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Re: [Fsfe-uk] BBC digital curriculum service in England

From: Kevin Donnelly
Subject: Re: [Fsfe-uk] BBC digital curriculum service in England
Date: Mon, 11 Oct 2004 11:06:04 +0100
User-agent: KMail/1.5.1

On Sunday 10 October 2004 4:47 pm, Ian Lynch wrote:
> And the BECTA Chairman is very interested in the use of Open Souorce
> methods in education and was the keynote speaker at FLOSSIE. I can
> E-mail him if necessary but I would need a well prepared set of
> questions, points, demands or whatever.

The following is a start on this.  Any suggestions from others?  

(preamble) Important to leave options for technical delivery as open as 
possible - changes in technology; unwise to become dependent on one supplier;   
increasing heterogeneity in IT systems (especially at server level); 
undesirability of discriminating against particular education segments based 
on IT systems; general interest now in open standards (at Government, EU and 
UN levels); BBC contributions to date (Dirac, opening of archives).  Our 
suggestions would be of a piece with this.

Apart from "provider" considerations above, important "user" considerations 
too if flexible technical options are chosen - possibility of repackaging 
material to keep up with changes in technology or curriculum; scope for 
easier porting of material to minority languages; better accessibility for 
disabled users.  

May also simplify future decisions on such things as providing a package of 
curriculum material for developing countries - not relevant at the moment, 
but could in the future be a practical way for the BBC to contribute tangibly 
to aid overseas.

(suggestions) In general, overriding suggestion is that the formats used 
should be based on those promulgated by multi-country, multi-platform, 
multi-vendor industry groups such as W3C or OASIS.  In particular, we make 
the following suggestions for the material: 
1. It should run on multiple browsers (ie it should not require the use of 
Microsoft Internet Explorer).

2. Ideally, it should run on non-Microsoft Windows platforms (ensuring the use 
of standard formats should allow this in most cases).

3. In cases where (2) is not possible, there should be a commitment to 
refactoring the material within a given time-period to allow it.

4. It should be released under a non-proprietary license which will allow for 
community input to improve it.  Ideally, the license used should be the GPL.

5. It should, so far as possible, be structured so as to encourage community 
input from practising teachers or others (eg use utf8 encoding to allow for 
Indic language fonts, place text in separate files for easy translation, etc 
- some programming examples perhaps).

6. In the longer term, for maximum flexibility, it should be authored and 
delivered using non-proprietary software applications.  Recognise that this 
would currently be difficult, but happy to work with the BBC or BECTA on 
pinpointing "roadblocks", and act as a point of contact with the wider 
community in trying to address these over time.


Pob hwyl (Best wishes)

Kevin Donnelly

www.kyfieithu.co.uk - Meddalwedd Rhydd yn Gymraeg
www.cymrux.org.uk - Linux Cymraeg ar un CD!

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