This fall, the British Broadcasting Corporation plans to give out 1 million programmable devices to every 11-year old starting secondary school in the U.K. This initiative is part of the Make it Digital initiative aimed at improving technology skills in the country. It’s the first year of a major coding initiative UK, and the BBC wants to play a part in training the next generation of programmers. By combining computer concepts with popular culture, BBC hopes to retain young user engagement, for example with content in Doctor Who.
The Micro Bit device is tiny and fits easily into the palm of a hand. Children will be able to create text via a series of LED lights, and they will also be able to use it to create basic games. The device is delivered as a small PCB with some LEDs and a single micro-USB connector, powered by a watch battery, and similar in concept to a simple version of the successful Raspberry Pi.
The project is supported by a host of partners who contribute funding to the project including Freescale, Samsung, Microsoft, Nordic Semiconductor, CodeClub and ARM. The BBC will be providing a range of learning activities and resources, and there will be a resource finder to allow students, teachers and parents to find and access this material. At a time when the BBC license fee is under review, such an ambitious project is a reminder of the BBC’s public service contributions.