Thursday, May 31, 2007

It's Friday, it's 10:15, it's...

CrackerJack!!!! er, Teachers' TV?
Well, much as I'd love to crush a grape, jump off a doll's house, test drive a Tonka or wrestle an Action Man (oh, and if you're reading this from outside of the UK then I can only apologise on Stu Francis's behalf...) instead tomorrow morning I'll be taking the train into Marylebone to film two short (15 minute) Resource Review programmes for Teachers' TV. I'm not sure what I'm allowed to say before the programme's broadcast - except (let me check my email from the production company):

...we’re looking at six VLE/Learning Platform-orientated products, covering both Primary and Secondary...
'Tis about all I can say, apart from I'm not allowed to wear anything with stripes / spots / patterns / logos on (no dressing up like Ian Krankie in the picture above then). They say it's to prevent interference with the cameras, but I think they know I'll look rubbish. In the meantime, you can watch two of my colleagues on Teachers' TV - Dan China (Art Adviser for Bucks) and Ruth Wilkes (MFL Adviser for Bucks). The format of tomorrow's programme will apparently be like this one - apparently my role is that of teacher. Please stop laughing at the back!
Also, as it's half term, here's an entertaining (for me) Breeze presentation created by our secondary English consultant Lindsey Thomas about How To Use Breeze (Connect) for your English Coursework - a follow-up to a post a few months ago.
And finally, on joining the Facebook group I prefer MS Paint over Adobe Photoshop - I came across this. Genius. If it's genuine.

Get Your Google Gears Going

One of the sure signs that a technology story might be quite significant might be when it makes the front page of the BBC News site. Either that or it's a complete red herring, but that's not mine to debate...
Anyway, this lunchtime was the small link near the foot of the front page which represented the technology section's top story. Online and offline worlds merge gives a brief overview of Google Gears, a small browser add-in (still in beta, not for real-world use just yet, give it, oooh, a couple of days...). Here's why I think it's relevant to this blog...
At last year's MoodleMoot at the OU (come to think of it, when and where's this year's?) there was mention (by Martin Dougiamas, I believe) of an offline browser being developed (by Intel? maybe...). Anyway, I've not heard anything of it since then.
The aim of something like Google Gears appears to be to enable web applications (such as Google Maps, as envisaged in the BBC News report) to work offline, so that connectivity isn't an issue - presumably supporting synchronisation once the "client" is re-connected to the internet. Now the opportunity for a connection-needed application such as Moodle is obvious - it would allow students and staff to create, use, access resources offline and then synchronise their activity when they were reconnected - either at school or wherever. I don't think this would solve the "should all staff / pupils have internet access paid for by the government / the school / Someone Else" question, but it's an obvious route to take, particularly when thinking of the use of Moodle in developing countries, where connectivity might not be ubiquitous as is dreamed (and assumed) by many people in developing countries. In a ten point document against Moodle cicrculated among (I believe - please tell me if I'm wrong) some schools in Hertfordshire (and readable on the forums - registration required), a certain large supplier of a Learning Platform on the Becta Framework (RM) made this their fourth point (emphasis through SHOUTING IN CAPITALS all theirs, it would appear):

4. A MAJOR CONSIDERATION - [product name] can be run "offline"/stand-alone, so if all internet connectivity should go down for whatever reason, teaching and learning is not disrupted. Moodle is purely web-based - no internet, no Moodle.

Apart from all of the implications about the reliability you can expect by purchasing your broadband connection through this vendor (who do sell such a thing)... oh, anyway, I'm running out of steam.

Google Gears looks really interesting, it could open up something like Moodle to all sorts of other avenues, keep an eye on it. Maybe.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Students setting up a Moodle for their school... and more

An article from today's IT Week / Personal Computer World arrives in my inbox via Google Alerts.
Virtual Learning looks at VLEs from the IT industry end of things, and before you expect an article written in binary, it's a readable article spread over four pages, which "looks at the basics of VLEs and how they're changing modern education".
One of the most intriguing instances cited is on page 2 (in the "What about the students?" section):

Adding resources to a VLE is a challenge for many teachers, and in some schools students are being recruited to help. This is a win-win situation; the teacher’s immediate problem (“Can I get this Year Seven homework uploaded for tonight?”) is solved, and students have the chance to develop their IT skills. One school we know of has no official VLE, but two students have set up one using the free open source Moodle, hosted on a friend’s server.

