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November 09, 2004
The Great UKeU Learning Experience

The BBC reports on a fairly typical piece of public sector failure, in this case of the inelegantly named UKeU. See also these earlier BBC reports, here and here.

The basic problem seems to have been that the people running this thing thought that a good educational idea (even assuming that this is what it actually was which it probably wasn't) is enough for the whole wants-to-be-educated world to come pounding on your door. But, in business in general, and most definitely in education in particular, there is a little thing called reputation. You have to have one of these, it has to be good, and it can take a while to establish it.

And the other problem, of course, is that shovelling stuff onto the internet and exchanging emails with students is no longer rocket science, and is being done by other universities. As Americans would say: wow, never saw that coming.

The attitude of the Minister who inherited this mess reminds me of those comedy sketches about maintenance men who say "Who installed this then?" when the answer is: "You did, mate." You, as in this government. You set it up.

Current Minister Howells says that the "marketing" was poor.

However

... he would not call the failure of the project a disaster because he was interested in the lessons learned.

Ah. A learning experience.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 03:31 PM
Category: Computers in educationHigher educationPolitics
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