seeing heightened pressure to provide hard data on how well their students are progressing, how effective their teachers are, and how technology instruction is helping students solve real-world problems.

To help you prepare, eSchool News has compiled an extensive resource library that addresses all these issues and provides first-hand experience from educators who have successfully met the challenges. We invite you to access this free Educator Resource Center right now to find out how your students and teachers can pass the test on “21st Century Skills.”

– The eSchool News Editors


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Launch of

ANNOUNCEMENT: this blog is now part of the fantastic content and online community @
Head over there to discover a wealth of mobile learning content, and click below for the press release.

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SMART Table now available – but what’s it for?

Below (via Engadget) is some of the details of the SMART Table – the first multi-touch table of its kind available for education. While its obviously not a mobile technology, it does herald a further move towards natural digital interfaces pioneered by interactive whiteboards, the Nintendo Wii, and iPhone that are part of what we can expect from near-future ubiquitous technology.
My question to Education 2.0 practitioners is this – what’s this for? Of course I think I know, but the danger with every new tech is that it will be used simply to do ‘old things in new ways’, rather than new things. Cost is probably prohibitive for most schools at this stage, but don’t let that stop you thinking of ideas now! I remember when a laptop cost $3000+ …



via Engadget by Darren Murph on 2/11/09

We heard that the SMART Table would be ready for playtime in Spring of 2009, and here she is, a few months early. The kid-friendly multitouch table is now available for purchase in North America and the United Kingdom, and as expected, it’s being marketed towards educational institutions looking for new and exciting ways to help kids learn. The 230i (the only model currently offered) weighs in at 150 pounds and features an XGA DLP projector, integrated speakers, an inbuilt digital camera to track touches and multitouch capabilities courtesy of DViT (Digital Vision Touch) technology. We’re still not told just how much resellers will be charging, but we’ll stick to the “at least seven or eight grand” figure we heard when toying with one last October. Demo vid is after the break.

Continue reading SMART Table now available in North America and UK


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Mobile wireless eReader a sign of the ubiquitous future to come

I’m not a fan of Amazon’s Kindle eBook Reader. Not only is it not available in my country, but I feel the days of paying over US$350 for a device that only does one thing are long gone. Having said that, as en educator and former libary worker, I can see several direct eduational applications, especially with the just announced Kindle 2 having the ability to read out its content. Read a detailed overview (via Appleinsider).

Why I’m writing about it however is more because of what the Kindle 2′s other features don’t do – they don’t sync with a PC or laptop. Just as Google’s Android mobile operating system gets all its contact and calendar data directly from the cloud, so too does the Kindle 2 interface via 3G connection only with a home eBook site, or with other Kindle eReaders. This is the future of mobile, wireless devices and why they are leading towards a true ubiquitous, everware future. Even small mobile devices now have the ability to connect wirelessly to all the information etc they need to be fully functioning.

Are education departments setting up such networks to unleash the power of having this kind of computing available 24/7 from any location?

Digital mindmapping tools: my choices for connected visual organisers/presenting

I’ve had loads of fun lately I must admit just trying out mindmapping/ visual organiser software. So much so that I’ve started incorportating them into my workflows both at school and home/study, and have even written a 2000 word article describing my journey. While its under review for possible publication old-printed-style, I wanted to at least post my conclusions/choices here. That way you can cut right to the chase and start downloading!

I’ve grouped my findings under ‘for students’, ‘for educators’, and ‘for advanced users’. Enjoy:

I aim in this section to overview what I concluded was best for use in my school, using these handles:

                Free, or at least has a free ‘lite’ version

                Easy to access, use and install – conditions that are vital for time poor, technician-starved teachers

                A good import/export capability – after all the point was to share maps

For Students – while today’s students undoubtedly could master any of the software I encountered, the one I ultimately settled on for working with them was the simplest. (also its web address) was suggested by a discussion list colleague. It creates basic but good-looking maps, allows links and attachments, but best of all, is available anywhere there is a net connection (works exclusively online) and requires no registration or setup – teachers can just send students to the webpage and off they go. Students can get on with learning. Your maps can even be embedded into other websites. (Please note that does have a quick email signup to enable a few more advanced features if you so wish).


