I got a chance to see the BBC micro:bit in action at Whizzkids‘ Summer Camp in DCU today. The micro:bit is the cornerstone of the BBC’s 21st century education initiative to introduce coding in a hands-on fashion to all children in the UK aged 11 years and upwards. The initiative involved giving every 11 years student their own BBC micro:bit. The roll-out of devices resembles the project launched over 30 years which resulted in a BBC Model B being placed in every school in the UK. Today the teletext downloads and television support programmes have been replaced by a comprehensive website and a host of 3rd party add-ons. The aim of the initiative is to encourage coding, creativity and confidence among the second generation of digital natives.
Today we had the Red Team students taking a risk using the BBC Micro:bit by designing their own digital dice. The appeal of the micro:bit is very obvious. It is COOL! It delivers immediate results and user satisfaction. It encourages group participation and automatic peer evaluation. The Microsoft MakeCode is similar in look and operation to the Scratch jigsaw block pieces and is easily grasped by Scratch users. However, the online nature of Microsoft MakeCode requires a fast and reliable broadband connection to avoid frustration and disappointment among its young user base.