This reflects something we've been recommended to schools as potential practice for a while now - use a computer club or Able, Gifted & Talented pupils to support staff in preparation of resources on Moodle - the flexibility of roles within the system and the ability to hide and then subsequently publish individual resources, sections or whole courses means that it's possible to establish a workflow system to enable such a situation to be managed.
The article itself is heavily Moodle-centric, but unintentionally buys into number 2 of the 10 Myths of Moodle almost at the last gasp (possibly due to its audience? Who knows...):

Then there is the software. Moodle is free, but you will need a network manager capable of setting up and running a MySQL database, Apache web server and Moodle itself.
Well, for what it's worth, any school worth its salt will either look to its Local Authority or Regional Broadband Consortium to provide this sort of expertise and support - no-one should run any mission-critical system while relying on any one person or piece of equipment in a corner of a room in their school (and if you're a school reading this, neither should you!).

Friday, May 18, 2007

A free Moodle digital pencil case course

OK, well this is my first foray into the giving courses away outside of Bucks world. I should probably do this via the Moodle Exchange (and maybe I might) but at the moment this will do.
One thing that implementing a VLE does is raise the bar in terms of what's expected of pupils and staff. When I was at school there were certain things I was expected to have in my pencil case - eraser, pencil sharpener, pencil, pen, protactor, set squares, ruler, etc. - what's the digital pencil case supposed to include nowadays?
One of our schools (Great Marlow) has a link on the front page of its Moodle with links to useful downloads which goes some way to thinking about this - equipping pupils and staff with the tools they will need, without requiring Dad (or Mum) to have the latest version of MS Office. Even the £100 student version is too much for some people to buy, so why not give them (and everyone) a leg up?
So, here's a course (~400kb file in Moodle 1.6.5+ backup format) which you can put into your Moodle which contains sections which will help your staff and pupils / students to get hold of those resources. They are broken down into categories - Office suites, word processors, presentation tools etc. - and are by no means exhaustive. However, if you fancy putting this on your Moodle site then please go ahead. If you use this and find it useful, please let me know by adding a comment to this post - if it's useful then I'll try and share some more (subject to time constraints of course, I have a day job somewhere...).

A few notes & tips:

  • Creative Commons Licensethis is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommerical-Share Alike 3.0 License - in English this means, please share it, please change it, but you have to attribute it to the author, any derivative versions must be shared with the same license and finally you can't make money from it (a note to SchoolAnywhere there - who are still bugging our primary schools with marketing emails (="spam" as far as the schools are concerned) saying "would you like to buy a Moodle from us?" - gentlemen, save your time and effort, they have this for free...);
  • the file is a zip file - but don't open it either in WinZip or XP's compressed files utility. It's designed to be uploaded to a Moodle site and then restored to a full course;
  • this was backed up from Moodle 1.6.3+ - which means you should be able to use it in any v1.7 or 1.8 site. To use it on your Moodle site use the Restore function to add it as a new course;
  • there are two hidden items at the top of the course - one is some notes for teachers and the other is a forum which you could show if you wanted pupils to share other tools which they had discovered. There's also a custom scale in the course for everyone to rate the tools suggested in this forum;
  • either enrol everyone on this course or allow anyone to enrol themselves (i.e. don't put an enrolment key on it). I wouldn't allow guests in, especially if you are using the forum to allow pupils to say things about tools they've used;
  • if you improve it let me know! There aren't sections on Audio Editing, Video Editing, Animation or Curriculum Tools etc. as I wanted to make a "vanilla" course which would cover essentials which most people would want / need to use at some point, so please feel free to add your own under the terms of the license - there are some blank sections at the foot of the course for this, or you could always add more under the Administration panel's Settings link;
  • finally, just to repeat, if you find it useful please add a comment to this post and say so, that way I know any appropriate future courses can be usefully shared.

Happy Moodling!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Little and large collaboration

Today (well, actually only this afternoon - how do these things all squeeze in?) was spent working at both ends of our spectrum of schools.

