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The BBC Micro:bit to inspire makers on a global scale

19 October 2016

The BBC micro:bit minicomputer is being continued in the UK and rolled out internationally by the new Micro:bit Educational Foundation.

The Foundation is a not-for-profit company that builds on the huge success of the BBC micro:bit and aims to lower barriers to technology invention for young people, makers and developers globally. Focusing first on the UK and Europe, the organisation will enable teachers, governments and educational organisations to fulfil their digital educational goals and help improve digital skills across the globe. 

Over the last 12 months the BBC micro:bit partnership has distributed up to 1 million micro:bits to school children in the UK, launched a micro:bit website with four different code editors, along with hundreds of resources and supporting content for students and teachers. Its impact is already being seen – since launching in March this year, users have visited the website more than 13 million times, used the code simulator nearly ten million times and compiled code onto their devices close to two million times. As a core part of the BBC ‘Make it Digital’ initiative, it is also helping to change attitudes by encouraging more girls into ICT and computing subjects and making coding and technology more accessible to children.

The Foundation will begin taking over from the original BBC micro:bit partnership from today in a phased transition, ensuring long-term support and expansion of the educational program in the UK and internationally. The creation of the Foundation was made possible by support from leading educational and technology organisations including: ARM, BBC, Microsoft, Nominet, Samsung and the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).

Outside the UK, early adopters of the BBC micro:bit include Iceland and the Netherlands, with deployments now starting in schools. Availability will be extended across Europe during Q4/2016 with plans to roll out the device in North America and Asia in 2017. There is interest from more than 20 countries, including Bangladesh, China, Finland, Norway and Singapore, to deploy micro:bit educational programs. 

“The BBC micro:bit is extremely popular with children in the UK and we’re seeing a similar reaction in Iceland where young people are already using it as a trusted tool for their creative ideas,” said Zach Shelby, chief executive officer, Micro:bit Educational Foundation. “Our mission is to ensure that students, teachers and makers in the UK and around the world have long-term access to the micro:bit and get the support and resources that will help them imagine, invent and innovate. For us, this is about putting the micro:bit into the hands of young people everywhere, unlocking the potential to bring great ideas to life quickly.”

The BBC micro:bit gives teachers and educational organisations an easy-to-use platform to teach STEM skills that align with their curriculum, enabling digital creativity and improving digital literacy. For makers, developers and hobbyists, the micro:bit serves as a flexible platform for prototyping a wide range of applications and provides the opportunity to contribute to its further development. The BBC will release schematics for the micro:bit in addition to a complete reference design from the Foundation. This will guide makers on how to get creative with designing technology such as wireless sensors.

As well as increasing the accessibility of the BBC micro:bit, the Foundation will support diverse applications that serve a broad range of educational purposes and target age groups and extend its capabilities, bringing exciting new features to users, such as peer-to-peer radio communications. Further development will continue in terms of building a strong library of resources for the micro:bit community, including adding international language support and developing localised educational curriculums. 

The BBC micro:bit is available through a number of resellers. See a full list of micro:bit resellers at http://microbit.org/resellers.  


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