9:35am PT by Carolyn Giardina
BBC Unwraps Pocket-Size Computers in Learning Initiative
The BBC and 29 partners including Microsoft, Samsung, Barclays and Lancaster University have introduced the BBC micro:bit — a pocket-size, codable computer that’s designed to inspire children to get creative with technology.
The devices will start arriving at U.K. schools during October, where they will be given to 11- and 12-year-old children. Plans are to provide up to 1 million before the end of the year.
As the technology spec is open-source, the partnership additionally plans to develop a not-for-profit company to oversee micro:bit and enable additional micro:bits to be made commercially available in the U.K. and internationally through various outlets in late 2015.
According to the BBC, the U.K. currently faces a critical skills shortage in the technology sector, and this initiative is aimed at addressing this issue.
“We happily give children paint brushes when they’re young, with no experience — it should be exactly the same with technology,” said Sinead Rocks, head of BBC Learning. “The BBC micro:bit is all about young people learning to express themselves digitally, and it’s their device to own. [It’s] able to connect to everything from mobile phones to plant pots.”