Lord Puttnam at Handheld Learning

Lord Puttnam made a typically passionate and rousing speech at the end of the Handheld Learning conference. It’s available online to view here – you’ll need to scroll to the very bottom of the page.

Leaving aside his (entirely justifiable) attack on some elements of the press (which I read to mean my bugbear, the Daily Mail), his comments were an interesting view on the credit crunch.

His approach as understood by me:

  • the UK should now focus its efforts on building an economy based on green technologies and the creative industries, not on financial services;
  • we should think of education as “vocational” in a new sense – that of a child finding his or her vocation;
  • there is a real need to re-engage the large number of disaffected learners;
  • technology is key to this as it’s what the learners expect and understand.

You may agree or disagree (mostly I agree) but I was desperate to ask about public service educational content in this respect. The BBC seems currently to be worryingly quiet on this matter, Channel 4 can’t do it on its own, and allegedly some not-for-profits and LAs are now so scared in the aftermath of BBC Jam that they won’t develop content for fear of being accused of having state aid in a free market. This is absurd. Will somebody in politics or public service broadcasting stand up and be brave, please? We need to be building stuff of the quality that the independent sector were creating for Jam. But we just can’t do it right now with no funding and no evidence of ambition.

1 Comment

  1. Richard PIETRASIK says:

    An excellent piece Nick.It’s interesting to reflect on our Prime Minister’s comments in today’s Daily Telegraph when considering what we were trying to achieve with BBC jam and what stopped us. It wasn’t because our ambition was flawed or the quality of what was being produced by that fruitful partenership between the “public” BBC and those many small “private” software companies wasn’t of the best. It was apparently because we were providing unfair competition for those companies selling educational products to schools. This despite the fact that it was ring-fenced “public” money (eLearning Credits) that was paying for these products. It was a nonsense. Children’s education was sacrificed on the altar of market economics.Gordon Brown says in today’s Telegraph, “society should not live by markets alone” and that the markets must reflect society’s values, including “fairness, stewardship and co-operation”Absolutely. And how well these sentiments can be applied to the production of freely available educational materials for our children. Lord Puttnam’s approach is right. Technology is the key and we should be bold in our approach to the present economic situation recognising that this is exactly the moment to redirect our society from the reliance on “financial services” and “market economics” to creative and useful production. BBC jam was an example of exactly this approach.Richard Pietrasik, ex Head of Education BBC jam


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