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Tim Berners-Lee

“The experience of the development of the web by so many people collaborating across the globe has just been a fantastic experience,” …

“The experience of international collaboration continues. Also the spirit that really we have only started to explore the possibilities of [the web], that continues.” …

“What’s exciting is that people are building new social systems, new systems of review, new systems of governance.”…

“My hope is that those will produce… new ways of working together effectively and fairly which we can use globally to manage ourselves as a planet.”

– Tim Berners Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web1 on the BBC website

Today we love…Tim Berners-Lee

The first time I ever used the World Wide Web was in 1994 or 1995 (I can’t remember which), at my university computer lab. Theoretically all of the workstations could access the web but only if you were privy to the proxy server details, but it wasn’t freely available to the general student body. Every time I went in there to type an essay, I would click on the NSCA Mosaic icon and not be able to connect to anything, to my deep disappointment.

One morning, I discovered that the proxy setting was active on the browser! I was on the Web! I can’t remember what page loaded but I didn’t care….Some time later, twilight started to fall and I realised that eight hours had passed and I hadn’t left my seat once!

Anyhow, reading the article today on the BBC website reminded me of this. Every time I read an article about Mr (Sir) Berners-Lee, I imagine that he wakes up in the morning, looks in the mirror and thinks “Yep, I invented the World Wide Web”.

I wonder how that feels?

For extraordinary innovation and general all round greatness…Tim Berners-Lee, we love you!!!

PS – the photo of Tim Berners-Lee is the Wikimedia Commons photo from his Wikipedia entry and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 License.

1 Of course, you also have to mention his colleague Robert Cailliau for his contribution too

Teachmeet 08

I’m at the lovely Teachmeet 08 gathering at Olympia, ably unorganised by Ewan McIntosh.

18:12 ish. I was chuffed that Ewan described ode as “funky”.

Things are moving quickly so this might be pretty incoherent until I get a chance to come back and clean it up a bit.

18:35 Ian Usher is talking about Moodle. We like Moodle…we really want to provide tools that work with Moodle in the future. He had a quick word about content and content providers. To paraphrase… “teachers don’t like buying a “big fat box” of it”…he mentioned ode too. (edit- It went by in a slight blur but hopefully it was mentioned as an exception to the existing content provider paradigm. Here is Ian’s blog post about Teachmeet)

Right now a great mashup of Subterranean Homesick Blues just finished playing in his presentation.

It’s all very interesting with other things talked about so far…Resources for Innovators in Schools plus a look at the Asus EeePC.

Unfortunately, Alex Savage was due to speak but had to leave to catch a train.

18:45 Blogging in a primary environment using Honeycomb is being presented by Vivien Bailey.

18:50 Yacapaca sounds pretty neat!

PS – After a long day on a stand at the trade show, the beer is tasting good 🙂

20:28 Just heard Derek Robertson‘s great talk about games in education in Scottish schools…really good. Had a small nap…but I’m back!

Now for some pizza.

ode winter

Yep, it is mighty chilly at Ode HQ right now. That’s not a surprise seeing as the winter solstice is only a day away.I took the above photo from from Ode Towers this afternoon…with the windows shut and the heaters on and reminisced about 2007…prompted by Mr B’s post from yesterday.

We’ve put a lot of work into laying the foundations for exciting things in 2008. I won’t repeat them all as Mr B covered them pretty well yesterday. One of the things I’m most excited about (with my “software development” hat on) is the Application Programming Interface (API) that we’re working on to help expose the content that will be stored in the Ode databases. What this means is that Ode platform partners will be able to incorporate Ode features in their own websites. We’ll be able to build some nice tools to enable you as a user to find the content that you want (cross platform search widget maybe?). For that matter nearly anyone with the nous will be able to build tools that interact with Ode (Moodle plug-in anyone?).

The other thing that I like about how were are building Ode is that we’re very interested in making a system that is developed in conjunction with those who will end up using it. Here at Ode Towers, we refer to it as User Centred Design.

“The central premise of user-centred design is that the best-designed products and services result from understanding the needs of the people who will use them. User-centred designers engage actively with end-users to gather insights that drive design from the earliest stages of product and service development, right through the design process.”

We’ve already been talking to a range of educators and content partners about what we’ve been up to but I’m looking forward to the prospect of opening the shutters a bit wider in 2008 and inviting beta users to help us improve what we have built already. One way of getting in on the fun is to visit us at BETT in London (we’re on stand N30).

Also in the interests of openness, my New Year’s resolution is to write more on this blog about how we’re building the system…so expect to be reading a bit about web standards, lean development and user stories from time to time in the new year.

All the best to you and your’s…see you in 2008.

Steiff Bear

“(Our) reason for starting ode (was) to make a difference, to create something awesome, to celebrate what technology can do in the modern classroom for the modern student and, of course, for the modern teacher.”

I spoke to a very happy Mr B the other day and hence I’m not surprised by the heartfelt entry that he posted last week (even though he’s supposed to be on paternity leave). Not being a daddy myself, I guess I don’t really have quite the same perspective on why we’re doing ode but I definitely agree with the quote above from his previous post.

Why the teddy bear picture? Well, I was recently in Munich where I purchased a little Steiff (creators of some of the first teddy bears) teddy for the newly arrived Little Miss B. It occurred to be that when she gets it, this bear will be not just a new little friend to chew on…it will be one of the first teaching aids in her young life.

The swing tag on the teddy says:

“Babies discover the world every day anew and the Steiff baby articles help them to do this….By touching, feeling, probing everything in reach…babies are also learning to “grasp” the world…The toys are made of easily cleaned, robust materials…allowing each growing child to make some of its early discoveries in safety.”

That got me to thinking…Knowing her dad and also the age we’re living in, she’ll have her first Internet connected device before too long. I’ll be interested to see in the years (or weeks!) to come how soon technology starts to influence Izzy’s education.

At the moment, the humble teddy bear provides the type of development that a digital resource cannot provide. Will educational technology ever provide a replacement for the teddy bear? My natural reaction was, “No way” but then I recalled the “Shift Happens” video that was going around a while back and that you can see below…

Here’s the link to the US version

Figures such as, an estimated 40 exabytes (4.0 x 1019) worth of information was produced in 2006, which is more than in the preceding 5000 years combined and that we currently have the technology to transmit “10 trillion bits per second”…That’s 10,000,000,000,000 bites per second or 1,164 gigabytes per second, down a single optical fibre strand, taken at face value are amazing.

Meanwhile back in 2007, whenever I come across anyone who doesn’t “get” ode…and that is less and less frequent these days…I tend not to worry too much. Safe in the knowledge that what we’re doing now is only the tip of the iceberg as far as educational technology is concerned. While we’re not quite up to 10 trillion bits per second bandwidth for each user, it is getting better all the time. Wireless and handheld technologies are becoming more widespread and educationally relevant too.

Hopefully, in a flattened world ode will develop alongside the convergence of fast data transmission, cheap storage and other effects of the commoditisation of IT. Further to the premise of the Shift Happens presentation, the service that we launch in 2008 will be barely recognisable in 2013. Maybe, when Izzy has children of her own, maybe they will have their own digital, teddy replacements…perhaps some type of electronic environment that stimulates their developing senses that she downloads from ode??? Or maybe they’ll use their mother’s handed down Steiff teddy!?

Hey, that’s the end of my first odeworld blog post in quite some time! Did I make sense?

What is ODE?

ODE will be a webstore where educators can buy little bits of digital educational content and put them back together any way they like. Simple.