Thanks for the very interview. Having been involved in a large-scale public sector e-learning programme in the early 2000's and on you're spot on about the ability of the 'centre' to understand what is possible on what budget. The working practice we adopted was to work with the (mainly) digitally excluded on what interested them and then scaffold up, out and round from that - very often doing flipping between analogue and digital based tasks. A few of these became self-sustaining communities and are still around.
Personally I'm all for a more agile, experiment based approach to learning (it's what engages me) but i'm not convinced that authority would preclude an agile approach as you describe it.