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The BBC has finally begun distributing its Micro:bit to schools, 34 years after it first attempted to spark a programing revolution with the Acorn microcomputer.
While the old BBC computers never sparked a coding revolution, they certainly raised computer literacy significantly. Now however, young people are much more aware of the capability and potential of technology and they need something much more sophisticated.
The Micro:bit is a nifty piece of kit, with an accelerometer and compass so it can detect movement, a bluetooth antenna and LED lights which can be programmed remotely via PC, tablet or smartphone via an app. One million are being handed out to schools from today.
Developed with Microsoft, ARM and Samsung, the exciting thing about the Micro:bit is the fact school pupils can expand it by attaching it to other hardware, allowing school pupils to experiment and innovate.
The prospects for this are really exciting. As a business which was built on using code to deliver a service, creating software to monitor, analyse and interpret customer behaviour and the customer journey, here at Intilery we understand the need to encourage young people to code.
It is why we recently employed Zed Spencer-Milnes, a 16 year old from Upton in Chester, as a developer. He has already acquired the skills needed to write and adapt code in the commercial arena and we want to nurture that. The Micro:bit is the UKs best opportunity yet to create more Zeds.
In the future, as apps and automation take over more traditional jobs and the Internet of Things becomes more widespread, the need for competent coders to maintain, improve and create new software will grow and the industry will become a major employer in the UK.
The only criticism could be why only provide them to 11-12 year-olds?
Children both younger and older could benefit massively from access to these machines. They need to be more widely distributed to give every pupil from the age of seven or eight the opportunity to experience coding and see for themselves just what they can do with computers.
That is what the BBC and its partners have delivered and this has opened the opportunity for schools to really take coding seriously as a core curriculum subject alongside Maths, English and Science.
At Intilery...we're looking forward to seeing and employing many more millenial coders!