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John Davitt has included a short paragraph and link to ode in his BETT 2008 review in the Guardian Educational Link supplement.

I hope he doesn’t mind me quoting what he says about us as we’re all glowing with pride here, even if it is only a small mention, as it is alongside some august company.

Little bits of learning

Another company that may have caught the spirit of the times is Ode with its strapline “little bits of learning”. While most other suppliers are working on systems encompassing everything, Ode simply hopes to tag and share small and varied learning resources by working with content holders (blog.odeworld.co.uk).

http://education.guardian.co.uk/link/story/0,,2266345,00.html

In the article itself John has actually posted a fairly damning revue of the BETT trade show this year. The major issue as he sees it is the link between government “interference”…

“The heavy-handed compulsion for all schools to have a learning platform by the end of the year has removed the chance for schools to try some different approaches to find what suits them best.”

…and how the industry reacts e.g. the overwhelming dominance of giant VLE/LMS systems that attempt to provide all singing all dancing solutions.

By fixating on these tools he argues that the smaller more interesting elearning products are squeezed out. Potentially to the detriment of the teachers themselves.

It’s always been a bit of an in joke at each BETT I’ve attended (and I’ve been going for years now) that most of the people you might speak to if you are manning a stand are likely to be industry people who have faked their badges. John is saying we should face up to it.

“Perhaps it’s time to stop talking up Bett as something with mass-classroom appeal and accept it’s become more of a business-to-business event.”

Well, we had a blast running our stand and you might have read about it on our blog, but I guess that’s because we weren’t actually there to speak to teachers as such. We were looking for potential content partners to sell their content through the ode platform. We were quite open about that. We did speak to many teachers though as they too seemed to be intrigued by what we’re trying to do.

(And because they now have these big empty VLEs and nothing to go in them).

BETT was good to us this year but will have our own stand next year? Nope and, currently, neither will the BBC. We do hope to attend Teachmeet 09 if we can, rightly highlighted by John as one of the true stars of BETT 08.

If we do our job right and build a worthy kick ass platform for education that our users love and evangelise we simply won’t need to. Especially if BETT keeps leaning further and further towards B2B.

Also when I see EMAPs bland corporate response at the end of John’s article where they seemed to claim Teachmeet was their idea “…building on the success of the TeachMeet, our plans for 2009 are already underway to develop this feature further.” – it wasn’t, Ewan Macintosh takes all the credit for his unconference here) I don’t really warm to them.

We’re all in this technology game for pretty much two reasons.

  1. We are not satisfied with how things are or used to be. We tend to be consistently hungry for the next step in technology, whatever form this may take.
  2. We secretly wish we were in Star Wars/Star Trek (delete as appropriate).

Well not much tends to make me sit up and spit my coffee from my nose these days but the following video, and I suggest you watch it all the way through, brings both together rather successfully. There’s nothing educational about this but LOOK AT THE BIG ROBOT DOG!

Thanks to 37 Signals for the spot.

Hi all, I’m a new poster to the odeworld blog. My name is Peter Marshall and I’ve recently joined the ode team as a software engineer and was prompted by Mr B to blog a couple of observations that peaked his interest. So here goes!

I saw an announcement today for another £100 laptop for school kids, the “Elonex One” http://www.elonexone.co.uk that will be running the Linux OS. This also comes hot on the heels of the Eeepc from Asus http://eeepc.asus.com/uk/guide.htm and they’re both very impressive.

I can also say, from first hand experience, that there is a lot of interest in these small PCs from my children and their friends. The interest to own one is being driven by the children; it doesn’t appear to be a parent led thing as in “lets buy a PC because its educational”.

I am also seeing a significant change in the way my children use and collaborate on work at school.

I think its beginning to turn into a movement driven by and for the student.

The government and schools always thought that they had to provide email for pupils. I distinctly remember there were government led initiatives to provide an email address for every school child (they failed). It became apparent it was unnecessary. No school child uses their school email address (even if they have one). They have always sourced their own.

The same has happened to documents and files. Schools thought they had to provide networks and file space and protection and all kinds of administration and support for children to upload homework files etc. Well, they don’t. Not anymore. My children use Google docs to collaborate (IN REAL TIME) with their mates to create work.

They also don’t bother to use the school network anymore. The school network naturally restricts how much space they can use to store work and students moving from the mindset outside school of web hosting services that freely grant upwards of 100GB of space to a school model that perhaps gives them 50MB and you can see why.

I can see that moving forward the only service the school has to provide is high speed access to the internet. Both the Asus Eeepc and the Elonexone devices come with full wireless internet access. Aside from any mindless controversy I think schools will very soon start to provide blanket wireless access points for pupils. In fact, it’s inevitable.

My children have made videos of their friends explaining all about pathogens for their biology homework. They upload the videos on to Youtube or Vimeo and present them in school (the school has not blocked Youtube…yet!).

Before the lesson most of the class has seen the video and rated or commented on it (because the link was shared using social networking sites in a peer to peer fashion). All this happens long before the teacher saw it in class.

What does this imply? That the teacher in this instance has become the slow link in the learning chain. And it will take a fundamental shift in thinking to make them once again an intrinsic part of the learning loop going forward.

From the students perspective a lot is changing very fast and the technology is naturally appearing to facilitate it. Demand and supply. I can see children progressing and branching in their own direction at such a pace I fear schools and the education sector are just getting left behind.

These small incredibly cheap PCs come with Linux, access to open source collaboration tools and wireless access and I think they are going to cause some big changes.

Go and see the video here: Biology video about Pathogens from Pierre Marshall on Vimeo.