Augmented reality in children’s books increases engagement translating into better learning outcomes.

53274772_384802738767478_1285140844453560320_nThe popularity of technologies like augmented reality is increasing as more publishers use them to engage young readers. In the US, only 38% of 4th graders and 19% of 8th graders report reading on their own time, and technologies such as AR are seen as a way to reach a generation which grew up constantly interacting with screens and digital content.

This also forms part of a broader shift towards empowering readers and engaging them in the creative process. A recent World Economic Forum report listed creativity as one of the top skills needed for workers to thrive by 2020, and such interactive technologies are key in accomplishing this.

Augmented reality is far from a new phenomenon, however, and many in the publishing industry have been investing in this area for some time.

Publishers in this space tend to agree that this technology has the potential to combine the best aspects of both digital and print. The personalized books 3.2.1 Publishing creates are printed and then coupled with a 3D augmented reality experience that can be accessed through a free mobile app on any smartphone or tablet.

We believe it is not about what AR as a technology can achieve—it’s about the way it is leveraged in the book so that it hooks and enriches the young reader’s experience in ways that a normal book could not.

It should address specific pain points perceived by those young readers, who tend to enjoy books in a different way and want to get involved, not just from a reading perspective. That is where AR can provide additional depth and richness to make reading more fun, interesting and engaging.

UK Lebanon Tech Hub conducted market research amongst a sample of parents aged from 25 to 45 to learn what factors might appeal to them and encourage their adoption of AR technology.

The surveys and interviews found that while the vast majority – over 93% – of parents habitually used devices like smartphones, tablets or PCs themselves (and often let their children use them), they were often concerned that the content their children consumed should be both educational and interactive. While many viewed AR as a gimmick, once they were introduced to it they often perceived it as a potential way of improving their children’s short attention span and enhancing interaction with them.

Many believe that augmented reality and virtual reality work on reading because it uses multimodal learning, meaning we are using more than one sense in the brain to learn.  Gerald Gentemann founder of 3.2.1. Publishing explains, “AR creates a strong emotional tie for young readers, like they are attached to the book and part of the story. If you watch any kid read with augmented reality it’s as if they are playing a game.”

Two PhD researchers at the University of Central Florida, Maria C. R. Harrington and Emily K. Johnson investigated how augmented reality has the potential to foster engagement, and their preliminary results chime with a recent article in Publishing Research Quarterly which notes the technology’s positive impact on literacy and overall learning effectiveness through cognitive attainment: ”Augmented technology contributes to increasing engagement, invites participation, and develops appreciation of the context. Augmented books are proposed to incentivize curiosity, facilitate the interpretation of text and illustrations, and provide a learning tool that relates to the reader,” the paper concludes.

In an article published in the Computers & Education Journal, however, researchers examining the potential of AR for education warned that while the technology did offer many new learning opportunities, it also presented significant challenges. It’s more productive, instead, to approach AR as a concept rather than a technology.

Dean Velez founder of Anvel Studios one the pioneers in VR and AR edutainment believes this is the approach publishers are adopting, ensuring that their titles are “future proof” by designing engaging experiences anchored on great stories. Velez concludes, “If you have robust content, it will engage readers whether they’re viewing it on a smartphone, through smart glasses…or using whatever new device comes next.”

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The CEO of Avon Jung Booted

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Andrea Jung, the longest serving female CEO at a major American corporation, will soon be out of a job. It was announced today that Avon Products is launching an executive search to replace its 12-year chairman and chief. Once found, Jung will step aside.

The Wall Street Journal today notes that it is very unusual for a company to publicize a CEO search while the current one remains, but also points out that the 125-year-old beauty company has seen its stock drop by 45% this year. She will remain and help the board recruit her replacement next year.
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While 2011 started off well for Avon, as Jung cheered first-quarter profit that nearly tripled from a year ago and a growing independent sales force of 6.5 million representatives, a third quarter earnings report said sales targets would be unattainable and admitted two ongoing SEC inquiries as problematic.

The three-year probe into an alleged bribery of foreign officials has already caused the firing of four Avon executives and increased investor concern. When approached earlier this year, Jung wouldn’t comment on the matter.

I am always curious about these issues. Having lived all over the world and knowing the types of markets where AVON is trying to expand, I am sure that bribery is part of the everyday way to do business in some of those countries at very high levels. It is a reality that many US corporations face abroad.

This year has shaken up the small percentage 3% of women in the high-powered executive ranks. Yahoo‘s Carol Bartz was fired over the phone just months ago, on the same day that Sallie Krawcheck left her post at Bank of America. Meanwhile, IBM hired its first female chief, Ginni Rometty, in its 100-year history, and Meg Whitman returned to the spotlight as CEO of HP.

