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BBC Digital Curriculum

The BBC has been developing proof-of-concept prototypes for the Department for Education and Skills to demonstrate the viability of a Virtual Learning Environment through which students would learn by interacting with various education modules.

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The system developed will eventually enable schools to use a multimedia-enriched learning environment throughout the whole of their coursework to complement their normal classroom practice. During the first stage the trial was run in 28 schools where teachers and pupils interacted with the system in a live environment.

In addition to providing ongoing consultancy to the BBC, LShift was commissioned to build a system of applications and interfaces it could adapt for various learning experiences. The BBC required technology that could be run on a variety of systems to allow the broadest possible distribution and a user experience that conformed to their strict BETSIE accessibility standards.

LShift created a series of middle and front-tier applications serving multimedia components from various distributed locations. The core lesson modules were created predominantly using DHTML at the front-end to speed up and give a richer, more interactive experience. A system for transforming XML or the multimedia components from the content databases into the module was built using JavaScript.

The results of the initial proof of concept have been well received, with the overall feedback suggesting that this approach would be effective at providing more flexibility for the student and more support for the teachers. The various literacy, numeracy and maths applications have been tested across the whole of the National Curriculum and age groups and the project is currently undergoing government review.

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