We've got some very good news. Over the next few months we're going to be working with Becta and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (which usually gets shortened to BIS) to improve School of Everything and make it available to lots more people.
Back in November, Becta and BIS put out a call to help them build an 'Informal Adult Learning Web Portal' (which even they admit is a bit of a mouthful). This comes from a government white paper that was published last year called The Learning Revolution all about how the Government could support informal adult learning. Informal learning covers all sorts of things like learning a language, singing lessons, car maintenance, a guided walk, learning to dance or researching a subject on-line.
Here's why they think it's important:
"Informal learning can at its best transform people’s lives. Whether it’s personal fulfilment, keeping active and independent into old age, gaining increased confidence or opening a door to further opportunities, informal learning contributes hugely to the health and well-being of individuals and wider society."
That's what we think too.
So we wrote a proposal, sent it off (registered mail don't you know), popped on a train to Coventry for an interview and waited to find out. It didn't take very long. We got the phone call saying that we'd got the contract just before our Christmas party. That was nice.
We're a bit bashful so here's what Christine Lewis from Becta told us about why they awarded us the contract:
"School of Everything has already proved itself as a platform so we don't need to start from scratch. It already has hundreds of thousands of unique visitors a month and this is now set to get much bigger. It uses web 2.0 social tools, has access to the open source development community and will bring a simple, easy to use solution for everyone which is what The Learning Revolution is all about. At Becta we talk about Next Generation Learning - this is an excellent example of what you can do with technology to make a really big impact for learners. I haven’t been this excited for ages!"
The main changes you'll notice to School of Everything will be:
- You'll be able to find free or low-cost venues to run classes or meet up with other people to learn stuff
- You'll be able to upload and find more resources related to the subjects you're interested in (videos, documents, images... all that kind of thing)
- You'll be able to find courses near you as well as individual lessons and teachers for particular subjects
- You'll also be able to embed School of Everything search widgets on other websites
For us, it means we can do some things we'd always wanted to do a bit faster and that we get to work with lots of great people from the Learning Revolution community that's built up. Hopefully it will also mean that lots more people will be able to teach and learn new things in all kinds of different subjects across the UK.
Anyway, we've promised we'll get all the above done by the end of March so we'd better get back to work!