Professor David Gauntlett’s research into digital platforms, which enable people to make and share creative material online, has led to developments at organisations including the BBC, S4C and the LEGO Group.

Close up on a lego environment

 

Based in the Communications and Media Research Institute (rated as the leading media and communication research centre in the UK, RAE 2008) at the University of Westminster, this research concerns the value of digital platforms for fostering creativity. This work enables citizens to contribute to culture, while helping businesses to offer something of value to their customers.

Professor Gauntlett’s research provides evidence that in order to be effective, such platforms should embrace all the kinds of participation that users wish to engage in; they should enable identifiable, authored contributions which can be recognised and responded to by others, and should seek to foster supportive conversations, storytelling, and learning within communities of enthusiasts.

The research has had an impact on the media and cultural industries, specifically in commissioning processes at BBC Children’s; digital media policy and overall corporate aims at S4C (the Welsh-language public television service); and policy, training and product development at the LEGO Group. He has co-produced products, including a training pack which has been used by every new LEGO employee in Denmark since 2009, and the ‘open source’ release of the consultancy process for businesses, LEGO Serious Play. His work on digital opportunities for LEGO fed into LEGO Life of George, which was shortlisted for the ‘e-Connected Toy of the Year’ award, 2013.

Gauntlett has peer-reviewed academic publications and his work has appeared in books including the widely-cited Making is Connecting (2011). He has won successive awards from the UK Research Councils, including five awards from the Arts and Humanities Research Council since 2007. He uses a range of media to engage the public with his research, and YouTube videos about his work have been viewed 150,000 times.

 

Professor Gauntlett’s research helped us to develop new ideas for connecting the digital and physical realms with LEGO tools. His work has been central to a number of LEGO reports exploring creativity, play and learning in the 21st century. This thinking feeds into strategy at the very top of our organization.

Cecilia Weckström, Head of LEGO.com, The LEGO Group, Denmark

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Supported by: AHRC, EPSRC, BBC Pilot Knowledge Exchange Programme Scheme