Amended 15/3/2007; update (below) 17/3/2007. Correction and amendments to 17/3/2007 update, made on 7/4/2007, in response to a request from Lewis Bronze, CEO of Espresso Education Ltd.
Donald Clark and the Guardian Online note the BBC's decision to suspend Jam, its expensive, ambitious, error-ridden and strangely designed e-learning web site. From the beginning it smacked to me of adults imagining what children like, and seemed to have been produced with an eye on visual complexity rather than on effective on-line learning. Notwithstanding that around 170,000 people had registered to use it.
"The BBC Trust has today decided to suspend the online education service, BBC Jam, with effect from 20 March 2007. The Trust has requested BBC management to prepare fresh proposals for how the BBC should deliver the Charter obligation to promote formal education and learning, meeting the online needs of school age children. Once completed, the Trust will subject BBC management's proposals to a full Public Value Test, including a market impact assessment by Ofcom."
"The Trust's decision follows extensive discussions with Government and the European Commission about how to address allegations from some in the industry that Jam is damaging their interests."
But there are 200 jobs at risk, 170,000 registered users will lose a service that (?) they've been making use of, and any work that they have saved, and a lot of procured and ready-to-launch content, developed with, say, £75m of public funding, may now never be used. 14/3/2007 BBC management press release. 14/3/2007 BBC Trust press release, from which the above excerpt is taken.
17/3/2007. There is plenty of interest (puns notwithstanding) on the Web about the BBC decision, some of it highly critical. See, for example, BBC in a fruitless jam, by John Connell, and Why does toast always land with the Jam side down?, by Ewan McIntosh. And you may also be interested in the stance taken in 2002 by the companies that originally objected to and won stringent conditions in the January 2003 BBC/Government decision for the BBC to become a major producer of on-line learning content, funded by the public through their TV license fees. For example here is a quote - reported in The Register - from Lewis Bronze of Espresso Education Ltd from that time:
"The opportunity provided by broadband technology should allow a torrent of educational content to flow - instead, the BBC's current proposals will give us a desert. The BBC's current proposals for their free to air digital curriculum will massively curtail the choice available for schools. Using £170 million of the public's licence fees destroys a competitive market, deprives children and teachers of choice and diversity, and kills off the UK educational software industry."
Note. Other posts about BBC Jam:
- 19 March 2007 - BBC Director General Mark Thompson on Jam, in October 2006.
- 17 March 2007 - BBC Jam. We need usage data.
- 14 March 2007 - BBC suspends Jam, its flagship online learning web site.