The BBC Make It Digital (MID) course is a non-accredited, short-term course run by Belfast Met and BBC Northern Ireland. BBC MID offers free, bespoke training in a highly competitive sector to build student’s confidence and exposure to the creative industry. BBC MID was commissioned by the BBC and funded by Accenture with the goal of encouraging young people aged 16-24 in the NEETs category to consider a career in the creative industries.
Between September 2016 and March 2018 Belfast Met collaborated with Accenture and BBC Northern Ireland, running six cohorts of BBC Make It Digital through an industry education partnership. The program was initially aimed at young people, under 25 in the NEETs category (not in employment, education or training) but was then broadened to include long term unemployed / economically inactive people aged 25 or above.
Belfast Met was able to provide lecturers seasoned in media expertise for this course, which gave students confidence and networking opportunities. Over six cohorts, the course was taught by five lecturers, each having a different speciality in the media industry:
Colin Armstrong - Graphic design
Willis McBriar - Filming and editing
Michelle Napier - CV writing, news room, networking
Nigel Humphreys - Web design and social media
Joe McStravick - Film Director
The students developed their own: website, LinkedIn profile, online CV and business cards. They recorded and edited their own films using Adobe Premier and Photoshop. They also competed job searches and developed interview skills. The course provided a supportive learning environment and opportunities for expanding their soft skills/ employability skills as well as their digital skill set. At the end of each course, Emma Dunseith, Executive Producer at BBC Northern Ireland, gave the students a skills workshop. This included; how to register for jobs with the BBC, the BBC recruitment process and skills which the BBC look for in candidates. This was always conducted in small, interactive groups on graduation day.
BBC NI offered placements to students at the BBC and at the Stendhal festival. They worked on traditional media tasks such as radio and camera work, as well as social media live streaming.
Hundreds of people contacted the team to enquire about the course. Over six cohorts, 106 enrolled; of which 51 were women, 54 were men and one was gender neutral.
The NEETs category required additional support to encourage attendance. We therefore added the following elements to support NEETs students
- Small classes which allowed students to gain one to one time with lecturers
- Financial incentives such as daily lunches and a taxi service from the city centre to e3 encouraged students to attend and continue attendance
- Adapting course content to suit the learners
- Part-time course programme ran Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. This allowed students to attend other commitments or to work part-time
The team worked closely with Belfast Met’s Centre of Inclusive Learning Development (CILD) so that all students who requested assistance received a one to one meeting with an advisor from the CILD and suitable adjustments were made. The additional support required ranged from pastoral care and mental health support to access for an electronic wheelchair and the student’s assistants.
BBC MID won the Creative Cultural Skills award for best Industry Education Partnership. This was presented by Marie Louise Muir to Emma Dunseith in March 2018. There were various trips as part of the course. Students went to BBC studios, Winterfell (Game of thrones set), Stendhall Festival and Donaghadee Lifeboat. The trips were relevant to the subject, enjoyable and productive.
Lecturers noticed high instances of peer to peer learning on all courses which developed the group working capabilities of the students.
- Course content – There were clear learning outcomes and relevant course content and materials developed for the programme and students appreciated the high degree of structure for some elements. It was recognised however that sufficient flexibility needed to be built in to allow lecturers to accommodate different ability levels and learning styles as well as explore particular areas of interest in more depth.
- Rooms – the course required appropriate information technology resources and media software for effective delivery.
- Challenging behaviour - Staff requested more support and training from the college to manage risks arising from challenging behaviour. These incidents were rare and did not significantly impact the experience of learners, but as the course is creative, of relatively short duration and open to all levels, it was recognised that relevant elements of a youth work approach would be beneficial for learners and staff. Similarly signposting to other services and sources of assistance for learners was also put in place.
- Sustainability - We have permission to use BBC MID materials which we will incorporate into another project called Futures, targeting disadvantaged young adults. This includes exploring the potential in this course being taught on free, cloud based software. This would allow the students to learn in regular classrooms and from home / other locations and not just in dedicated IT suites.
Belfast Met is the largest and longest established Further and Higher Education College in Northern Ireland. Founded in 1906, the college works at a strategic level to achieve its dual mandate of economic development and social inclusion. The College launched its new Centre for Economic Development and Social Inclusion (CEDSI) in June 2018 which brings together a cross-College capability in supporting business development, graduate pre-employment programmes, community programmes and social enterprise, research and development for business and training solutions for the long-term unemployed and economically inactive and for young people not currently in education, training or employment. The Make It Digital programme fits with the College’s wider programme of work to encourage and educate young people, parents, teachers and employers about the career pathways into the IT industry.
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