First up was a journey to Gawcott Infant School near Buckingham. The part of Bucks north of Aylesbury has Buckingham, Winslow (half way to Buckingham), Wing (on the way to Milton Keynes) and... well, that's not it but there's a plethora of small schools serving the villages dotted in between the few towns. Different organisations have different defintions of what counts as "small" - but under 100 pupils would be a good guide. An easy line to drop used to be that one of our small schools had more governors than pupils (which was, I believe, true at once stage) but that's no longer the case.
The situation now is that we have a number of "split" infant schools - schools which have joined together to make sure that they are viable, can share resources, etc. Gawcott is "joined" with Tingewick, for example and the need to communicate and share, particularly when:

  • staff work at both sites (and often part-time);
  • able pupils might be in a group of two or three and need challenge and resources from outside of the school;
  • a group of small schools might want to work together.
Geoff L - at left - and staff from small schools learning how to use BreezeThis ties in very nicely with some training that Geoff L and I are doing with FOSS (Federation of Small Schools) schools in Aylesbury Vale. We've done two of our four afternoons with a group of about 12 small schools on Moodle training, but today was about using Breeze/Connect to allow the schools to videoconference and share resources together.
Many of the same people who were at the Moodle training were there as well (when you have two members of staff in your school, it's a fairly safe bet that that's going to happen) and it went pretty well. Mike W (County ICT adviser) arrived for the first ten minutes and then went to work at home so that he could demonstrate how well the system works over a standard home ADSL connection. We hope to have a test meeting on Friday sometime with people in their own schools (or at home) and I'm quite excited about some of the ideas which could come out of this group, for whom communication and collaboration isn't a luxury but a necessity. I was supposed to have stayed until 3.30 but had to dash at about 3pm...
The next appointment was with the Secondary Consultative Board to explain county policy on VLEs and Learning Platforms (LPs). Buckinghamshire is a very different county from the last one I worked in (Herts next door) - schools are often fiercely independent in many ways and in terms of ICT (for example) there have been issues with broadband provision (due to a previously unsatisfactory service offered through a major provider via SEGfL) which were resolved over three years ago. Now (and I would say this, wouldn't I) we're in a position of having what's been described to me as "something that sounds suspiciously like joined up thinking" in terms of our developments about LPs, but if I was a school I'd understandably have reservations about a centrally hosted and offered service. Primaries are different - there are few primaries who could go through the rigmarole of the procurement process on their own, and I would suggest that this is could also be quite a task for a secondary school which has pupils still filling its classrooms and requiring attention.
The main points the board made were about sharing and collaboration - the things which will power any aggregated region-wide VLE or LP (and, ironically, are the same reasons for the small schools getting involved as described above) and how we should use Specialist Schools and ASTs (Advanced Skills Teachers), who are significantly funded by the Local Authority, to develop and share resources - with Specialist Schools leading the development of resources for all schools to support their specialism (and share this with other schools in a reciprocal fashion). This is an exciting development and with commitment from secondaries we could easily see (and even surpass) the sort of collaboration which is being undertaken in primaries. There are already many people talking about transition and cross-phase resources, wouldn't it be great to crack that soon?

Saturday, May 12, 2007

LSE to adopt Moodle as the new institutional VLE

Again, more boys playing in sheds, (that's Ianspeak for Using Moodle btw) this time it's the London School of Economics. Tut-tut, I don't know, when will they ever learn?

Why we use Moodle as a central web site

Offering schools a VLE as part of a learning platform offering is fairly straightforward - it's designed for that, so it's an obvious thing to do. However, when it comes to creating a central web site for something other than "normal" VLE functions - for example communicating information with schools, sharing resources among schools, there's no doubt that there are better tools available - Moodle is a CMS - but it's a Course Management System rather than a Content Management System, so not everything that a Web Content MS does is as easily achievable in Moodle.
However, it is a fairly straightforward task to customise a Moodle instance so it looks like a "normal" web site from the outside. You could use the additional Content Management System block in Moodle, but that's another story...
When I started in Bucks over three years ago (longer ago than this), one thing I was tasked with was creating a web site for sharing resources to support schools through the wealth of tasks and functions surrounding school improvement. I'd been part of a team in Hertfordshire doing something similar, but this was extremely labour-intensive and done in a "traditional" authored in Dreamweaver fashion, which became a victim of its own success. The County Council's bang-up-to-date web site (a "retro" look, so I believe) , which was edited by a few authors mainly using FrontPage, wasn't up to the task, and the forthcoming Content Management System didn't offer the flexibility required. As a service we were under pressure to conform to an unsustainable way of working ("prepare your information, pass it to someone who's got special web skills, they'll do the work (and due to the volume of work be the bottleneck which slows everything down), then the work will be published for you...") but I'd been down that road before and didn't fancy a return journey.
At some point in 2004, (don't ask, I don't remember) I stumbled across Moodle and it seemed that we could answer both the "we need a web site" and "our schools need something to support online learning" issues with one application. However, boyyyyyy was it difficult in convincing people that this was a way forward ("we already have a CMS, why do you need your own?"). In the face of much criticism and opposition from all sorts of places we launched the site and shortly afterwards began to offer a few schools their own Moodles as part of a pilot project.
At the time, I hadn't thought forward to the point where we are now, with schools having their own sites and starting to use Moodle in a way which underpinned, enhanced and broadened some of their learning and teaching. However, it turns out that the decision to use Moodle was unintentionally (and I emphasise that word) a very wise one. Here are some reasons why:

