Schools Minister Jim Knight has officially launched the first nationwide Open Source project, the National Digital Resource Bank (NDRB). The new platform will benefit all UK schools that have invested in technologies for putting lessons, coursework and homework online but do not have the digital content to fill them.
The NDRB is based upon Agrega, a content repository technology funded by the Spanish government and released under the EUPL, the 'European Union Public Licence'.
From day one, £30m worth of Creative Commons licensed publicly-funded content will be available through the NDRB, which will grow rapidly as further content is contributed.
The announcement comes after increasing cross-party political support for the greater use of Open Source software and open standards in public sector IT procurement.
The nature of the NDRB project means that taxpayers money will be used in the most efficient way as, once created, content is shared across UK schools.
The NDRB is an example of best practice in inter-governmental collaboration and shows how the European public sector can benefit from the Open Source development and cost-sharing model.
The new platform will be managed by the North West Learning Grid and technical support will be provided by Sirius, the UK's only OGC and Becta accredited Open Source supplier.
Jim Knight, Schools Minister said: “A partnership with the Spanish Telecommunications and Information Society has been signed ... to develop a National Digital Resource Bank, to create, search for, and share digital content. The UK is renowned for excellence in ICT infrastructure, development of Digital Resources, and willingness to work with other countries and has combined these three elements in this landmark project.”
Gary Clawson, CEO at the North West Learning Grid said: “The National Digital Resource Bank is the missing link in UK Digital Resource Strategy. We have a great infrastructure, we have lots of media rich resources and we have implemented Learning Platforms in every schools. But despite this, schools have been unable to share resources with other schools because of different technical solutions implemented across different Local Authorities.”
Mark Taylor, CEO, Sirius Corporation said: “The National Digital Resource Bank is a visionary national project, and the first to rely entirely on Open Source, Open Standards and Open Content. It shows how these technologies can be used in the Public Sector to reduce the risks associated with national IT projects whilst massively reducing their costs.”
*About National Digital Resource Bank*
The National Digital Resource Bank (NDRB) is a bank of resources that are available, under a creative commons non-commercial share-alike license, that have been mapped and tagged and made suitable for use with learning platforms. The bank of resources is available free to any local authority wishing to become a member of the scheme and willing to contribute their own publicly funded resources. Resources range from, tutorials, activities and interactive games covering entire courses to individual photographs, audio clips and worksheets.
The cost of developing and maintaining NDRB is estimated to be less than Â£400,000 per annum which represents less than a quarter of a percent of current annual ICT investment in schools.
The technology behind the National Digital Resource Bank is 'Agrega', a multi-million Euro open source development funded by the Spanish government. The software is licensed under the General Public Licence version 2 (GPL2). For information about open source licences visit www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html
About North West Learning Grid
North West Learning Grid is a consortium of eighteen Local Authorities and more than 2,000 schools, working in partnership to improve the process and management of learning using the latest information and communication technologies. Central to its activities is the provision of e-learning content, much of which is free to access to all schools and their learners. As a National Education Network provider, North West Learning Grid also maintains broadband connectivity between its 18 member authorities and the National Backbone provided by JANET(UK). For more information visit www.nwlg.org or call Gary Clawson on +44 7799 374 075.
About Sirius Corporation plc
Sirius Corporation plc is a leading European IT services group specialising in enterprise-class Open Source infrastructure solutions including databases, email systems, file & print, directory services, and cross-platform authentication. The company is the only Becta-accredited provider of open source software and services to schools in the UK.