Make it Digital is the BBC’s big education project for 2105 – its aim is to get the nation talking about digital creativity, inspire a new generation for a digital future and shine a light on the innovative work of entrepreneurs and industry.
Hands on activity is key too; the BBC - alongside partners - is teaching people how to code, build games, apps and learn new digital skills – skills which unleash potential for the digital economy to flourish.
Make it Digital is a priority project given the UK skills shortage and statistics state that in 15 years’ time, the numbers of people working in technology look set to grow by around 40 per cent.The problem is the gap in our ability and employability for jobs in the digital sector across the UK. In Northern Ireland we’re very aware of this issue, with our fast growing Knowledge Economy.
Tony Hall, the BBC’s Director-General, as the Make It Digital project sponsoracknowledges that the BBC has a great role to play in ensuring the UK has enough people with the right skills for the future. The BBC has always been an innovator - the radio company that pioneered television and the broadcaster which is helping to shapethe online world.
In the 1980s the BBC put theMicrocomputer into most schools in the country. The BBC Micro changed lives and inspired millions;Make It Digital aspires to channel that same spirit today. This time round, the Micro Bit will be distributed to schools across the UK. This personal coding device will be presented free to every child in year 7 - 1 million devices in total.
Currently being manufactured, the Micro Bit aims to give children an exciting and engaging introduction to coding, help them realise their early potential and, ultimately, put a new generation back in control of technology. This entry level coding device will be distributed in the autumn.
Make it Digital is working with more than 50 organisations across the year to educate millions of children, train thousands of unemployed young people and use our collective powers to bring the wonders of technology to everybody.
Partners include BT, Google, Microsoft, Decoded, Free:Formers, FutureLearn, Go On UK,Codeclub, iDEA, Teentech and Young Rewired State.
In Northern Ireland we’ve joined forced with a number of organisations including The Northern Ireland Science Park, Sentinus, FabLab, Farset Labs, Ulster Rugby, PSNI,Queen’s University, Open University, University of Ulster, NEELB and Youth Enterprise Northern Ireland.
Make It Digital is for everybody – we want to help all audiences see how the UK has helped shape the digital world, why digital skills matter and their growing importance to our future.
We want to inspire people, with a particular focus on young people and girls, to get involved and take their first steps. We also want to help teachers and parents understand the value of digital, so they can encourage and support children too.
A season of dedicated BBC programmes and online activity.
The Make It Digital website is the project hub, showcasing all activity and resources. This includes Bitesizecurriculum resources and iWonder Guides for adults.
Northern Ireland content can be found at bbc.co.uk/digitalni
A Make It Digital presence will be found right across BBC programming including tie-ins with EastEnders, The One Show, Children In Need, Dr Who, Match of the Day and AppsoluteGenuis (CBBC)
ThirtyMake it Digital,all ageseducation events, will run throughout the year. BBC Northern Ireland hosted the first event at BBC Blackstaff Studios. 5000 visitors, ranging in age from 6 months to 87 years old, came together to create, experiment with ideas, be inspired, to learn and have fun. We believe that events like these can ignite a spark and passion for life.
With such a positive response to our first event, BBC Northern Ireland has plans for two more large scale events this year; as part of the Belfast Maritime Festival in July and at CultureTech in September.
A BBC Make it Digital traineeship is up and running in partnerships with Department for Work & Pensions and Skills Funding Agency. 5000 unemployed young people will benefit from the largest scheme of its kind.
Unfortunately it was not possible to roll out this scheme in Northern Ireland but there are a number of opportunities here, including the BBC Northern Ireland/ Northern Ireland Screen Aim High Trainee Scheme. This 18 month paid training/placement scheme will have a digital focus this year.
Make It Digital Legacy
Make it Digitalhas its major focus in 2015 but we expect much of work to continue well beyond.
We aim to make a huge difference from our activity this year - with up to 5000 digital trainees, an entire year group of children who take their first steps with a Micro Bit, and everybody else we can inspire to get involved through our programmes. The broad range of partnerships will doubtless open doors to new projects and opportunities in future.