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Saul Nassé: Building our Knowledge & Learning product

Saul Nassé

When we launched the BBC’s educational vision last year, we aimed high.  We are here to inspire a life full of learning for all our audiences.  We’ve launched some inspiring projects since then, from a competition for primary schoolchildren to write a mini Doctor Who episode, to the Stargazing Live series with Brian Cox which had grown-ups calling us to say they now wanted to be astronauts.

But if we are truly to fulfil our vision, we need to find a way of unlocking the educational potential in all that we create, connecting opportunities for learning right across the BBC.  That is why I am so excited by our latest plans to build one place for all our factual and educational content online.  At the moment we have a series of often brilliant, but frequently disconnected websites that don’t add up to more than the sum of their parts.  When we launch our new knowledge and learning product next year, we will be able to create learning journeys right across all our factual content and indeed the whole of BBC Online.

We don’t have a name for it yet, but we know that it will learn from the best of what we do now.  The wonderful combination of interactivity and testing on Bitesize; the topicality and imagery of Nature; the seamlessness of Food from your computer to your phone; and the way Lab UK can create experiments that unlock stories across a huge range of subjects.

The product will be a unified place for our knowledge and learning content, but it will also be ubiquitous across BBC Online, so that we can create journeys of learning that might start at CBBC and end on BBC News.  This will mean creating tools that can work across the whole site, whether it’s a timeline to organise our content, or a place for people to store what they’ve learned.

We will be running the new product from our new Learning headquarters in MediaCityUK in Salford, where we move next month.  Executive Editor Chris Sizemore will be in charge of the central team that sets the editorial direction, while people in Sinead Rocks’ excellent new production team will create much of the content.  We will have BBC production hubs in Bristol and London, and will be working with our Nations colleagues too.

External suppliers will be key to the success of the product – we’ll be spending 25% of our £13.2M content budget with them in 2012/13.  We’re not looking for ideas for new websites in the way we were in the past, it will be more a case of our contracting suppliers to build particular sections of the product, or create specific packages of content.  We will run this according to BBC Online’s external supply strategy, and expect to tender for much of the work.

We’ll continue as now to commission through Learning both television programmes like Turn Back Time and events like the Wallace and Gromit’s World of Inventions Roadshow. We will also commission bespoke packages of additional video for around four programmes a year – like the How To science packages we created with the Bang Goes The Theory presenters.   Our new executive producer for development, Cerys Griffiths, will be the contact for indies for such proposals.

There is loads of work to do to create our ambitious new knowledge and learning product.  As with our vision for learning, we’re aiming high.

Saul NasséController of BBC Learning

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