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BBC take digital making mainstream with 'Make It Digital'

For several years we’ve been working to support the spread of digital making, and this morning another huge step was taken towards taking this activity truly into the mainstream with the launch of ‘Make It Digital’ from the BBC.

BBC director-general Tony Hall today launched this cross platform BBC initiative to engage young people with digitally creative activities. The BBC has a long history of supporting the development of skills in this area, going back to the well know ‘BBC Micro’ initiative engaging audiences in computer programming in the 1980s. For more on the fascinating lessons from that work, see our publication on 'The Legacy of the BBC Micro'.

In our 'Young digital makers' report published last week we set out our ambitions to bring digital making into the mainstream, growing awareness of the benefits and opportunities for young people to get creative with technology. The BBC share many of these ambitions, and their wide audience reach and ability to create high quality media and tools is a welcome addition to the field of organisations supporting creative activities with technology.

They will be running a season of programmes and online activity using well known brands such as Dr. Who, Eastenders and Radio 1, a range of links with formal education such as Live Lessons and Bitesize resources, and partnerships with many organisations working in digital making.

Support from adults for such activity is already high. Our surveys of parents and carers found that 89% of them think digital making is  a worthwhile activity, with similarly large proportions saying they thought it was important for future jobs and something they would encourage. 53% report acting directly on these attitudes and spending money on resources to support their children in their interest in making.

Although enthusiasm and interest is there, far smaller proportions of adults feel informed enough to direct the young people in their lives to opportunities to develop their interests and diversify their digital creations. Only 12% in our survey said they could signpost young people towards either online resources or face to face clubs and activities for digital making. With the BBC bringing such opportunities and resources into mainstream media, this is set to change.

With Make It Digital formally launching today, the BBC have already contributed some great resources to the field. Their Dr Who themed ‘The Doctor and the Daleks’ online game uses the well known brand to introduce children to logical instructions and programming concepts. The ‘Make It: Technobabble’ tool allows young people to begin to create their own interactive games.

There is lots to do before we achieve our prediction of every young person in the UK making and sharing something digital in 2015. However, with the BBC getting behind the cause with Make It Digital, that prediction is looking ever closer to reality.

Image: CC BY NC SA Ransomtech

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Oliver Quinlan

Oliver Quinlan

Oliver Quinlan

Senior Research Manager, Raspberry Pi Foundation

Oliver was a programme manager for Nesta’s digital education projects, exploring ways in which digital technologies can transform learning and teaching. He is now Senior Research Man...

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