Micro:bit Educational Foundation and Nominet launch micro:bit classroom

…part of a new free educational platform to help teachers teach computing with purpose…

  • With funding from Nominet, the Micro:bit Educational Foundation has released a free comprehensive educational platform to empower every teacher to deliver creative digital projects and computing lessons
  • The platform includes micro:bit classroom, a unique tool that makes managing and reviewing students’ code for the micro:bit quick and easy – set up takes just two minutes for MakeCode and python
  • The new educational platform and micro:bit classroom is designed to democratise access to technology and broaden access to computing education
  • With 1 million BBC micro:bit devices already in UK schools since 2016, the platform can help   teachers to embed computational thinking and real-world applications of technology in their teaching quickly and creatively.

This week the Micro:bit Educational Foundation, with funding from its founding partner Nominet, has launched a new free online educational platform including micro:bit classroom, a unique tool for schools, as well as comprehensive educational resources to aid planning, share ideas and save teachers’ time. The new platform aims to empower all UK teachers – from computing aficionados to first-time coders – to bring foundational computing concepts, computational thinking skills and aspirations into lessons via the BBC micro:bit.

The BBC micro:bit is a pocket-sized computer, it uses tech industry standard hardware with a range of features including an LED display, motion, temperature and light sensors and a compass. It has wireless communication using radio and Bluetooth which can be programmed to send and receive data between devices. The micro:bit is programmed using free software editors – the block based and text language of MakeCode and the text-based python language to introduce students to programming and the relationship between software and hardware design.

Four years ago one million BBC micro:bit devices were delivered to every UK secondary school and since then the micro:bit has gone global, with devices embraced by world-leading education systems including Canada, Finland, Denmark, Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong. The micro:bit is also being used as a strategic device for educational programmes investing in the acceleration of critical 21st century skills as demonstrated by the Western Balkan countries, and many South American countries including Chile, Uruguay, Colombia and Brazil.

The launch is part of the Foundation’s ambitious plans to democratise technology and broaden young people’s access to successful digital futures, beginning with computing education using the BBC micro:bit. It is committed to introducing every UK child to the creative possibilities of coding and the applications of technology to their real-world experience, so they become designers and creators, not just consumers of technology.

The benefits

Time-saving features are built into the new platform – the BBC micro:bit basics can be learned by any teacher in just an hour and micro:bit classroom makes it possible to set-up programming lessons in less than 2 minutes.

Furthermore, the new micro:bit classroom product allows teachers to view student work live and in one place, as well as stop and resume lessons at any point. Lessons are also easily downloadable to record students’ work, and there is no need to remember usernames or passwords because no registration is required. No student data is stored outside the school’s own secure storage. The tool is uniquely designed to maintain student privacy. A host of new lesson resources, plans and projects linked to the curriculum gives teachers everything they need to help them deliver an entire term of inspiring content with ease.

Uniquely, as a physical computing device, the BBC micro:bit enables students to see and experience how their code directly interacts with real-world hardware, away from the computer screen. With no need for expensive equipment, the affordable device and free educational platform is designed for teachers and students to develop their knowledge of computing and to innovate and create their own ideas when working with technology.

Gareth Stockdale, CEO of the Micro:bit Educational Foundation says:

“The BBC micro:bit makes coding tangible and creative, getting results quickly and broadening creative horizons.

“There are now over a million micro:bits in UK schools and libraries. The help of our founding partner Nominet in developing the new classroom tool and lessons means we can empower teachers to help children of all backgrounds be better prepared to face, and have a part in shaping, their own digital futures.”

Adam Leach, Managing Director of New Ventures at Nominet and Director of the Micro:bit Educational Foundation says:

“We all rely on teachers to help inspire our children to learn important new skills. Funding this project means we are helping busy teachers, including those who don’t have a technology background, to bring coding into the classroom. We know that when time is short, teachers appreciate being able to access and set up micro:bit lessons in less than 2 minutes.

“Our role at the heart of the UK’s internet infrastructure puts us in a unique position to be able to fund and support initiatives like micro:bit classroom. Doing so as part of our public benefit programme will go some way to help future-proof the UK’s digital workforce and economy, to ensure a vibrant digital future for all.”

Dean Wild, a teacher at Churchill Community College in Newcastle said: “Using the BBC micro:bit has been so engaging for them [pupils], that they have really wanted to learn more. It’s also helped them to grasp more complex computing projects, stretching their minds and making them think… they wouldn’t have had the same experience without the BBC micro:bit.”

The new learning resources and micro:bit classroom are freely available at: https://microbit.org.

The launch is the culmination of a two-year digital transformation project funded by Nominet to evolve the micro:bit platform so it serves teachers, pupils and the micro:bit community today and into the future.  The funding of £500,000 is part of Nominet’s public benefit commitment to enable all young people to acquire digital skills and thrive in the future digital economy.