Jung, 53, has been a longtime champion of women’s empowerment, often emphasizing Avon’s role in offering entrepreneurial employment opportunities to the 95% female reps who sell its products. She is also one of the few female faces on the boards of Apple and General Electric. She was ranked at No. 64 this year on the FORBES list of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women.

New Reality Show on Bravo Offers “Real” Tips for Job Hunting.

There is a new reality show on Bravo TV called the Headhuntress. While most reality shows are watched for pure entertainment or perhaps I should say watched out of morbid curiosity this show actually offers some sound job hunting advice, especially during these tough economic times.
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Here are ten tips that the Headhuntress recommends on her website.

1. Your resume is your calling card. Trim It Down, Tone It Up, Get It In Shape.

The Headhuntress says: Your resume is not your life story. It is a tool to get you the interview. If something isn’t absolutely essential to the role you are applying for, take it off of your resume. Adjust your points to fit the position you are applying for. Grab the requirements and experience directly from the job description and use strong verbs “created”, “managed”, “produced” etc. to prove you’ve got exactly the chops they are looking for.

2. Make an appointment with yourself.

The Headhuntress says: Even a perfect resume isn’t any good if it never gets seen. Make an appointment with yourself to send out at least two resumes every day. I know what you are thinking. Some days you won’t feel like it. But it will become a habit over time if you keep at it. And I promise you will be motivated when you see your phone ringing off the hook.

3. Go Google yourself. Seriously.

The Headhuntress says: If you haven’t done a search on yourself in the last 30 days to see what comes up, prepare for an ambush. I guarantee the person sitting across the interview table knows all about that Facebook status you posted at 2am last Saturday. If you can help it, keep your personal business off of the internet. And don’t leave anything to chance — manage your online rep like it’s your job. (Because it is.)

4. Have a great elevator pitch.

The Headhuntress says: An elevator pitch is the 30 second personal pitch that tells someone who you are and what kind of position you are looking for. Polish this pitch so you can recite it anytime, anywhere. You never know when you may need it. We use this approach everyday in advertising.

5. Dress the part.

The Headhuntress says: If you’ve got an interview, do yourself a favor and don’t screw it up by “going sexy” unless that is expressly required for the position. (Here’s a hint: it’s not.) Dress for the job you WANT. They’ll develop their impression of you within minutes of you walking in, so DON’T give them any opportunity to write you off before you’ve finished your 30 second elevator pitch.

6. Get to know the Spin Cycle.

The Headhuntress says: Do you have some professional dirty laundry? Don’t hide it. Whether you have worked in the adult entertainment industry or were fired for a personal Tweet… Address these things before they find out about it so you can spin it to your advantage. What should you keep to yourself? Physical or mental illnesses, as long as it the situation is resolved and won’t affect performance, is none of their business and beside the point.
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7. Get to work… on building your network.

The Headhuntress says: It is true that amazing jobs can be won through the standard application process. But it can also be about who you know. 75% of people find a job through someone they know. Pay attention to building an outstanding reputation not only with potential employers, but also with EVERYONE you work with now or have ever met…(what, you didn’t guess that your workout buddy’s uncle was a hiring manager at Facebook?) Start combing your “Happy Holidays” list – I guarantee that you know someone who could be the magic link in your career.

8. You’ve got the technology, use it.

The Headhuntress says: You know that smart phone in your pocket? It is a lethal weapon against other job-seekers competing for the positions you want. Speed and response are some of the most powerful tools recruiters (and YOU) have for scouting career opportunities. Emails, Job listing feeds, Linked In, even job alerts on Twitter…there is no excuse not to use them. Employers are posting jobs online and assessing applicants often within hours. Get online and get ready!

9. Follow up, but make it appropriate.

The Headhuntress says: Follow up after a conversation or an interview but don’t become a nuisance or they will rename you “Crazy – Don’t Answer” on their caller ID. You do want to stay on their radar, but be careful not to be too persistent. It shows them you are selfish and don’t respect their time. The casual follow up is good form. Turning into a stalker is not.

10. Excuse Me? Drop the excuses.

The Headhuntress says: I hear the same excuses all the time: “I CAN’T get a job because the market is so hard,” Excuses are great…if you want to have exactly the situation you currently have. But you know what? I just placed someone in your dream role. The jobs are OUT THERE if you are willing to work for them. “I can’t” may be doing a great job protecting your ego, but ignoring the hard truth about what YOU are doing wrong will prevent you from having the career that will change your whole life.

