The UK government today announced that Becta, a government body to “promote technology in learning”, is to be closed. Becta stands for “British Educational Communications and Technology Agency”.
I have mixed feelings about this, though in a period when severe cutbacks are required a body like Becta is hard to justify. I first came across Becta in the context of the debate about Office Open XML, Microsoft Office and Open Office. Becta, which claims to provide “rigorous research and evaluation”, came up with a full report on Microsoft Vista and Office 2007. These are products which I know a lot about, and I thought the report was poor. I liked the fact that Becta was positive towards open source; but disliked the uncritical advocacy which it seemed to indulge in at times.
My other observation comes from attendance as a speaker at the Education conferences organised by Forum Events. When I asked what delegates thought of Becta, I found that most attendees, in seminars on open source and on cloud computing, had not heard of it. I think the way IT is handled in education is a key issue for our industry and economy; but from my limited contact did not see evidence that Becta was achieving its goals.