Teachers and the micro:bit

Director of Education

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After months of anticipation, we have now finally unveiled our finished BBC micro:bit.

Back in March, we announced our intention to give one of these pocket sized, programmable ‘computers’ to every child in Year 7 across the UK. Since then we’ve been working with our partners (all 28 of them!) to develop the concept and create the hardware and software needed to bring these tiny devices to life. 

The BBC micro:bit has been designed to encourage children to move away from seeing laptops and tablets as ‘devices you can do things on’ to ‘devices you can use to make other things happen’ - a concept that has arguably been lost to many as so many types of technology have become ever more intuitive and easy to use.

Our research and testing suggests the micro bit can do just that. Once we shared our prototype with young and creative minds, they quickly got to work... using it initialy to do simple things such as spelling their names through the red LED's  before quickly moving on in really surprising and inventive ways such as creating video games, turning it into a remote control for mp3 players and cameras and even using it to forecast the weather.

 

Much of that activity was supported by some of the most amazing teachers we have ever worked with – in fact, throughout the development phases of this large scale educational initiative; we have tried to involve teachers at every step. That’s because we know, for this to be a success, the micro:bit needs to work for them as well.  I like to think of the UK’s teaching community as our 30th partner. And so, if you’re a teacher, you’ll be getting your micro:bit before any of your pupils – to ensure you get the opportunity to play around with it and to explore how you might want to use it in your classroom. We’ll also be sending a Quick Start supported by Microsoft from mid-September, with student devices starting to arrive after half-term.

And we need your help… we want to ensure that your school is registered so look out for emails from the BBC. We have sent out two already to introduce the micro:bit and two more will be sent out over the summer leading up to the start of term. The summer emails will contain a link to our online registration form. You can find this link on the micro:bit website as well, so don’t worry if you don’t see the email.

We know that there are nearly 18,000 teachers of computing in the UK. That is an enormous base of talent and experience from which to draw inspiration for projects, ideas and clever ways to harness the power of the micro:bit. We want to hear from teachers right across the UK and to ask for their help in developing and refining our resources for teachers throughout the autumn term and beyond. We welcome your input as experts in the subject so do get in touch with your regional CAS group or colleagues at STEMNET. For our part, we will be laying on some exciting broadcast moments in the autumn in the run up to Christmas.

The partnership of micro:bit product champions are currently finalising an exciting range of support materials, available when the website is launched later this summer, to equip teachers, parents and students for when they receive their micro:bit. There will be a wealth of online resources, applications and technologies, printable materials and videos as well as a range of face-to-face activities such as workshops and training alongside local and national events.

There will be opportunities for teachers to view online, adapt, download and embed resources to deliver lessons using the micro:bit. There are also resources being created that are aimed at getting parents and families engaged too. 

It promises to be an exciting summer ahead.

Here are some ways for you to get involved…

Do keep checking the micro:bit website (which will be at http://www.microbit.co.uk/), especially the teachers and parents section for updates, events and project ideas, including the link so that you can register your school to receive your devices. The website will soon be launched, allowing teachers and young people to practice coding through a simulator, well before they receive their micro:bits. The simulator shows how their coding will illuminate the LEDs on the device and with practice, users can learn how to control other devices using the Bluetooth functionality.

Our partners, especially CAS and STEMNET will be detailing regional events in your area. Sign up and take part.

And finally, talk to us about the micro:bit on email using microbitinfo@bbc.co.uk

All the organisations involved in the micro:bit initiative want to inspire a new generation to get creative with digital technology – to do that we need your feedback, guidance and support.

Sinead Rocks is Head of BBC Learning

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