For Teachers – using digital visual organisers for your own planning and teaching probably requires software that will work when offline also – so for this category the one I chose was the free version of Xmind. Still fully-featured (it was a paid version until recently), it really jumped ahead of the others I was considering due to the fact that it works on PCs and Macs, AND has a special version for running exclusively from USB flash drives. I’ve now gone on to use this with our Head of Curriculum and Admin team to demonstrate what’s possible – and they were impressed, not just with the flash-looking end product, but with how powerful it could be for giving presentations to staff.


For advanced Users: That covers software for students, and for teachers/administrators who are new to digital mind mapping. However, beyond these tools there are some even more capable options that also plug into the possibilities of Web2.0 and the power of online/offline syncing. In this category, recommended for ‘power users’, or just any user that can count on regular internet connections and doesn’t mind registering for the (free) service – my choice was ‘Mindomo’. This was one that had been suggested through my learning network and I immediately found it very impressive. Not only was its import/export and graphical options very well presented, but it has a stunning ability work offline (using the Adobe ‘Air’ plug-in) while allowing you to use its extra sharing and collaboration features when you are online. Kind of like a combination of and Xmind actually!


Mobile, ubiquitous access to 1.5 million books

Any educators still doubting the power of mobile devices and web technologies really needs to see the following article. Not only is the around 1.5 million books that Google has scanned now available for searching and reading, but a new iPhone / iPod Touch / small-screen-optimized interface means it can now be done simply and easily from anywhere in the civilized (read cell-connected) world. Surely that must be useful for some students somewhere?
I was only discussing yesterday with my schools librarian about what he was planning to do about physical resources vs web-based (ie cheaper, less time and resource hungry) ones… link with more info:


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More great tips for Educators starting with Twitter

I’ve recently had the privelege of corresponding with several educators more experienced than I regarding micro-blogging service twitter (that has now become so much more!). There are a few things that it takes one a while to work out about twitter – but via the Oz-teachers discussion list Chris Betcher has posted this great great foreward (with links) to embarking on the ubiquitous network journey that is Twitter. Enjoy:

“I can understand the sceptics…  I was one for a long time.  I’ve also been getting incredible personal and professional value out of Twitter for quite a while now… So here’s a few thoughts that will help you get your head around it…

The first advice is this…
Don’t even think about evaluating the worth of Twitter until you are “following” at least 40-50 people.  Twitter works because it invites diversity and traffic.  If you only follow a few people, you’ll get neither and hence won’t really be able to judge whether it has any value for you or not.  So find someone you think is worth following, look at who they follow, add some people from their follow list and so on.  Don’t stop until you are following at least 40-50 people.  Yes, this will generate traffic.  Yes you will not be able to take it all in (well, maybe at 40 you still can, but not much beyond that)   That’s ok…  you don’t need to read every tweet.  As you add people to your follow list, you gradually get to a point where the messages flow by you much faster than you can deal with.  That’s ok too… it’s a smorgasbord, you don’t need to eat everything!  But seriously, if you try to “manage” Twitter by only following a few people you will never see the worth of it.  Trust me on this.

Second bit of advice…
Choose who you follow carefully…  take a look at their bio, see what they do. I tend to avoid the “web entrepreneurs”, “marketing gurus”, “social media analysts” and so on…  they tend to waffle about things I’m  not interested in.  I usually look for people who are educators, although I do add the occasional non-educator in order to keep some degree of diversity in the feed.  Too many people with all the same outlook on things tends to create an echo chamber where there is no diverse opinions or ideas.  So it’s good to have a few “ring ins”, just to mix things up a bit.  Once you find someone to follow, look at the type and frequency of messages…  you probably don’t want to follow someone who constantly tell you what they just had for breakfast or that they are getting their hair done, and you probably don’t want to follow someone who tweets every 3 minutes.  However, again, a little bit of diversity can be a good thing, and you’d be surprised at how often these seemingly trivial messages can help you, and to help put a human side to these people you follow.  You decide what works for you…

Third bit of advice…
Remember that your tweets go to everyone who follows you, and that they become part of the public record.  I wouldn’t, for example, tweet about my bad day and how much I hate my job.  I wouldn’t whine too much, swear too much, or do things that would generally have a negative impact on my “digital footprint”.  It also means that if you have followers from different parts of your life, they will all get the same tweets…  so your family (if they follow you) will read your tweets about education, and your educator colleagues will get to read your tweets about that family bbq last weekend.  This is not a problem, but you do need to think about how you structure your online social world.  
Learn to use the @ reply system and to send d direct messages to people.  Take some time to work out the Twitter culture… like all online communities, it most certainly has one.  And if you find a conversation starting to evolve in Twitter between yourself and someone else, and you are realising that it probably isn’t of real interest to the general Twitter community, take it to another forum to keep it going…  Skype is great for this.

