New Micro:bit Educational Foundation launched

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In a move intended to build on the on-going success of the micro:bit a new non-profit Foundation has been launched. The Foundation is intended to lower barriers to technology invention for young people, makers and developers and support teachers and educational organisations improve digital skills.

So far this year the BBC micro:bit partnership has distributed almost 1 million micro:bits to school children in the UK, launched a micro:bit website with four different code editors, and distributed hundreds of resources and supporting content for students and teachers.

The Foundation will take over from the original BBC micro:bit partnership in a phased transition, ensuring long-term support and expansion of the educational program, both in the UK and overseas. ARM, the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and the BBC are among the leading educational and technology organisations supporting the Foundation.

The impact of the micro:bit has been significant; users have visited the website over 13m times, used the code simulator nearly 10m times and compiled code onto their devices nearly 2m times.

“We’ve seen the BBC micro:bit grow from an exciting idea into an educational tool that’s already making a real difference to children’s lives,” said Sinead Rocks, Head of BBC Learning.

According to Gareth Stockdale, Head of Operations at BBC Learning: “Initial research has found that there have been some very positive behavioural changes amongst students using the micro:bit. Among girls 39 percent said that they would now take ICT/computing science as an option, up from 23 percent previously; among all students 86 percent said that it made computer science more interesting, while 88 percent found coding was now less difficult than had previously been the case.”

Outside the UK, early adopters of the micro:bit include Iceland and the Netherlands, and availability will be extended across Europe this year with plans to roll out the device in North America and Asia in 2017. There is interest from more than 20 countries looking to deploy micro:bit educational programs.

Speaking at the launch of the Foundation, Zach Shelby, CEO micro:bit Educational Foundation, said:“We’ve added new exciting features and more are on the way. Technology moves very fast. Next year we will be bringing in new versions of micro bit hardware with more computing resources and new sensors. Already, we now have features like peer-to-peer communications.”

As well as providing an easy-to-use platform to teach STEM skills the micro:bit provides makers, developers and hobbyists with a flexible platform for prototyping a wide range of applications and the BBC is to release schematics for the micro:bit in addition to reference designs from the Foundation.

“By enabling access to tools and resources for young people, educators and makers, expanding the micro:bit’s functionality and extending the reach of this technology, the Micro:bit Educational Foundation will create a vibrant legacy of digital creativity,” commented Mike Muller, chief technology officer, ARM.