We are excited to announce that from today, you can access the GDL Library with Google Assistant, using only your voice to interact with the GDL. This is a totally new way for our users to access our platform, giving users the option of asking the assistant to search for books and read books aloud.
How does it work?
If you open your Google Assistant on your phone and say “GDL Library” in any sentence, you will start a conversation with the GDL. For example, you can say: “Can I speak to the GDL Library?”
The assistant can help you search for books and read them for you. For example:
To search for a book just name the topic of the book, for example, “dog” or “list books about dogs”.
If you want the assistant to read for you, simply use the word “read”. For example “read a book about dogs” or “please read the book Come Back, Cat!”. The assistant will read books out loud and show the illustrations for the relevant page on your screen.
You can also ask the Google Assistant to list books on level 1 -4.
To exit the conversation, simply say “Goodbye GDL”.
Over the last few months, the GDL team has been experimenting with AI, or more specifically, integrating the GDL platform with different AI and cognitive services. We are not ourselves developing AI components as this is not our primary focus as a project, but we are integrating the GDL and the open educational resources in our platform with AI components that offer APIs.
We are using AI only when it helps us reach our project goals, and in this initial phase, we think AI can help us reach new users on emerging platforms and enhance the quality of content and metadata.
Image-processing algorithms(only in planning) to smartly identify, caption, index and ad alt-text to pictures. In this case, we might use MS Cognitive Services or Cloudinary.
Can I speak to the GDL?
The first real output from our work will be an integration with Google Voice Assistant to facilitate a simple conversation between the end-user and the GDL platform. This will allow users to ask the Google Assistant to read books, search for books and list books from different levels, only using their voice in a “conversation” with the GDL.
The GDL app on Google Assistant will be launched with support for English in the first release later this month.
Platform agnostic and vendor independent
The Global Digital Library is focusing on developing a platform that provides access to free, high-quality, early grade reading resources in languages that children use and understand. Our technical development is focused on creating a user-friendly system that requires little or no technical skills for users to access books and games on the platform.
For us, it is crucial that the GDL is platform and device agnostic in the sense that we create a service that will be accessible for any user on most common platforms and devices like smartphones, computers, wearables or tablets. Wearables are not in any way our focus, but more an example that we must create content today that we expect will be used on devices in the future that we have not yet seen in the market. We also work to ensure that the content and core reading experience from the GDL platform is provided totally vendor independent.
In the GDL project, we do this by:
Developing the core part of our platform web(HTML), and not platform-dependent apps for iOS or Android
All content is accessible through APIs and an OPDS feed, allowing others to develop their own services with GDL content
Integrate with platforms like Google Assistant and Microsoft cognitive services without being locked to these platforms.
The event convenes education and technology experts from around the world. Some 1000 participants have already registered for the event that provides the educational community, governments and other stakeholders a unique opportunity to discuss the role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for sustainable development.
The Global Digital Library – prototyping new reading experiences with AI
The GDL project will host a workshop and speak at the conference. We are looking forward to seeing you all there.
Time: March 6, 16.30-18.00.
Place: Room 3 at the conference venue
In this workshop the Global Digital Library team will demonstrate how artificial intelligence (AI) can be used to create new reading experiences, using Google Voice Assistant to facilitate a simple conversation between the end-user and the GDL platform.
The workshop will also include a live demo of the GDL platform and its localization capabilities, and participants will get the opportunity to test the translation of books on the platform.
The workshop will be organized in collaboration with the Global Book Alliance and All Children Reading. The Global Book Alliance (GBA) was created with the aim of ensuring that all children can access the books they need to learn to read by 2030. Alliance Steering Committee members include major global education stakeholders such as UNICEF, UNESCO, USAID, DFID, Norad and the World Bank.
Leading the charge to ensure greater access to reading materials is the GBA’s flagship initiative, theGlobal Digital Library (GDL). The GDL collects existing high quality open educational reading resources, and makes them available on web, mobile and for print. The GDL offers resources in 23 languages, and by end 2020 the platform will offer at least 100 languages. The GDL facilitates translation and localization of GDL-resources to more than 300 languages.
Agenda for the workshop:
Welcome, Liv Marte Nordhaug – Norad
Demo of the GDL platform, Christer Gundersen – GDL
Demo of translation
Workshop participants trying out translation into their languages.
The GDL platform was launched on April 26 2018, with an initial total of 900 resources in 15 languages, including Kiswahili (Kenyan), Bangla, Hausa and 7 Ethiopian languages. The launch itself was a success, with various stakeholders showing great excitement around all the opportunities the GDL can represent in Ethiopia and elsewhere. The launch was planned and executed with the help from USAID Ethiopia and UNESCO-IICBA.
The GDL team is currently planning user testing in Kenya and Bangladesh in July and workshops in Cambodia in September 2018, in conjunction with/or leading up to World Literacy Day on September 8.
The design of the GDL has been based on a “mobile first” principle. At the time of the launch, the GDL platform included a website and a native app for Android, providing users with the option of:
Reading the titles on their mobile, tablet or computer
Downloading for print
Downloading the mobile app, providing the user with extended offline capabilities
Translating titles into more than 300 languages
Quality assurance (QA) standards
The GDL team has developed quality assurance (QA) standards for different content categories, in close cooperation with reading experts from USAID, GPE and URC. The standards have been approved by the GBA Steering Committee. These QA standards serve as minimum criteria for the acceptance or rejection of various types of reading books submitted for upload to the GDL. In terms of responsibility for verifying that content quality is in accordance with these standards, URC has the lead on this for Classroom resources, whereas the GDL-team organizes this for Library resources.
