Namely, why weren’t the general public able to understand and enjoy the world-leading research that goes on in our universities?
We wanted to create a one-stop shop for public outreach in academia. After much trial and error and the addition of two more teammates from Imperial College London, our website was launched in the summer of 2015.
About Know it Wall
Know it Wall allows the general public to understand the research being carried out at universities by giving them audio-documentaries, articles and videos to enjoy.
The process is simple: academics who are interested in getting their work “out there” simply write us a piece of around 1000 words, and we take care of the rest.
The competition process
It was Miguel who first found out about Jisc and the Summer of Student Innovation.
After a bit of research we realised that Jisc would be the perfect organisation to help us take Know it Wall to the next level. A charity dedicated to helping start-ups in the education and technology sector? Perfect!
Introducing our idea
The first stage of the competition involved making a short video that described our idea and breaking the threshold of 250 votes in order to be considered for the next round of the competition.
After making our video and pushing it to just about everyone we knew (and some we didn’t!) we managed to get 302 votes and were invited to a four-day design sprint in Birmingham. We were also given £2000; money that we immediately put to use in creating our first video (up until then, we had only been able to create audio documentaries and text).
Further development: design sprints
I think I can confidently say that the design sprint in Birmingham was one of the most rewarding and exciting moments of my time working on Know it Wall.
We had the chance to work intensively on the project that we had been dedicated to for two years, making great strides in design and getting great feedback from those around us, but it was at the design sprint that we realised the depth of knowledge and experience that Jisc had with, crucially, a great willingness to help our idea succeed.
For example, our mentor Andy Stewart thought nothing of setting me up on a Skype call with Jisc’s group social media manager Tom Mitchell, who helped us develop a coherent social media strategy – something we had been lacking.
Jeremie, on the other hand, spent time chatting to Jisc's subject specialist in technology and the law, John Kelly, who advised us on several legal aspects of our project.
As a result, we started to get very serious about trying to get further support from Jisc.
The final pitch
A final pitch day was set for mid-August, and we prepared intensively for it. Not only did we want to present our idea in the best way possible, we also wanted to debut the video that we had made with the money Jisc gave us to show what we could do with further support.
It was nerve-wracking, but our preparation paid off and the pitch went smoothly.
The perfect result
To our delight, we found out in the following week that we had been given a further £10,000 in funding to help us develop Know it Wall and take it to the next level.
The future of Know it Wall
Our plan now is to make further videos with the money that Jisc has given us, alongside continuing to create audio and text content.
With the support that we are now receiving, I’m confident that Know it Wall can become the go-to place for public outreach in academia.
Look out for future competitions
If you have an idea, I would strongly encourage you to consider applying to the Summer of Student Innovation.
It’s exciting as well as hard work. It’s fun as well as challenging. But, above all, it will give you a platform upon which you can grow your idea, and in the process, you’ll learn a great deal.
Other Know it Wall team members are Miguel F. Dos Santos, Jeremie Coullon, Vidish Athavale and Peter Shatwell.