Rock The Vote Goes Mobile Again

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Nonprofit Rock the Vote is increasing its focus on mobile for the upcoming primary season and into the 2012 presidential election as a way to deliver important content to hard-to-reach consumers and drive ongoing engagement. 

Rock the Vote, which focuses on empowering the young in the political process, began using mobile in 2008 with the sole goal of building a mobile opt-in database. However, as mobile use as grown in the past four years, the organization is now ramping up its efforts and using mobile polling, at live events and to drive voter registration and turnout.

“We use mobile in all of the registration and election Get Out the Vote pushes that we do,” said Chrissy Faesen, vice president of marketing and communications at Rock the Vote, Washington.

“It is very core to our program strategies and is integrated throughout out all of our work,” she said.

Mobile drives turnouts

Rock the Vote focuses on young people 18 to 29 years old, with a heavy concentration on young Hispanics, African-Americans, women and those who are underrepresented in the larger political process.

“Our ability to reach them at times is tough but they all have mobile phones,” Ms. Faesen said.

“Mobile is an easy way to communicate with them,” she said. “We can send a text message with a link to an app where they can register to vote.”

The results are promising in terms of mobile’s ability to drive voter turnout.

“Mobile is crucial to our turnout campaigns,” Ms. Faesen said.

“We’ve done testing at primaries and we can actually see a 2-4 percent increase in turnouts on election days if we send a text the day before,” she said.

Rock the Vote is also tapping its mobile database for opinion polls.
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The mobile opinion polls are a quick and easy way for Rock the Vote to generate content that can be used on its Web site and in its publications.

Starting in August, Rock The Vote worked with Mozes to power a coupon code campaign that gave its Facebook fans the chance to gain immediate access to Spotify without having to wait for an invite. The polling effort incorporated Mozes’ data capture abilities, asking participants to text their email address in order to receive their Spotify link and answer questions about issues, which were posted online.

“Rock the Vote is recognizing that if want to reach younger audiences, anything mobile is going to get a higher recognition,” said Dorrian Porter, CEO at Mozes.

My American business hero died today…Steve Jobs

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Steve Jobs the innovative co-founder of Apple who transformed personal use of technology as well as entire industries with products such as the iPod, iPad, iPhone, Macintosh computer and the iTunes music store, died today.

The iconic American CEO, whose impact many have compared to auto magnate Henry Ford and Walt Disney— whom Jobs openly admired — abruptly stepped down from his position as CEO of Apple in August because of health concerns. He had been suffering from pancreatic cancer.

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, a former Apple board member, called Jobs the best CEO of the past 50 years — perhaps 100 years. I would agree…he has become almost a cult hero among all of us in the tech community.

A seminal business and technology leader, Jobs’ success flowed from a relentless focus on making products that were easy and intuitive for the average consumer to use. His products were characterized by groundbreaking design and style that, along with their technological usefulness, made them objects of intense desire by consumers around the world.

He was known as a demanding, mercurial boss and an almost mystical figure in technology circles as well as American popular culture. Author and business consultant Jim Collins once called Jobs the “Beethoven of business.” He was one of the figures who made Silicon Valley the capital of technological innovation and related venture capital fortunes.
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He revolutionized the computing business with Mac, he revolutionized the music business with iTunes and he turned the telephony business on its ear with the iPhone. He reinvented several businesses too, Pixar gave animation a whole new life. A fact that I just learned today as a retailer, Apple Stores are the most profitable per square foot retail spaces in the world.

And finally as a marketer…my former ad agency network produced the advertising for Apple and without a doubt created some of the most outstanding commercials in the industry for the Apple Brand. Who does remember the famous 1984 Super Bowl commercial or the iconic “think Different” campaign.
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Jobs’ work at Apple and other projects made him a fortune estimated by Forbes magazine in 2011 at $8.3 billion. He was No.110 on Forbes’ list of billionaires worldwide and No.34 in the United States, as of the magazine’s March 2011 estimates.

It will surely be missed and everyone has to wonder who will lead Apple not just in the Boardroom but in the “kitchen” where the ideas are created.

Pope’s iPhone App

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The Pope’s iPhone application seems like an extension of his YouTube channel, used mostly as a broadcast medium for the Pope’s messages:

“The H2O news application for the iPhone and iPod Touch brings you timely, insightful news about the life of the Church in the world. In collaboration with the Vatican Television Center and Vatican Radio,H2O news connects you with video and audio news from the Vatican.”

As I wrote back when the Vatican joined YouTube, “launching a channel may be a positive first step, but new media is not a broadcast medium: it’s an interactive one.” The new applications seem like a lot more broadcasting, but the ability to share things with friends through the Facebook app is a move in the right direction, and could help expand the online community that the Church clearly sees as an opportunity to bring its members closer together.