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I was recently made aware of the School of Everything (great name!) which looks like a very promising opportunity.

School of Everything screenshot

They are a UK start up company in the education space with a focus on facilitating learning that doesn’t happen in school, which I think is a really simple proposition that works.

As far as I can make out they have created a web platform (hub?) that anyone who considers themselves to have a domain expertise e.g. drumming, aromatherapy, felt making, yoga, can self nominate themselves for free as a “tutor” with the aim of attracting students and earning money.

Private tutoring basically. A bit like www.eduslide.net but with people instead of elearning content. It’s all about facilitating the relationship between pupil and teacher.

For example if you are a demon backgammon player you can create a profile and market yourself, with details about who you are, where you are and what services you offer at what price.

Educators are signing up from all over the world which is encouraging, as I suspect that to truly find someone with an expertise in obscure long tail subjects (left handed pool trick shots, octopus wrangling, rice grain painting) you are going to have to look much further afield than your own backyard. Also those tutors could potentially earn good money – rare skills command premium rates.

What I would like to see:

1) The ability to rate my tutor and comment on their work. I would like all tutors to be open to a public and open discussion on their methods, knowledge, ability to teach and on going support. Being an expert does not necessarily make you a good teacher. And anyone can sign up so there is no pre-validation of expertise. In a school or college as a pupil there is an (unspoken) trust agreement that the tutors have been through education and a recruitment process.

2) Software built into the School of Everything platform that meant I could video conference/screenshare with a tutor from around the world.

3) See their calendar, check out testimonials, view more photos and loads of other important stuff. I personally want to know more about the tutor, perhaps a chat function that allows me to get in touch immediately whilst the idea’s in my mind. Some stuff about their teaching methods would be nice too.

I’m sure School of Everything have considered the above points and more, they come across as a great team with some big ideas. I genuinely hope they succeed.

They are in alpha development right now and, like us, there’s loads they will want to do but it all takes time and money. C’est la vie.

I can’t help but feel School of Everything (aswell as sharing a similar attitude and space) and ode could link up in someway, via APIs if nothing else. If any of them get this trackback and are listening then get in touch!

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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.

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.

This week BBC Radio 4 are running a series of broadcasts on intellectual property called “Mine all Mine”, starting today, focusing on “the global war between the defenders of intellectual property and those determined to share it”.

It’s a look at the legal implications of digital delivery of virtual content and should be really interesting. The 4th and 5th one are of particular interest to us.

www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/mineallmine/pip/lprx3/

My Idea -Monday 25 February 15:45-16:00
Most scientists and inventors want to protect their work with patents, filing hundreds of thousands every year. But without patents could the world have cheaper healthcare and more efficient cars?

My Name- Tuesday 26 February 15:45-16:00
Trademarks have to be protected, but should anyone be allowed to trademark a colour or a phrase? And is it really a sin to buy a fake Rolex watch?

My Music- Wednesday 27 February 15:45-16:00
The music industry has been revolutionised by the internet explosion. With free music available online, why should anyone pay for it?

My Pictures-Thursday 28 February 15:45-16:00
Anyone with a broadband computer can now download and watch virtually any movie free of charge. This is illegal, but the chances of being prosecuted are close to zero. Some consider this the death of an industry, but others call it healthy anarchy.

My Words-Friday 29 February 15:45-16:00
Plagiarism has become a nightmare for teachers, publishers and journalists. Anyone from a lowly GCSE student to a high-profile writer can easily copy a chunk of text from a website, and it is equally easy to catch someone doing so. But there are those who defend the free exchange of other people’s words as a basic liberty.

I hope they don’t mind me cutting and pasting their listing into this blog. That would be ironic, eh?

As a visitor (or stand owner, it wasn’t too clear) at BETT I was emailed a link to a web survey this morning which at the end promised me exclusive access to a NERP report (National Education Research Panel) concerning the “new technology outlook (for schools) in 2008” driven by data gathered from “422 primary and 272 secondary schools cross the UK” in Dec ’07.

Amongst the usual bar charts and stat heavy paragraphs I soon noticed that mobile learning was taking a real hammering and schools were instead focusing heavily on front of class ICT.

In Primary Schools “…mobile devices continue being of little value or not utilised by the majority of Primary schools.

In Secondary Schools “…little or no investment is planned for mobile devices“.

This contrasted massively against the move towards more teacher-centric (or should that be static?) ICT utilities:

“Broadly, it can be determined that primary schools are more likely to value teacher-facing technologies such as IWBs, while secondary schools are more likely to value the core ICT infrastructure.”

“Secondary schools are mostly likely to make large investments in learning platforms (22%), and IWBs (23%).”

Again and again mobile ICT learning came out badly and teacher led ICT learning came out strongly.

