Magazine article Information Today

BBC's Online Curriculum. (International Report)

Magazine article Information Today

BBC's Online Curriculum. (International Report)

Article excerpt

On Jan. 9, Tessa Jowell, the U.K.'s Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, announced her approval of the BBC's application to create a Digital Curriculum. This will be a no-fee public service that distributes -- via the Internet -- interactive, online learning materials suitable for the U.K. school curriculum (http://www.culture.gov.uk/creative/press_releases.html).

The announcement comes as a great disappointment to the commercial e-learning sector, which, through a consortium of publishers called the Digital Learning Alliance (DLA), had strongly lobbied against the proposal. The DLA brought together members of the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) and the Publishers Association to create a committee that includes Cambridge University Press, Channel 4, Espresso Education, Granada Learning, Harper Collins, Nelson Thornes, Oxford University Press, Pearson Education, Reed Educational, and Professional Publishing and Research Machines.

A report commissioned by the DLA and published during last year's consultation period claimed that the U.K.'s educational software industry would stand to lose about $660 million in business if the proposal were accepted. Not surprisingly then, Dominic Savage, BESA's director general, stated that the application should never have been accepted because it is wrong for education and damaging to the industry.

The arguments for and against the BBC's proposal somewhat mirror U.S. experiences with its government's plans to distribute publicly funded information. Savage believes that the BBC designed the application to compete with the private sector. …

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