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The history of (as told by our friends at Oracle).

The Idea

In 1997, The Dennis Stevenson Report on Technology and Teaching was published in the United Kingdom. It called for dramatic improvements in Information and Communications Technology in UK schools. Drawing on this report, Prime Minister Tony Blair issued a mandate in 1998 that all students in the United Kingdom would have an email account by the millennium. The government turned to Professor Stephen Heppell and his associates at Ultralab, an education technology think tank at Anglia Polytechnic University, to determine how to meet the Prime Minister's challenge. Prof. Heppell had a close acquaintance at Oracle Corporation in the UK and together they drafted a proposal. This proposal was delievered to Oracle HQ in the United States.

The Commitment

Coincidentally, a technology innovation team at Oracle in Reston, VA, had recently been experimenting with an idea for a web-based community and collaboration service. The proposal for student email found a natural fit with this new community technology, and within weeks a letter from Larry Ellison, the CEO, commited Oracle Corporation to the development of this project. began as "The Oracle Millennium Project" - a web-based educational community to provide UK students with not only an email address, but much, much more. Pilot Phase The Reston technology team went to work to create the pilot system and the pilot phase began in January 1999 with three schools. While Oracle provided the developers, the technology and a UK project management team, it hired the Ultralab as consultants to provide the pedagogical expertise. Working together, the first version was developed with a focus on allowing students to create, collaborate and communicate within communities of interest. It was dubbed codename "Scoop", following the news metaphor where each member and community had their own 'newspaper' to publish their work. Scoop had its first public introduction in January 1999 at the BETT conference, a major education technology trade show.

Throughout the pilot phase, the Scoop development team worked closely with the pilot schools to focus on broadening students' learning experiences. In April 1999, Prime Minister Tony Blair attended the first major announcement of Scoop and publically accepted Oracle Corporation's $10 million dollar commitment to provide Scoop to all primary and secondary students in the UK at The Wise Group, a community learning centre in Glasgow, Scotland. The pilot phase concluded in June with the conclusion that Scoop was a succesful application to promote the use of information technology to enrich learning in the early grades. Opening its online doors, Scoop was formally launched at the Tomorrow's World Live Event, at Earls Court in London in June 1999.

Schools throughout the UK began to sign up and enjoy using Scoop in their classrooms and at home. Over this time frame, Oracle also worked with teachers colleges and other organizations specializing in the professional development of teachers. As a result of these relationships, Talking Heads was born in January 2000. The Talking Heads community is comprised of Head Teachers throughout England, who interact online within to facilitate the adoption of technology in British schools.

With a stroke of luck, Oracle obtained the URL and Codename "Scoop" was re-christened Meanwhile, continuous enhancements were made to its tools and the technology. A new and improved, version 1.0, was launched on May 8, 2000. Gen. Colin Powell (ret.) attended the announcement celebration at a school in Dallas, Texas, which also received computers from the Oracle Help Us Help Foundation.

The team has grown over time. Along the way, the team built the necessary program infrastructure including teacher training, an online help system, legal agreements, privacy compliance, etc. Additionally relies upon the assistance of many organizations within Oracle as-needed to assist with technology, support, marketing, and legal services.

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