Initially this led me to wonder if the fault lies with the mobile device manufacturers for making their products too expensive when compared to the (perceived) benefit it brings to the learning (“Secondary schools are…most likely to identify mobile devices as offering poor value-for-money“) . Or does the emphasis lie with mobile content publishers for not producing assets that capture teachers imaginations?

“Registration systems and mobile devices are more likely to be perceived as offering poor value-for-money.”

You could simply read into all this that teachers think the cost to benefit ratio is too high. But when you see this data alongside the drive to IWBs and VLEs it starts to look more than a cold financial decision: are schools afraid to move from a teacher controlled, front of class model (the interactive whiteboard) to a distributed, more student controlled model (the mobile device)?

Is it fear of letting go some of that control that is pushing mobile learning further and further from their minds? ICT has exploded into classrooms since the late 90’s and I can imagine schools are only now starting to get a true handle on it all. So is m-learning just a technology too far right now?

Or is it the perhaps unspoken idea that somehow the outside world of ipods, mobile/smart phones, Sony PSP, Nintendo DS, Palm Pilots and so on are intrusive, chaotic and blur too obviously the boundaries between study (work) and non-study (play)?

Or is it something more practical? The small size of these devices could be an issue – after all a teacher can at least physically monitor a laptop screen or a Whiteboard – who can tell what’s going on on 30 small mobile devices in the classroom?

I don’t know – I’m not a teacher. But it’s obvious something fundamental has to shift and I think it’s a mindset, from LA level to Classroom teacher.

Of course data such as “…more than half of primary schools indicate the best delivery method for curriculum content in 2008 is via websites” and the emphasis on IWBs and VLEs is great for ode in general, it’s still a little disheartening that mobile learning investment is on such a downer.

Perhaps ode could contribute a kick start to m-learning – after all little bits of learning suit little learning devices, right?

The scope for mobile learning is enormous. The Wolverhampton “Learning2go” project has done some incredible work and companies such as m-learning.mobi look really interesting. There’s even a dedicated conference, Handheld Learning, although anyone that promotes a conference by using a quote from a Guardian journalist that says “These are not new technologies, and the speakers weren’t saying anything they hadn’t said several times before” doesn’t exactly fill you with confidence.

I am 100% sure that one day someone will crack it and break down the barrier. It may be a generational thing – a mobile savvy 7 year old in a classroom today could be a captain of m-learning industry tomorrow.

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.

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:

+++++++++++++++++++++

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.

+++++++++++++++++++++

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.

I am writing this in our hotel suite after our first ever day at BETT. Our feet and backs hurt but what a day! We’ve had massive amounts of interest from an eclectic range of suppliers and spoke to lots of teachers about ode. Basically we’re exhausted but glowing with pride that our platform was received so warmly by so many people.

But you’ll have to excuse this short post as my feet hurt and there’s a Wagamama round the corner and I’m starving. I will post much more considered and reflective detail later this week when I’ve had time to absorb it all.

I’m also BURSTING to tell you about a deal we sealed today which we’re all excited about but I want to make sure we announce it right. So come back tomorrow for the news hot off the press.

Anyway, if you visited us today we are humbled and grateful for your time and interest – it was a genuine pleasure to speak to you all. Have some photos to tide you over until proper posts later this week.

The riot of elearning goodness and bottomless marketing budgets that is BETT

BETT show from the balcony

Our stand. It can’t compare to the carnival of excess on the lower floors but we like it. Plus the rolling green hills make us feel soothed.

Our stand 2008

Anthony entranced by our massively over the top 24″ imacs.

Anthony at the stand

An arty photo by Dik, clearly influenced by a quiet period

Stand up close

In the words of Jim Anchower, one of my favorite all time Onion columnists, I know it’s been a long time since I rapped at ya, but the pedal is to the metal right now, if you know what I mean.

Alongside progressing a host of exciting content and platform partnerships that I’d love to tell you about (but should wait for the ink to dry first or the lawyers will send in the big dogs) we’ve been trying to get ready for our first BETT.

For those of you who don’t know about it or have never been BETT is THE elearning industry trade show in the UK. It’s run over 4 days and held in Kensington Olympia in London. I’ve been many times, occasionally manning a stand (tough, tough work), most times as a visitor and last January as a one man band bugging whoever would listen that ode was coming.

This time we have our own stand: N30 on the upper balcony. It’s 4m x 2m (about the same size as a walk in wardrobe) and will be our first outing in the glare of the public. Up until now other people have always set stands up for me but going through it this year for the first time I have a new found respect for those people who organise these trade show events.