  • having a central area for curriculum resources which delegates the responsibility of publishing subject information to the subject advisers, consultants and associated admin staff means that, if they use it, they are already familiar with the VLE system being used in schools they're supporting - almost without realising it;
  • sharing resources with schools means that many staff are used to accessing a Moodle web site before they start using it themselves to create and share resources - essentially they get to experience some of the site as a consumer/pupil (on the BucksGfL site) before taking on the role of provider/teacher (on their own Moodle). This particularly applies in areas of the site where they are part of a community, using forums, links, glossaries, etc. in order to access and share resources;
  • with staff who are using Moodle to teach, we're encouraging them to share courses they've created in their own Moodle with other schools on a share-alike basis. Indeed, with our current batch of schools which we're training, we're making the sharing a condition of the fact that we're paying for staff's cover time to be at the training sessions. Our schools' Moodles are restricted by default so that only staff from a particular school can login to that school's Moodle. So how does a member of staff evaluate what a resource shared from another school looks like? Well, the fact that we've got a central Moodle means that we can Backup and Restore those shared courses from many schools to the central BucksGfL site, where staff from other schools can access them (as "pupils"), experience them, decide if they'd like to use them and then download them. Result? Staff know what you're getting and can save both time and effort by choosing things you know would work, rather than just sound like they might...

With the development of Every Child Matters and a move towards Children's Services, using the central Moodle site for council staff to share discussion, resources and opinion might provide the more forward-thinking within the Council to think creatively about how the same tool used in schools (where it already is active) could be used to ensure that pupils and staff are heard at all levels of an organisation like a Local Authority. Can this happen? Will it happen? Hold your breath...

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Becta Standards Review Workshop

Becta in CoventryToday I'm at the above Workshop held at the University of Warwick's Science Park's HTI Centre (i.e. just down the road from Becta). At the invitation of Robin Ball, a group of people from LAs, RBCs and a CLC are here to be involved in a workshop facilitated by Becta to (quotes):

(to influence) the remit and direction for both mandated and proposed standards and specifications. This activity aims to look at the current standards and those which are proposed for future development...
(to explore)these in greater detail by asking questions and seeking answers to verify and validate a rounded viewpoint. This will provide a clearer picture which advocates both educational need and technological potential

This appears to be related to a similar workshop held last week which was reported on EduGeek, though that seemed aimed at the technical side of things in schools. There's also some other activity to do with Content Providers under way as well, it would appear.

Who's here?

On the list are people from: Birmingham, CLEO, E2BN, the Northern Grid, Dudley Grid for Learning, WMNet, West Sussex, YHGfL, Warwickshire, LGfL and the SWGfL. No-one from the South East Grid for Learning apart from Mark Granger and Steve Snowball from West Sussex and yours truly.

