Back in November 2012, together with Nominet Trust and Mozilla, we put out an open call for ideas to significantly increase the number of young people who participate in digital making activities.
In April 2013, we announced the seven organisations we would be supporting, who will receive a share of the £260,000 fund - up to £50,000 each - to scale their projects and reach more young people. Find out more about the projects.
Find out a little more about the Digital Makers open call below.
In the 21st Century digital technologies are ubiquitous. They go beyond the smartphone in your pocket and the computer at home. Digital technologies touch every aspect of life and business including finance, cutting edge medicine, engineering and entertainment. Even day-to-day physical objects from cars to fridges are becoming digital devices.
Our young people need to understand how digital technologies work and how they can use them to solve problems and express themselves; similarly they need to understand how they are constructed to be aware of how digital technologies affect their lives. We think the most effective way to learn this is through digital making.
Digital making is the creative process of making a product or digital artefact - from websites, apps, games, and 3D animations to physical objects driven by microcontrollers.
Digital making will often mean using coding and programming skills as well as the creative use of digital tools to make new products. Digital making skills are fundamentally underpinned by an understanding of computational thinking but may also include things like creative teamwork, problem solving, engineering and design in order to build new technologies.
We also think making things is fun and inspiring.
We were looking to support initiatives that invited mass participation and used young people's interests and passions to drive demand from new audiences to become creators, not just consumers of digital technologies. We were looking for applications from organisations that had the ability to engage thousands of young people in digital making activities
We wanted to support partners who were noisy advocates for the importance of digital making; who would use all the channels available to them to shout about and promote their projects.
We also wanted to support initiatives that had already been prototyped - not concept ideas. All applications were scored against the Core Criteria. We also compiled the following list of features to keep in mind when completing the application.
Features to keep in mind
Collaboration, peer-based learning and sharing: Digital technologies are built in teams and frequently use open resources and knowledge from an international community. We're interested in approaches that encourage teamwork and celebrate different skills such as programming, design, content production or engineering. We're also keen to see ways of enabling young people to share their knowledge, skills and products with each other.
Assets that can be widely shared, replicated and repurposed: We want to see applications for open resources that can achieve maximum impact by being shared and replicated by other members of the digital maker community in different contexts around the country; for example, online products, project resources, event models or curricula which could be used in homes, classes, clubs or hackjams anywhere.
The web as a platform: The worldwide web is the most open platform for participation we have. How can we use the open tools and communities it provides access to in order to drive participation in creating new products and creative projects online?
A strong audience focus: Tell us who your initiative is aimed at, how they will find it and why should they be interested. How does your initiative use what you know about that audience to encourage them to take part? Does your proposal rely on a pre-existing interest in digital creation, or does it build on other interests (e.g. music, fashion, sport, games, data-sets) to encourage participation from different groups?
Sustainability: It is important to us that we support initiatives that have the potential to grow and thrive beyond this funds initial investment. We are open to different models for sustainability including commercial for-profit businesses. One-off interventions would need extraordinary power and reach to attract funding.
Clear opportunities for skills progression: We're interested in how Digital Makers move from one level of interest and participation to the next. We'd like to see applications that give a strong sense of where the participant should go next to take their interest to the next level, and how this would be facilitated. We're also interested in projects aimed at helping Digital Makers who have reached one level of mastery progress to the next.
New partnerships to achieve goals: Openness and partnership are important values to us. We're interested in proposals from new partnerships that find new routes to drive participation in digital making. Good examples of this include Mozilla's work with the Zoological Society to create their popular Thimble project, or Nesta's partnership with the Scout Association to reinvent their IT activities with a focus on digital making.