Big changes are expected at Reading Master.
Parent Company, the organisation behind the Reading Master website, was founded in 1993 when Denise Ford and her husband Grant began writing learning-to-read materials for their two children.
“We looked around the world for good learning media and found none,” says managing director Grant Ford. “So we decided to make our own. There was lots of data about what these resources should look like, but no resources. Education had become a very academic thing.”
So the Fords sat down to write their own material. Based on many years of research into learning methods, and with professional backgrounds in psychology and education, they developed a range of products aimed at helping parents teach their 0-to-8-year-old children.
Until now the Reading Master website was created and managed in-house by Grant. He expects to be expanding the site dramatically any day, streaming video from the site allowing kids to play with some of the video products in Reading Master. The Fords are also negotiating with Clear to form an application service provider relationship for e-commerce capability, taking the system away from the home-based business it has been.
“Everybody’s future is overseas,” says Grant. His advice is to put a lot of effort into research and development and come up with a good product. Make it once and then multiply it into as many marketing channels as you can.
“It takes as long as it takes to get the design right,” says Grant. “Once it’s right, it’s all about speed to market.” He adds that e-commerce is not a substitute for being in business. “It’s a logical extension of the business you are in or it’s not logical for you to do it.”
Between the two of them, the Fords have built up a huge amount of experience in learning media and IT. Grant has been in business as an organisational coach and public speaker. He has developed all the software involved with presenting Reading Master on CD-ROM. He also developed a self-improvement CD-ROM called 5-Petal, in use at several leading organisations, according Ford.
Reading Master contains 27 books (all written by Denise), three videos and a CD-ROM. It is based on research in education by Montessori, Doman, Spalding and other noted academics.
“We are toolmakers,” says Grant. “We understand what the brain is doing at a certain age, what the environment does at a certain age and we understand the technology. We bring them together to maximise a child’s learning experience at that age.”