It's being recorded, so maybe it'll be podcast? Ah, OK, the recording is so that everything's accurately noted down - it's being led by Robin Ball and Rebecca Smart from Becta and here's some of what what people present want out of the day:

  • an understanding of how relevant a discussion like this is;
  • how it will affect schools;
  • what being "outside of the Becta LP framework" might mean and how do standards affect that;
  • an understanding of the principles on which solutions in the Framework are based and how that might affect learning.
One of the main issues from a quick series of introductions has been What is the difference between functional and technical specifications? (and potentially: Why are they separated - if they are)?
Robin's delivering a quick overview of the framework, including the 2008 and 2010 targets. He talks about the LP Services Framework, which was:
  • informed by functional specs adn technical standards & specifications, not by a product
  • developed in consultation with education practitioners and industry
  • developed to support aggregate purchasing

Issues arising

There's some discussion about the 2008 target - is the whole availability issue - described as a target with no teeth ("so what if I don't do it?") - a get-out clause for Becta? For Local Authorities? For schools?
So why should we do this anyway? What difference does it make to schools and why should they use it? What will the effect of Learning Platforms be in ten years' time - and if there is any, will it be: measureable; affecting standards; changing education; what else? When everything is driven by a standards culture, if something has no impact then it will probably be resisted by institutions.
Bren Taylor from Birmingham is sharing developments in a proof of concept in the use of SIF in schools in Birmingham - taking data from individual school MIS systems, passing them to the LA MIS and in turn passing that information to DfES-level systems. This would work in the opposite direction for something like Looked After Children - where the information would be passed from LA MIS systems to school MIS systems and then into (for example) a VLE.
A quick break for lunch, then it's...

Standards and Specifications

AA room of people and a banana.fter lunch? Now that's dangerous...

The work being done by Becta looks at specifications and asks if they are still valid - things like IMS QTI, SCORM, Curriculum Online, UPN (Unique Pupil Number), Shibboleth. We're being aske the following questions about each specification (if we know what they are):

  • What are the perceived benefits for Education?
  • Is the specification considered relevant to Education?
  • Is the specification considered relevant the function?
  • Do you consider the specification to be stable? Well maintained?
  • What are its perceived strengths and/or weaknesses?
  • What are the issues?
  • How would (we) rate stakeholder appetite?
  • What are our views on the development options?

One concern from someone present is saying is that a particular vendor who I won't relate here is that that vendor's product doesn't support a particular specification (in particular QTI, specification R1) "out of the box" - i.e. some modifications are required in order for it to open a QTI-compliant piece of content in the Learning Platform.

There's a big issue around the difference between companies and their services and a product - the framework stipulates that companies should sell services rather than products. One important point is that, to by "through the framework" a school should establish a "mini competition" and invite all of the companies on the framework to tender - if a school goes directly to a supplier and asks "for a Learning Platform" then it will be buying outside of the framework and hence shouldn't be expected to be covered by its provisions - including interoperability, legacy issues, technical standards, etc. - and will effectively be on its own (of course, some schools will prefer that).

At the end of the day we've probably not covered much of the agenda set at the start of the day, but it's been an interesting and informative time - again, as with many events, it's the sort of thing where the chance to meet people in a similar position is as useful as the meeting itself.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Thinking about kids, teachers and time...

This post probably won't go anywhere, but I've been thinking about time - and how the pupils and teachers at a school might have different access to it for what they want to do.
This was prompted by a couple of things - first of all reading a discussion on the Flickr web site about (among other things) Microsoft's rumoured merger with / assimilation of / eating of Yahoo!, which would have implications for the Flickr community (already previously narked by upheaval resulting from Yahoo! acquiring the site anyway), and the rumour that Flickr will offer video posting in the near future.
Posters in the Flickr discussion were concerned with the difference between photography and film making - not even top quality films, but the sort of stuff which gets one edit (typically in Movie Maker or iMovie) and ends up on GoogTube. One observation was

