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Should the BBC Use Licence-Fee Money for a Digital Curriculum? the Curriculum Debate May Not Be High Profile, but the Issues Are Important

Magazine article Marketing

Should the BBC Use Licence-Fee Money for a Digital Curriculum? the Curriculum Debate May Not Be High Profile, but the Issues Are Important

Article excerpt

Yet another row is brewing in time for Christmas over the scale and nature of the BBC's involvement in commercial markets. This time the battle is over educational software and the extent to which the BBC should be allowed to use licence-fee money to set up a learning management system and develop content for it.

Naturally the prime minister is determined to have a digital curriculum, whether the schools on the receiving end have computers or not.

The move to a digital curriculum sounds like a big, bold, modernistic plan. So you can be sure we are going to have one. Already funds have been moved away from making conventional educational programmes even though educational broadcasting would be perfectly serviceable and probably more practical for many more years.

The real issue is what sort of market it will create and how open it is going to be for private sector educational publishers. The details are still sketchy, but private firms fear the worst.

Apparently the plan is for the BBC to spend as much as [pounds sterling]140m a year on creating electronic educational software, to be provided free to schools.

To even things up a bit, the government, through the Department for Education and Skills, is going to make around [pounds sterling]80m worth of funding available to schools in the form of electronic credits.

A host of questions are already forming in the minds of educational publishers. Will the funds they receive be enough to create a market or will the BBC be able to dominate the electronic curriculum? …

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