Some of you may know that I work for the BBC, on a little (£150m) e-learning site, BBC Jam. It was with great frustration last week, that I learned of the BBC Trust’s decision to suspend the service, pending the outcome of a public value test – Here lies the official press release describing just that.
Along with some harsh conditions placed on the production of this service (brought about by the same complaints that have caused this suspension), the site has seen its share of challenges. But the quality of e-learning content over the last year has been outstanding, and a great deal of it (more than 80%) has still to see the light of day.
There is a story worth reporting here. Years ago £150m was awarded to the BBC for the production of Jam. The government also granted £530m in e-learning credits (over 4 years) to bolster the e-learning education industry here in the UK. Along with these grants, a set of conditions was imposed on BBC Jam, including terms stating the BBC could only cover 50% of the UK curriculum. Some questions worth asking here;
- Where did the £530m go? How is the spending of this money by schools regulated?
- Why is e-learning content in the UK still so droll? (in comparison with the richer interactive (flash-based) offerings from the BBC)
- How can some companies claim they have lost business/revenue since BBC Jam had (until now) only launched about 15% of it’s content with only a small advertising campaign?
- Why does most of the UK’s educational software market revolve around the adoption of VLE’s in schools (and locking them into a platform) – rather than content and great learning experiences?
- Should the suspension of a free e-learning service for kids ever be celebrated? and who does this really benefit?
Reaction across the web has proved BBC Jam has a lot of support. Even on sites claiming this suspension is a good idea. commentaries have quickly shot down the authors post. There is some more good discussion on the matter here and here.
Here comes the disclaimer: the views expressed above do not necessarily correspond with those of the BBC.