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You had to register to see the content - so the 170,000 figure is skewed. I'm a registered user but hated the content - see also this detailed review from Graham Davies, who knows a thing or two about language learning:
http://www.camsoftpartners.co.uk/BBC_Jam.htm. [Yes, there is already a link to Graham's piece above under "error-ridden and strangely designed" above. Seb.]

This was a disaster waiting to happen.

Lewis Bronze's line of argument from 2002 is, of course, laughable. After the decision to push a minimum of 50% of the content production for BBC Jam out to the private sector, the BBC decided to be very careful and retain less than 50% in-house. This means that at least £75m of the total spend on Jam became available to the private sector.

Add to that the £555m that has been allocated for eLearning Credits since this funding stream was established by DfES, and any talk of ending up with a 'desert' is simply ludicrous. The commercial suppliers have been able to bid into something like 88% of the total funding available (and that's not even looking at all the other locally managed budgets that have been used by schools over the years to fund ICT and e-learning content) - it seems that the remaining 12% has to be available to them too.

As I have said elsewhere, market distortion is very much in the eye of the beholder. I prefer to call it greed.

Lewis Bronze got it right. As soon as the BBC announcement was made capital for product and company growth in this area dried up.

OK, it's now a sunk cost. The question now is whether it was worth it. I think not. After burning through £75 million the output has been a trickle and of poor quality. 200 people plus suppliers and they simply failed to deliver.

On the issue of registrations:

25,000 schools
450,000 teachers
9 million schoolchildren
20 million plus parents
….and that’s just England and Wales.

Suddenly 170,000 since early 2006 doesn’t seem such a lot, especially with the BBC brand as the driver.

Not only has the BBC suspended its ‘BBC Jam’ Digital Curriculum service, but from the end of March the production of the educational TV programmes that BBC Jam was to replace will also cease and the staff associated with them will be made redundant. It was hoped they would be resettled over in the expanding BBC Jam service, but not now, so it looks as if these key staff will be lost to the BBC. More serious is that the suspension of BBC Jam and the stopping of school TV production at the same time now means that the BBC actually makes no formal education provision at all for children and schools. I know the BBC Trust has asked for ‘..fresh proposals for how the BBC meets its public purpose of promoting formal education in the context of school age children’, but by the time this is completed, many key TV production staff will have been sacked. Time to make a fuss, write to MPs, etc.

It would have been good to judge jam by its entirety, not the tip of the iceberg that had been released. I think many in the BBC would probably have acknowledged that the material released to begin with was not the finest that was going to emerge (you can debate the merits of this tactic by the BBC separately...).

I would say this, as a senior member of the team which was producing the most external commissions for the BBC (Tinopolis and Tinopolis/Spark Learning Consortium), but the stuff we were working on would never have worked in the commercial market and was highly useable, distinctive and pioneering. Problem is, you're most likely not ever going to be able to see it or make your own judgements on it. That's the scandal right now.

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