let's face it, video content on average takes much longer to put together than photography, and who has the time apart from them and advertising companies to do this?...Hence the content in Youtube. (see context)
A response further down the thread (but not in response to the words quoted above) was
surely you aren't comparing the steady addition of new still photographers (most of whom fit into the same old demographics, and blend into flickr culture easily) to the sudden growth from an entirely new segment of videoheads (yes, I'm still talking about my 15-year-old son) (see context).
Second was the extra section of New York Times stories which came with yesterday's paper. This is always an entertaining section, I always thought the style of headlines from The Onion was specific to that publication, but reading the NYT section I realise that they're very representative. The main headline in the supplement was Always On, Never Alone and the it referred to the two lead articles which followed it and spilled over into the pages which followed. They're both on the NYT web site (subscription - free - required) - Social Networking Leaves the Confimes of the Computer (in the image on the right it's the story entitled With a Phone In Hand, Friends Are Never Far) and From Many Tweets, One Loud Voice on the Internet (entitled Thousands of Messages Let Users Share the Trivial). If you don't want to subscribe, I've PDFed the documents and they should be visible in the widget below.
Essentially the thrust of much of this is to do with what is perceived as "trivia" - inconsequential stuff which is part of life but not a significant part of it. This tends to be a view from a particular end of any given spectrum - institutions looking at kids' online activities, the NYT looking at web users' online habits and tools - with the telescope almost always around the "wrong" way - so that those activities being observed become smaller and less significant than they are / might be. Is this an accurate reflection - or just a very skewed view.
How this relates to the conversations on Flickr (in my mind, anyway) is something that's been obvious for a long while, that kids have time to do all of this stuff - and what's more, being teenagers or even pre-teens they are in a time of their lives when the trivial becomes so, so, much more significant than anyone who isn't them can appreciate. Teachers have no time, are pre-coccupied (quite rightly) with having a job, keeping that job, having a family and life, keeping both of those... oh, and directing learning for nn pupils each day. Kids have time to faff, make connections, experiment, Get Things Wrong - all before an audience which isn't just their peers. Want to give a global audience a view of your life? Use Twitter. Want to peek on what other people are doing? Be very afraid for the decline of society into "the trivial" and watch ten minutes of Twittervision. However, as you do so, think how significant some of what you read might be to those who post it.
A the-day-after-posting edit: here's the lead article from today's Technology Guardian section. It seems that that kids simply see technology as "as tool to help them to do what they want to do". Anyone think that this means they might have the critical facilities to not use it when it doesn't help? Crumbs, who'd have thought it?

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Augmented Reality? Feedback from the BBC Trust on Jam

As a follow-up to an earlier posting on BBC Jam...
First of all, if you don't know what Augmented Reality is, watch this - it's a commercial company's presentation, so it's not completely committed to education:

Now read about what Jam was going to do with AR - I was fortunate enough to see a demonstration of this at a Becta Expert Technology seminar - and it really is phenomenal (imagine what it looked like now if it looked like this three (three!) years ago...) It was presented by Adrian Woolard, from the BBC's Creative Unit - you can view the slides here while you listen to the audio from the presentation below...
Now, the Press Office which issued a glowing article on the BBC's use of AR is the same one which says it's time for it to bite the dust. But where did all this come from?
Just before Easter (at a date I can't quite remember - actually, it was the 20th March) I sent an email to the BBC Trust about the withdrawal of the Jam service. Nothing happened for a very long time. I heard all sorts of comments about why it was withdrawn:
  • because it was rubbish, or because the BBC thought it was rubbish
  • because it didn't have enough users, or they weren't "real" users
  • because other software suppliers in the industry would have controlled its direction
  • because the BBC recognised that it had stepped outside of its remit

and some others... anyway, things bubbled along on the Naacetalk list, I had a few conversations with people from Jam, from BESA and others who move in these sorts of circles. The BESAesque view appeared to be that the BBC had finally admitted that Jam was rubbish after all, while the insiders' view was that Becta, whose role had moved from an advisory one to a policymaking one, would instruct the BBC Trust to make Jam and its ilk subject to a content-focused version of the Becta Content Advisory Board - which would have representatives from [insert a list of names of large educational software suppliers here] who would basically set the direction and remit for the BBC - like asking Sir Alex to allow Arsène to pick his team and choose tactics I guess. A look at the schedule of the CAB shows that it didn't meet for ages in 2006 and then met in December (here's the agenda in PDF - shortly after this BBC Jam was frozen) and then it apparently met again in January, shortly after which Jam was suspended. In this situation it doesn't take too much thought to see why the Trust would pull the service and this situation was described as such in a letter to a recent edition of the Guardian's Link E-Learning section, but it appears not to be on the site - unless someone can find it for me!

Anyway, I eventually got a reply from the Trust... nothing gripping but it's instructive to read the minutes of various meetings of the BBC Trust which mention Jam (page 6 of 24-01-2007 and page 9 of 21-02-2007) - the phrase you're looking for is "witheld from public minutes" - which probably tells you all you'll find out about the real reasons...

4th May edit... thanks to Leon Cych, here's a QuickTime of Adrian Woolard showing a demo of the BBC AR software (which was available for a six month period for free):