5th May 2006 at 01:00
The news that Becta is snipping the National Grid for Learning will be welcomed in many quarters (news, page 4), but others will be asking whether the surgery goes deep enough. Let's face facts. When measured against its aims, the Curriculum Online portal has been a disaster, the connected eLearning Credits scheme a mess, and all of it can be traced back to the debacle of the BBC's Digital Curriculum (now BBC Jam and still steeped in controversy). Will sloshing the CO data (much of it questionable) out to LEAs, and launching a new portal - Content Search - really solve the problem?

Giving some of our disposable income to a chap from the DfES might sound a little dodgy for a journalist, but Offline will make an exception for Adrian Hall who has been involved in some of the more ground-breaking areas of educational ICT - exploring the benefits of gaming for learning for example, and the award-winning Sonica software for primary language learning (Spanish). Later this year Adrian will join the Entertainment Software Charity (ESC) team to climb the 19,340ft Mount Kilimanjaro to raise funds, a third of which goes to help street children in Moshi, Tanzania.

Cash in brown envelopes is not required - our more than civil servant has pointed us to the Just Giving website where we can donate painlessly. Help the ESC break its own record of pound;195,000.

www.justgiving.comadrianhall The mention of Sonica, however, makes Offline feel less than charitable.

This excellent software failed to make it even to the shortlist for the BETT awards run by Becta. Further foolishness from the shortlisters has come to light with the news that Apple's acclaimed iLife also fell foul of these bureaucrats because of a lack of telephone support. This software - including iMovie, iTunes and GarageBand - is free with every Mac, very easy to use and has extensive web support. Many of these awards tales only emerge after the event because entrants are wary of crossing a powerful quango. Let's see if the new Becta regime can inject more sanity into the process.

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