Digital Maker Programme aims to nurture a new generation of digital natives with a passion to create with technology. Our goal is to grow a community of digital creators who are passionate in embracing a culture of innovation and co-creation to solve real-world problems.
Kids and adults today are extremely tech savvy, but most of their interaction with technology is one of consumption. As Singapore advances towards being a fully-fledged Smart Nation with the goal of making effective use of technology to enhance daily life, Inforcomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) recognises that it is not enough for Singapore citizens to know how to use and understand digital content and technology.
IMDA Digital Maker programme supports the Smart Nation vision as it aims to nurture a new generation of digital natives who are empowered to create with technology, so as to cultivate real-world problem solving, encourage digital creativity and innovation, as well as foster collaboration and co-creation with fellow digital makers. The programme introduces simple-to-use and open-ended technology that students and adults will find comfortable to use, known as the micro:bit. Through this micro-controller, everyone has the opportunity to explore the possibilities of digital making.
1) Digital Making in Schools
The programme calls out to all primary and secondary schools to sign up, where they are given micro:bits for up to one level of students, approximately 200 to 300 micro:bits per school. Schools can determine which level(s) they want to introduce the micro:bits to (e.g. for a specific level or rotate across levels each term) and how they want to use it (e.g. for their Design and Technology lessons). Through a 1.5-day Educators Workshop provided by Microsoft through trainers like Micromaker Education, Tinker Tanker and Zenitant, teachers learn basic coding on micro:bit, connecting with various sensors, as well as making a project related to their subjects. One of the key focus of the workshop is relating the use of micro:bits to how they can be applied in various subjects, and not just about learning how to code.
2) Building Digital Maker communities
With the aim to reach out to adults, the Digital Maker programme also offers introductory digital making workshops held in the community for everyone to have an opportunity to create with technology. Working with various community partners like National Library Board, SkillsFuture Singapore and self-help groups, 2-hour Digital Maker workshops are made available to members of the public.
ScienceScope was heavily involved with the BBC micro:bit project to bring one million micro:bits to students across the UK. The expertise gained throughout the project enabled us to take the concept worldwide starting with Singapore.
ScienceScope also had a contract in Singapore to run an IoT@School project. In August 2015, with the BBC’s permission, we started talking to IMDA, Infocomm Media Development Authority, a statutory board of the Singapore government, under the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) about the micro:bit. They were very excited by the micro:bit and what it could do for education in Singapore. The department we spoke to in IMDA has the task of preparing people in Singapore for the digital society, and they work closely with the Ministry of Education (MOE). In November 2015, we took out an early micro:bit prototype to show IMDA and in February 2016 we lead a small proof of concept with teachers and students from 3 schools. The aim was to convince people about the value of the micro:bit’s educational experience. In April, after the February proof of concept, first phase trials took place in schools who had expressed a keen interest in taking part. ScienceScope supplied 250 micro:bits for this trial across 5 schools, which included training given by SMEs in Singapore. There was very positive feedback from this trial.
The micro:bit was introduced as a curricula tool to support education generally, both in lessons and in cross-curricula activities in schools. To support this, IMDA launched the Digital Maker programme that would supply both micro:bits free of charge, and training to schools. The Digital Maker Programme was kicked of in March 2017 with an open tender (specifying a coding device but not micro:bit specifically) to supply and distribute the micro:bits to schools which was won by ScienceScope and its partner company in Singapore, Home-Fix. The tender was for 100,000 micro:bits in two stages – an initial 35,000 with an option for another 65,000. The offer has been publicised to schools which then have to request them (a pull process as opposed to the push process of the original BBC project). Typically a school in Singapore can request about 300 micro:bits (to cover the school cohort at one academic level).