Education in bits and pieces

Monday, November 5th, 2007

ODE stands for Online Distribution Engine. It aims to be a store where educators can buy little bits of digital content and put them back together any way they like, a proces dubbed ‘Mash up teaching’. This idea has it’s roots in the music business where sampling has become a complete new industry. Slice up the content until you get to the core ingrediënts, an acapella vocal line for example. Now look on your shelf for other ingrediënts that will spice up your recipe, a nice fast drum beat for example. Put them together and by ‘mashing them up’ you have created a new piece of content. Not very different in fact from the way science has been functioning since the age of the Enlightenment. We are all standing on the shoulders of giants as Sir Isaac Newton already said centuries ago.

The question is how this rather refreshing principle will work out in the world of education. 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 msm, gameconsoles and their pc but receive their education primarily through old fashioned books and whiteboards. So are teachers ready to put their destiny in their own hands and create their own teaching materiaal? The people at ODE world, a wholy owned subsidiary of Hartcourt/Pearson certainly believe they will. Their Beta platform will be ready for launch in the spring of 2008, ready to conquer the UK education market. All they need now is high quality content and a targetted audience willing to make micro-payments for the material of their choice. It is the quality of the content and their ease of use for teaching purposes that will make the difference. That much we did learn from successful ventures in the music industry such as iTunes. For education, the proof will be in the pudding.