Next steps for the BBC micro:bit

Head of BBC Learning

It’s been just over two months since we unveiled the BBC micro:bit alongside our 28 partners and I wanted to give you an update on what we have been up to since then as well as information on what’s coming next.

This is a massively ambitious undertaking and that’s been reflected in the levels of activity over the summer months. We have been busy getting ready to support teachers on every aspect of the BBC micro:bit, and have been in touch with schools and teachers up and down the country. Thousands have already registered and there’s still time to get involved - you can sign up using our online registration form which can be found on the BBC micro:bit website.

Engaging with schools has always been central to this educational initiative - our teams have been hard at work creating and producing all the resources teachers will need to bring it to life, allow lesson planning to start, and to make it a success in the classroom.

We want to help teachers start to plan how they will use the BBC micro:bit in their classrooms and the beta release of the new BBC micro:bit website will be arriving very soon. It has been designed to equip teachers, parents and students with a one-stop intro into everything they need to know about the BBC micro:bit, and to help teachers get going in advance of the devices arriving in schools. My colleague Leigh Aspin will blog about the website in detail when it launches but here’s a short introduction.

The brand new BBC micro:bit website contains a wealth of resources to get users started. These include a series of videos, step by step tutorials, and fun projects and resources to inspire users from the BBC and our partners, including Code Club, Code Kingdoms, Cisco, The Institution of Engineering and Technology, Kitronik, Microsoft, Technology Will Save Us and TeenTech.

Crucially, the new site includes code editors to help users start to write code for the BBC micro:bit itself. We’re releasing Microsoft Block and Touch Develop editors, with editors from Code Kingdom and Python Software Foundation coming soon. The site also includes a simulator, which will let users to get hands on, practise, and see how their coding will illuminate the LEDs and press the buttons on the device. All a key part of how teachers can start to use the site to plan lessons and activities. And we will be improving and updating the site regularly over the coming months.

This is just the start - we will be in touch with more detail in the coming weeks to help teachers get to know the BBC micro:bit and to plan creative ways to bring it to life.

As you would expect, rigorous and extensive testing of the BBC micro:bit has been another key focus over the summer. It’s a new piece of hardware developed in conjunction with a coalition of expert partners and getting the device right before we manufacture a million of them for distribution is our priority. As a result of this testing, we’ve decided to make some minor revisions to the way power is supplied around the board, as this was affecting a few devices in rare and isolated instances. This will have an impact on our timings for distribution but we are working hard to make sure you get your micro:bits as quickly as possible.

As we have always said, teachers will still get their BBC micro:bits before pupils, and we aim to start delivering devices to them before Christmas, and to children in the new year, as part of the new school term. We want to make sure that when the BBC micro:bit arrives, it has the greatest possible impact in the classroom, playground and at home, and are planning exciting programmes across BBC TV, radio and online in the new year to bring them to life.

All the organisations involved in the BBC micro:bit initiative want to inspire a new generation to get creative with digital technology – to do that we need your continued guidance and support. Together, we will make the BBC micro:bit a transformative initative, working together to achieve what none of us could on our own.

Sinead Rocks is Head of BBC Learning

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