Thursday, 21 January 2010

BETT 2010 - London

Its always a worry for small companies that spend most of your marketing budget on one event. However BETT 2010 was very successful for Second Places.

We have channeled most of our R&D into our new system, "The Content Grid (TCG)" over the past 3 months. And this was our chance to launch it. Without fanfare or ticker tape we launched on the Wednesday at a very quiet BETT (due to snow in London). But by the Saturday word of mouth had gotten out and people were entering the stand to look at TCG without us standing on the main route dragging them in.

It was exactly what I had hoped. Teachers and Principles were saying the exact same thing, "We want to work in a virtual world, we want the fun in education, the collaboration, project planning, the chance to break stuff without massive costs. But public virtual worlds was no use for UK (or euro) schools as the PC (political correctness) brigade and media would have a field day with the idea of kids and adults "sharing" a world. Where there would be no traceability, the old problem of animity and the problem of kids going where they shouldn't.

Someone one showed me a quote from Twitter where someone had posted on visiting of a public virtual grid "Just watched a class of 10 year olds being shown around an island their school had just purchased. I asked them how they liked it and was told they loved it!", next tweet was along the lines of "This shows how virtual worlds and schools can work together".

Now the last part is bang on, Schools and Students can have a whale of a time in a virtual world while learning at the same time. However the first statement is enough for every head teacher, every director of learning at a LA (local authority) to put the shutters up and use it as a way never to look at Virtual Worlds.... "Who was this person?", "Talking to kids? You have got to be kidding", etc etc etc.

I am not saying these people are not blowing a massive storm out of a coastal breeze but on the other hand, how do I know this person on Twitter (who has some silly name I can't remember) but had a picture of a middle age male was not a pedophile? By laws of probability I can be fairly sure he isn't but those in positions of responsibility know that probability now is not an excuse.

It would only take one story and that grid would have the media down on it like a tonne of bricks, making things up, seeing things that were not there. Remember Second Life? The Children being "groomed" even though you required a credit card to access, not many 10 years olds have credit cards (although may explain the credit crunch).

TCG takes away that problem. Its hosted in the school or in our own data center. Only those given access by the school can access the school grid. All our staff have been through the disclosure systems in both Scotland and England (Scotland is allot more strict). Its not a lot of money (£60) however even with that we have to give the school notice we are going to be in world and staff are on strict instructions to say nothing to anyone. The "BUSY" sign helps.

So every teacher who we spoke to, demoed and let loose in TCG knew we had by passed this problem.

Breaking another barrier between Students and Virtual Worlds.

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