Last bit of advice…
Get a Twitter client!  If you need to go back to the Twitter homepage all the time to check what’s happening, you will quickly lose interest.  So pick a good client Twitter app that will run in the background.  I used to like Twitterific, but Twhirl is my current  favourite. Tweetdeck is pretty good too, though probably better once you get the hang of Twitter. There are plenty of Twitter tools for mobile devices too, like Twinkle, Tweetie and Twibble.  Trying to take Twitter seriously without one of these tools is just making life hard for yourself.  Get one.

Finally, remember that Twitter is about “small pieces loosely joined”, which is really how the world works in real life.  In real life, it is the tiny, seemingly insignificant social connections that so often direct our lives in some surprisingly major ways.  Some of you have jobs that you work in because your mother’s friend’s daughter knew a guy who’s dentist sent her son to a school that was thinking about employing an extra teacher, and because of these loosely joined social connection, you ended up with a job.  Perhaps you met your husband because you went for a drink with a friend one night and bumped into a person who knew someone you went to school with and his best mate had a brother that you were introduced to and eventually married. Isn’t this really how life works?  You know it is!  Think about your life, and identify all the little serendipitous things that happened to you because you just happened to be in the right place at the right time, talking to the right person.  The more connections you make, the more likelihood you have of these “small pieces loosely joined” actually leading you into things that you never knew you wanted and that you never, ever could have predicted.  That’s what Twitter does.

Still a sceptic?  Trust me and just try it.  Not by following three people and never looking at it again, but by REALLY trying it, with lots of people in your network, and for at least 6 months.  Then meet me back here in 6 months and tell me some of the amazing stories that happened to you because of Twitter.


PS: for what it’s worth, here are a couple of blog posts I’ve written about Twitter that may give you some food for thought…

New theory from Marc Prensky: Digital Wisdom

While it has often proved inadequate when pushed too far, Marc Prensky’s 2001 positing of Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives has given the world the terms needed to start many a technology in education debate. Now almost a decade later, Prensky has written a new article on where citizenship of a digital society now places us.

I’ll be honest, his talk of implants and controlling games with our minds does seem a little sci-fi – not even the characters in Battlestar Galactica can do that! As he states however, these technologies are not way off in the future, but are currently being trialled and deployed. So what will this mean for life as homo sapiens? What effect will all the automation available to us even now on a day to day basis have on our cognition? And where will those without access to such enhancements be left?

This is a significant article from one of Educational technology’s leading thinkers. Read the article at Innovate HERE (requires a simple registration).

Technology can help every learner

As a learning Intervention and Support teacher, my adventures in technology have already shown me just how powerful digital technology can be in enabling differentiated learning. This is where curriculum and learning experiences are modified and made specific to individuals learning needs. Step one of course is to know what these needs are – technology helps in the collation and storage/accessing diagnostic data immensely. Being able to call up student progress data on my iPhone from anywhere in my school enables just-in-time conversations to take place with teachers and aides – and is my own way of demo-ing the possibilities of mobile and ubiquitous computing at my site.

Now eSchool News is reporting on an International Society for Education and Technology webinar from last week that provided examples of how technology can provide this same kind of support – but directly with students.  From the article:

According to the presenters, teachers can differentiate four elements of instruction: content, process, product, and learning environment. They also can differentiate instruction based on student traits, such as readiness, learning profile, interest, and affect.

Finally, educators can differentiate instruction through a range of instructional and management strategies, including software, video streaming, and the web.

“Above all, DI should be used to promote 21st-century skills,” said Smith. “This includes digital-age literacy, inventive thinking, effective communication, and high productivity. A mastery of these skills will lead to student achievement.”

Head over HERE to read the full piece.