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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!

The last time we professed love for a website was a big old gush about moo. We even went mini card crazy at BETT 08 so we are still devoted fans.

ode moo cards at BETT 08

(True story…my hand holding our Moo “golden ticket” card for some reason comes out 2nd and 3rd in a Google image search for “moo card”. Sorry, Moo!)

Today we love… Commoncraft.

For those of you not familiar with Commoncraft they make short instructional videos on a range of (mostly) technology subjects and tools that otherwise confuse, infuriate or alienate most “non-techies”, such as Wikis, Twitter, Blogs and RSS feeds.

If any of those words sound like jargon a) you are missing out on some really useful and interesting technology and b) keep reading to find out why.

In their words: “Our product is explanation. We use video and paper to make complex ideas easy to understand. We present subjects “in plain English” using short, unique and understandable videos in a format we call Paperworks.

You may not recognise the terms in the videos below, or you may have heard them mentioned and been too intimidated to admit you don’t really get them. Nothing wrong with that. Everyone has to start learning somewhere.

Why do we like Commoncraft so much to give it our coveted “Who do we love today” link?

  1. Each video looks (deliberately) amateur and therefore removes that psychological barrier that often exists between trainer and trainee.
  2. Each video doesn’t last long so you can give it your full attention.
  3. They allow you to embed the videos under their creative commons licence.
  4. Recently, in an ode way, they’ve started to sell each “little bit of explanation” as a business tool for those that want higher resolution versions.
  5. They make learning enjoyable without being patronising. Not as easy as it sounds.

I wish I could have shown people these videos when pitching ode. Perhaps then there would have been slightly less blank stares when I mentioned things like “I am going to do a blog”.

Yep, ode would be proud to sell Commoncraft video to schools and colleges.

Wikis in plain english

Blogs in plain english

RSS in plain english

Google Docs in plain english

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.