The growing buzz we were generating at BETT soon made us forget our tired feet and sore backs as our stand became swamped almost from the moment the doors opened. So forgive the ebullience of this post: we’re just having so much fun.

What surprised us (we all thought beforehand that we’d be lucky to get any visitors to our stand beyond people asking if we knew where the toilets were) was how many people deliberately sought us out. We’ve never shown ode publicly before and we assumed no one knew who we are; we had hoped to catch people’s passing attention at best.

Hmmm, that was a little naive in hindsight.

People who had read the blog, heard about us on the industry grapevine or seen our entry in the BETT literature, liked what they saw, made a bee line for us and were excited by what we are trying to do.

Some simply wanted to say “keep up the good work, I hope it succeeds”, others wanted to quiz us on technical details or put faces to names.

Others wanted to see what had only existed as words on a blog in 2007, others still brought friends and colleagues to the stand as they had seen some potential and wanted to open their eyes too.

It was a very eclectic mix of visitors, both private and public sector, and we loved speaking to you all. There’s no greater buzz for me than trying to sell something that I am passionate about.

And with ode, during the demo, there was ALWAYS a moment when they grinned. It might have been :

  • when they were informed all content in ode is NC Specifier tagged thus making it easy to find.
  • when they saw the playlist function.
  • when they saw a video streaming or an audio file playing directly from their ode library.
  • that content would be peer reviewed.
  • the idea that we would let users reduce what ode can do to make their experience as simple, direct or complex as they wanted.
  • when they saw how small and cute our business cards were.

Without naming names, one LEA Elearning Director said until he saw ode he was worried BETT would be yet another waste of time and that it has “made his show”.

Another Head of ICT commented that he was sick of paying £400 for a CDROM and his teachers only using £40 worth and that it was hugely encouraging finding a platform that would allow his school to buy only the £40 worth, thus freeing up funds for content from other brands.

We also had a representative from the Malaysian Government swing by. He loved the idea and wants to discuss integrating ode and it’s content partners products into Malaysian schools which adds an exciting new global dimension to what ode can do.

In fact we spoke to many international visitors today – BETT is probably the biggest dedicated elearning show in the world.

A Managing Director from a Greek educational publisher wants to discuss localising ode for the Greek market. Local versions of ode depend on the rights over content for this type of sale and local curriculum tagging but we fully intend to have ODE Greece, ODE France, ODE Spain, ODE US and so on. Eventually, of course. With all the technology/platform partners we could have gathered today we wouldn’t get anything real out the door until 3008.

By removing physical distribution as an issue (all the product on ode is virtual) publishers large and small can enter markets all over the world overnight at little cost. Which can only be empowering for any teacher in any classroom when the range of trusted professional content available at affordable micropayment level is only a few clicks away 24/7/365.

It is too soon to mention every supplier we spoke to although I will do a proper update next week when I have all the details from all 4 days.

But what’s the big announcement, I imagine I hear you cry?

We signed a deal yesterday with the UK’s biggest online teacher community, Schoolzone, who are now our “Official Community Partners”.

In a nutshell we will be integrating the ode shop into the Schoolzone website, so their 100,000 registered teacher users will have immediate access to all the fantastic disaggregated content from ode at the click of a mouse. We are really excited about this collaboration and are really happy to be working with the great team at Schoolzone over the next year. And I got to swan around the Press Office shouting “Hold the front page!” too. More news on this venture as it happens.

The official PR statement below:

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Pearson Education and Schoolzone announce partnership deal in revolutionary web-based personalised e-learning store

Bett, London, 10 January 2008 – Pearson Education today announces that it has linked up with Schoolzone to be its exclusive schools community partner for ode, the next generation, free-access content store for educators.

Ode, backed by Pearson, is working with more than 20 education content publishers to provide teachers with the means to buy, download and create personalised lessons. The platform will sell ‘little bits of learning’ on a pay-as-you-go basis, allowing teachers to buy or rent individual pieces of content on demand – videos, audio files, worksheets, presentations, exam papers, interactive tools, animated games and so on – the list could be endless.

Chris Bradford, ode co-founder, says: ‘ode is a platform, rather like Amazon or iTunes, that will give educators unparalleled access to digital assets. We’re building to launch in stages throughout 2008 to bring together a community of educators and content providers. The partnership with Schoolzone is a significant phase in the development of ode.’

Elizabeth Collie, Commercial Director of Schoolzone, says: ‘Schoolzone is the natural home for content stores like ode. Embedding the service into our site will enhance and enrich our community offering, while providing ode with a ready-made community of educators looking for content.’

Ends

About Pearson Education

Educating 100 million people worldwide and with offices in over 30 countries, Pearson Education is the global leader in education publishing, providing scientifically research-based print and digital programmes to help students of all ages learn at their own pace, in their own way.

In the UK, Pearson Education is the largest and fastest-growing educational publisher. It offers leading-edge teaching and learning resources under the BBC Active, Causeway Books, Edexcel Learning, Ginn, Heinemann, KnowledgeBox, Longman, Payne-Gallway, Pearson Phoenix and Rigby names.

About Schoolzone

Schoolzone is the UK’s busiest online education community, with a strong reputation for online teacher and curriculum focused search engines, peer group reviews and evaluations of digital content. The site receives over 30,000 unique users a day, making it one of the UK’s most used educational sites, as well as the biggest – it lists 41,000 educational sites reviewed by teachers, 6,000 events and organisers, 35,000 schools and colleges, 6,200 educational suppliers and many, many thousands of educational products and services.

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More news next week about Friday and Saturday at BETT and James and Ed’s attendance at the cutting edge Teachermeet at BETT tonight.

We are contributing towards their pizza extravaganza. This is the first thing we’ve ever sponsored officially which makes us feel all grown up but to get our idea in front of so many ICT/elearning thinkers who are doing some brilliant and envelope pushing things is an honour and well worth it.

Have fun, guys.

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