The GDL project will follow the principles of universal design and accessibility and will have a strong focus on making all content generally accessible, including for those with print disabilities, i.e. blindness or low vision, severe dyslexia, or mobility impairment.
Web accessibility refers to the inclusive practice of removing barriers that prevent interaction with, or access to websites, by people with disabilities. When sites are correctly designed, developed and edited, all users have equal access to information and functionality.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 covers a wide range of recommendations for making web content more accessible. GDL will follow these guidelines to secure that the content is accessible for all users. By following these guidelines one will also often make the web content more usable in general.
The GDL platform is compliant to all WCAG 2.0 AA requirements and more than 15 of the AAA requirements.
Some of the titles that are part of the initial launch will not be WCAG 2.0 AA compliant, mostly because they lack alt-text for the pictures and illustrations.
User testing for accessibility
Successful digital initiatives are rooted in an understanding of user characteristics, needs, and challenges. User-centered design — also referred to as design thinking or human-centered design — starts with getting to know the people you are designing for through conversation, observation, and co-creation. Ensuring that our services are accessible for all has been an important part of the GDL project and we have engaged with users that have vision impairment.
The workshop is co-organized by The Norwegian Agency and for Development Cooperation (Norad) and the Global Book Alliance on March 27th, 2018 from 14:00-15:30 pm in Room 9 and will take place during the Mobile Learning Week (MLW) at UNESCO, Paris, France.
The GDL is now in its final stage of development and user testing before it will be launched in late April. At the time of launch, the Library will hold reading resources in approximately 10 languages, whereas by the end of 2020 this will have been expanded to more than 100 languages. The GDL will also facilitate translation and localization of these resources to more than 300 languages. All resources available on the GDL will have been quality assured in accordance with quality standards set by the Global Book Alliance.
In this workshop, we will give an introduction to the project, a live demo of the platform, and we will go through GDLcontent categories andquality assurance standards.
Agenda for the workshop:
Introduction to the Global Book Alliance, Brooke Estes
Introduction to the Global Digital Library, Liv Marte Nordhaug
Demo of GDL web and native app, Christer Gundersen
Demo of translation and localization features, Christer Gundersen
Panel discussion with collaborating partners:
Asia Foundation, Kyle Barker
If you are attending the conference, we are looking forward to seeing you at our workshop. Please confirm your participation by 17th March 2018, by filling out the registration form.
The main objective of the user test in Ethiopia and Cambodia has been to discover weaknesses in the GDL web application. The focus has been on both technical weaknesses and on usability issues. The tests have been performed on both wireless networks and cellular networks in Addis Ababa and in a rural area outside of Phnom Penh Cambodia. Detailed descriptions have been given to test participants on what step to execute. The tests have been recorded using Lookback (https://lookback.io) where both, sound, screen, clicks and face has been recorded.
User test highlights
1) Navigation to find book works well
All test subjects were successful in finding books and navigating to books on their language. All test subject was successful in navigating by using the menu. Som subjects did not understand the meaning of the menu icon.
2) Reading book
All test subjects were able to find a book and start reading by clicking the read button. All test subjects were able to navigate pages using click or swipe. All subject understood how many pages they had read and how many pages were remaining.
3) Close book
Nearly all test subjects had difficulties finding the close-book feature. In addition to this, the subjects who found the button had a difficulty clicking on it due to its positioning and size.
4) Download book
The test subjects did not understand the difference between ePub and PDF. Most of the test subjects selected PDF both for print and for reading later.
5) Load more
Users did not notice the load more feature.
6) Finding a specific book
When users were instructed to find a specific book, it was clear that a need for a search-function is essential.
The Global Digital Library has a clear strategy of sharing all system code under a free license. This will make it possible for other projects to reuse our technology to create new solutions. We are also developing APIs to give easy access to all GDL resources.
For the GDL project it is just as also important to reuse technology and components from other open source and open content projects, to make our platform better and easier to develop.
Material Design from Google
The UX/design on the GDL platform is based on the principles of Google’s Material Design, with heavy inspiration of well known layouts from large e-book providers and SoMe-platforms. Material Design makes more liberal use of grid-based layouts, responsive animations and transitions, padding, and depth effects such as lighting and shadows. GDL makes use of system fonts on the platform, to make the experience as smooth as possible for the user, and without need to load external fonts.
Icons are all taken from Google Material Icons, Google’s open source icon library (Apache License Version 2.0). They are lightweight, easy to use, and well tested for over all use. The icons are also available as a git repository, making it even easier for developers to customize, share, and re-use.
App from New York Public Library
The Global Digital Library app for Android have reused the source code for the New York Public Library’s app SimplyE and used it as a starting point for our own app. We have removed the parts we didn’t need, like support for DRM, lending books, and support for multiple user accounts (for different libraries).
We have mostly kept the same flow of the user interface, but we have rewritten all the screens to match our own design. After user testing the original app from NYPL in Nepal we have also made some important changes to the user interface, particularly focusing on how the user interacts with the app on download and reading the actual ebook.