Offline

14th March 2003 at 00:00
What is it about teachers and Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Several classroom versions have appeared on interactive whiteboards in UK schools and now it could become a computer game. Celador International, the company behind the show, hopes to develop its "e-learning capabilities" and after making a perfect choice of game it has found the perfect education consultant - Steve Molyneux, Microsoft professor of advanced learning technologies at the University of Wolverhampton and director of the Government's National Research Centre for ICT in Education. Not only is he qualified as a partner, but driving in his Rolls-Royce has given him valuable insights into the millionaire lifestyle.

So farewell Michael Stevenson, joint director of factual and learning at the BBC, the man who in The TES assured software publishers that there was nothing to fear from good old Aunty while the BBC was talking to Pearson about garnering a slice of the education market by putting BBC digital content on Pearson's Knowledge Box product. He subsequently resigned after a BBC internal inquiry found there had been "impermissible activity", along with pound;60,000 of licence-payers' money spent "improperly" while the Digital Curriculum was the subject of a judicial review. (Project director Claire Riley has also quit.) However, insiders suggest that links between the BBC and Pearson were forged at a far higher level. The inquiry was told of a flurry of letters between BBC chief Greg Dyke and Pearson boss Marjorie Scardino (former colleagues, still friends). The BBC says the letters are innocent - so innocent it will not reveal them. Of course, media regulators could easily find out...

...if they really wanted to. Conspiracy theorists have lunched well on the feedback from the visit that the Digital Learning Alliance (DLA), opponents of the BBC Digital Curriculum, made to culture secretary Tessa Jowell. They were intrigued to see the minister's appointments whiteboard for the day, which started with "telephone conversation with Ed Richards (Number 10 adviser on communications and ex-BBC)" and ended with "telephone conversation with Ed Richards". ("His hand has been on this for over a year," says an Offline source.) And during the meeting they were reassured to see the minister supported by her adviser, Bill Bush, also ex-BBC. Now, why on earth should the DLA be paranoid?

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