Project Gutenberg

February 9, 2011

Project Gutenberg is the place where you can download over 33,000 free ebooks to read on your PC, iPad, Kindle, Sony Reader, iPhone, Android or other portable device.

Those are high quality ebooks:  ebooks  previously published by bona fide publishers and digitized by us with the help of thousands of volunteers.  Over fifty languages are represented, including Irish.

All  ebooks can be freely downloaded: Choose between ePub, Kindle, HTML and simple text formats.

The aim of the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation is to:

  • Preserve literary and other intellectual works, and
  • Make copies of (or products based on) those works available free of charge or at the lowest possible cost to the people of the United States and the rest of the world.

An invaluable and free resource for all teachers and students of literature.


Bridging the Literacy Gap

December 8, 2010

There’s no denying that the latest findings from Pisa 2009 with regard to growing literacy deficits within the OECD countries is a cause for concern, not least for the Irish Education system. Although broadly in the same bracket as Sweden, US, Germany and France, Ireland has fallen from 5th to 17th position. 

The suggestion that newer technologies have overtaken  and (in some cases) displaced a more traditional understanding of basic literacy skills may well be tested in the forthcoming volume of the PISA Report (volume VI, June 2011)  Students on Line: Reading and Using Digital Information.

Initial research, however, points to a synergy in the collaborative activity between literacy and technology.  Among the education technologies which support the development of reading and writing skills are for example audiobooks, e-books and online texts as well as the use of social networking sites to foster writing skills.  

It bears repeating that the potential of new technologies for learning is likely to be found not in the technologies themselves but rather in the way in which these technologies are used as tools for learning.  In other words, what it comes down to is the technical expertise of teachers and other facilitators of the learning process.

Children who blog, text or use social networking websites have better writing skills than those who do not, according to research from the National Literacy Trust.

A survey of 3001 children aged 9-16 found:

• 24% had their own blog
• 82% sent text messages at least once a month.
• 73% used instant messaging services to chat online with friends.
• However, 77% still put real pen to paper to write notes in class or do their school homework.
• Of the children who neither blogged nor used social network sites, 47% rated their writing as “good” or “very good”, while 61% of the bloggers and 56% of the social networkers said the same.

The research shows a strong correlation between kids using technology and wider patterns of reading and writing. Far from damaging literacy, the results show that the more forms of communications children use the stronger their core literary skills.