Trust me, it’s a labour of love and frustration. And the whole time you cannot shake the feeling that it’s a lot of money with a questionable return on investment. So you have to know why you are going and how to measure success. These are some of the major questions we have had to ask ourselves…

  1. Why are you going? Strangely enough, the answer to this is usually because everyone else is so you should too. But it’s always a good idea to have a secondary interest and know what you want to get out of it before you go. We want to meet any content/platform companies interested in ode and get them on board. And if any educators want to join in as beta users even better. We will have a little postcard thing to fill out just for that purpose.
  2. Who is going to run your stand? This is important – remember these folks will be meeting your customers and clients face to face, perhaps for the first time. Can they sell your idea? Are they all aware of what to say and how to get value from visitors to your stand? You may also have to have a thick skin as people may knock or not be impressed by your product. You must certainly have a strong bladder. Then you have to rota everyone, organise the hotel, sort out stand food, a place to hang your coats…
  3. How do you want your stand to look? We’ve employed a proper agency to design it for us. Left to our own devices it would have been a cardboard box with a laptop on it.
  4. What do you want people to wear? Suits? T-shirts and jeans? Some sort of all in one star trek type velor jump suit?
  5. Who will come to your stand? It’s worth analysing who is likely to be interested in your product. Obviously we are brand new so no one has heard of us. Ultimately we want to engage with potential content suppliers who are also exhibiting at BETT and hopefully sign up a handful of interested teachers to contribute to how ode works. With all the huge educational suppliers dominating the show it’s unlikely we will register on most visitors radars but some may stumble on us – you are very welcome.
  6. Should you give something away? I cannot believe some of the pointless freebies I have picked up over the years – branded pens, fluffy gonks, lightbulb erasers, highlighters, paper weights, mousemats and the current freebie du jour, the USB memory stick. So, to save some money, we thought we’d look more original by NOT giving any freebies out. There will be minicards though.
  7. What’s your contingency plan? Something will go wrong I promise. Someone could go sick, the internet connection could drop out, the product could crash in front of an important customer or client, meetings could be missed, your logo might be misspelled on your stand banner, your stand could be right next door to Loud-House-Music-And-Shouty-Salesperson-Software-Company, someone could trip on a loose carpet tile and douse one of your monitors in coffee and so on. Have a selection of back up steps to cater for Muphy’s law.

Dealing with all this will cost you a fortune but you can make some brilliant contacts at events like this.

We’re not selling anything except the opportunity to collaborate with us. Even if it all goes wrong and we’re reduced to the cardboardbox/laptop scenario we’d still love to speak to you. So if you are interested in ode in any way please book an appointment with us by emailing support@odeworld.co.uk .

See you there!

Harry Verwayen at “Images for the Future” in Holland has commented in his blog on the ambitions we’ve laid down for ode, which he broadly supports. Well, he believes strongly in the vision, but, like most people, hopes to see it done right as he believes liberating educational content is vital to embrace the modern student’s outlook and behaviors.

“This is an environment where changes have been notoriously slow to take root. Where the current generation of young children that have in fact been ‘born digital’ spend their free time between msn, gameconsoles and their pc but receive their education primarily through old fashioned books and whiteboards. “

This is an evident dichotomy facing education today. A student has to walk between two worlds, you might call them “analogue” (the classroom) and “digital” (everything outside the classroom).

We should take comfort in the fact that the line is blurring (there are loads of fantastic digital torch bearing educators out there, unfortunately they are still the minority) but essentially todays students are still immersed in the same education system you can trace back through generations.

I think what we’re doing is simply the next natural evolution in teaching. In fact I’d say education lends itself more naturally to this disaggregated approach to content than most other industries – teachers have always been extremely passionate about collecting the very best materials to suit their style and their students, no matter where they come from.

The Internet has given educators an unbelievable treasure trove of content and interaction but it’s not designed for that specific use, in fact the Internet is not ‘designed’ at all – you simply find the least painful resource e.g. Google and try your best to wring everything you can out of it.

But even the mighty Google is ham strung by being designed to work for everyone (which is another way of saying it’s designed to work for no one). So as we (the collective group) get “better” at the Internet the more sites like Google will frustrate us as our needs become deeper and more profound, well beyond keyword searching.

ode will be one of a number of new “find engines“, not “search engines”, for education. The difference being a search engine expects you to know exactly how best to search for something e.g. the right combination of keywords, and gives you a single object back (the right one hopefully), a find engine provides a number of facilities to help you locate data and resources around what you want (or indeed influenced by what you already have).

Ask.com has positioned itself as a find engine although I think it misses the point somewhat – it’s still a general search engine – and the term works much better in a specific domain. It’s a need that fits well into a vertical marketplace such as education or music where peer review, editorial recommendation and folksonomy help enormously.

Ultimately ode has a major battle on it’s hands on two fronts: convincing content owners to change the way they sell their content and educators to recognise how wonderful this might be for them and their students. Still, nothing good comes easy, right?

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.