Technology

BBC wants to create nation of digital makers

Dr Who game maker
Image caption Users can make games using Doctor Who characters

The BBC has launched its Make it Digital season with a website that it hopes will turn its audience into digital makers.

It is part of a nationwide push to increase digital skills in the UK.

The mixital website offers people the chance to create a range of content from popular BBC brands such as Strictly Come Dancing, Doctor Who and EastEnders.

It also launched a month of digital content on online, TV and radio.

Head of digital creativity Martin Wilson said that it was a "new direction for the BBC".

"We are handing over creativity tools and BBC assets to the audience, and they can make their own BBC," he said.

The project grew out of a game-making tool developed for the programme Technobabble, which attracted huge interest from its audience of under-12s.

"Youngsters made 250,000 games. We were bowled over and felt it proved that young people have a great appetite for making things digitally," said Mr Wilson.

According to innovation charity Nesta, more than 80% of schoolchildren have already made digital content, but most of this takes place inside schools.

A report from the Tech Partnership network of employers, launched to coincide with the BBC's announcements, found:

  • The number of tech specialists in the UK is forecast to grow at almost four times that of the workforce as a whole in next 10 years
  • Jobs most in demand include programmers, developers and web designers - predicted to increase by more than 40% over same period
  • Computer games publishing set to rise by 25%

Strictly robots

Image caption Vizii will allow people to mix tracks from up and coming bands with classical ones

The mixital website gives youngsters the chance to make their own games, music and stories using BBC assets from popular programmes.

It will publish a range of maker kits in the coming weeks including:

  • EastEnders soap factory - create animated, comic-style content based on the drama
  • Strictly Come Dancing - create dance routines for up to five Strictly robots
  • Doctor Who game maker - create and share adventures.
Image caption The EastEnders toolkit includes a digital Queen Victoria pub

Mr Wilson hopes using such BBC brands will engage its younger audience.

"Teenagers spend all day on their tablets looking at stuff. This takes the tablet and makes it creative," he said.

He promised the technology was very simple to use - most of it can be dragged and dropped - and users would "learn as they go".

"We are still in learning mode, it will be interesting to see what people create," he said.

AI month

Earlier this year, the BBC launched the Micro Bit, a tiny programmable computer.

It will be rolled out to one million Year 7 pupils this term and is already being test-driven by a group of teachers.

As part of its Make it Digital season, the BBC also announced a raft of TV and radio programmes, including documentaries on algorithms and video gaming.

Meanwhile, a season of content around the topic of artificial intelligence (AI) is being kicked off online on 11 September, with programmes on TV and radio to follow.

The BBC is also launching an interactive tool - Digital Matchr - to help people match their skills to specific jobs.

All of the new content is available via the BBC's Make it Digital website.

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