COMPUTER BOX was founded in 1987. The idea behind the teaching organisation is based on a very simple principle. Once people have confidence, then they begin to take control of their own learning.
Computer Box began by working with unemployed people at the Brighton Unemployed Centre. Courses developed between 1987 and 1989 proved to be popular. A business was founded based on some of the original teaching programmes.
A BBC2 programme in the Open Space series featured the courses and work with unemployed people (1988).
Computer Box courses were originally developed for graduates who wanted to learn professional level skills.In particular, students from what was Brighton Polytechnic, fresh from their degrees utilised Computer Box to convert their illustration and design skills into work with applications like QuarkXpress, Photoshop and Illustrator at a commercial level, enabling them to apply for junior design positions.
These combination courses offered a generation of students the opportunity to gain a foot on the ladder in the growing commercial world of digital layout, artwork and design. Testimonials from a number of students are available here.
The course were then developed to work with career changers and new small companies in and around Brighton wanting to develop their profiles with print literature.
Computer Box was commissioned to teach executives at British Airways for eight years in aspects of design and production, to support the in-house development of their worldwide brochures.
arrival of the web
When the web arrived, the same approach to courses was applied to the teaching of tools like the earliest versions of layout tools online like Dreamweaver and Adobe GoLive.
In the middle of the nineties, Computer Box was commissioned to develop and teach the initial the implementation of the web platform for the first online profile of Lewes Tertiary College (now Sussex Downs Coillege).
Other organisations in based in Sussex like the Brighton Society, and the Argus utilised Computer Box to develop their skills with what is now called digital media.
Over the next ten years Computer Box taught a generation of new mall companies emerging in and around Brighton, wanting to promote themselves through the implementation of visually engaging web platforms.
In 2010, Computer Box won the award ‘Civic Voice UK Developers of the Year’, winning the award for work with a community association web platform based in Brighton.
In 2010 Computer Box began to develop community platforms in three locations. These platforms are based in Brighton, Narberth in West Walesa nd Pevensey Bay in East Sussex. The platforms profile the work of local community organisations, local campaigns related to social wellbeing and local economic regeneration and development issues.
A further community platform, the Pevensey Timeline (2013), was funded by the National Lottery to tell the 2,000 year story of Pevensey and its rich history.The platform was utilised to teach students how to engage with the research of local history stories and upload their work onto a web based dynamic timeline.
The platforms are based within the communities that they serve, funded by grants, local sponsorship and advertising.
The role of Computer Box is to create and develop the initial platform structures and to teach people how to work with content, edit content and work with visual aspects of the platforms to maintain the platforms and develop visually engaging browsing experiences online..
The platforms are visible within the communities that they support and been involved in a number of locally significant development issues within the communities that they serve. Peter Davies OBE, Commissioner for Sustainability for Wales (2011) commented ‘we need expertise like this in Wales’.
The Civic Brighton and Hove Platform (2013), sponsored by Brighton Town Press, works with amenity societies across the city, profiling campaigns on a weekly basis and ‘giving amenity societies the opportunity to learn from each other’.
The input from the amenity societies helps to create a magazine environment page online in which each amenity society is offered the opportunity to profile their work.
Bay Life the Journal (2016) takes the principle of an online magazine environment into print in the form of a hyperlocal newspaper.
The newspaper sees the content of a community platform as an eight page full colour broadsheet, printed in Glasgow and published in Pevensey Bay.
The newspaper is proving to be popular and sells out in local newsagents and is also available in the local public library..
The plan is to teach organisations in other localities about the principles behind the hyperlocal newspaper, to enable the organisations to set up their own ventures based on the same principles.
The new digital hyperlocal press is enabling communities to publish to the standards of the London press at a fraction of the cost, printing runs of hundreds rather than thousands to service the needs of local communities with news, profile, opinion, analysis, business features and arts and culture in a printed form that has both new and old appeal.
The hyperlocal newspaper in Pevensey Bay utilises the strapline, Bay Life and Times for the Digital Age. The newspaper is a big local hit and commercially successful, drawing advertising from local busineses in three local communities.
Technology continues to radicalise all our working lives.
People need new skills and a new kind of toolbox for the 21st century. Computer Box is about teaching people how to use some of these new tools. Our foundations are built on the idea that all learning is about confidence. We believe that if you give people confidence, then they begin to take control of their own learning.