The BBC has announced a reimagining of its Computer Literacy Project from the 1980s, launching a raft of programming aimed at getting kids involved in creative technologies alongside a child-friendly microcomputer dubbed the Micro Bit.

Back in the 1980s, the BBC launched a Computer Literacy Project which aimed to support the learning of computing - at the time a relatively new subject for most - in schools and the home. Famously, this included a commercial partnership with Acorn Computers to produce the 'official' microcomputer of the project: the BBC Micro. This device formed the heart of the broadcaster's programming, from educational materials and software through to a starring role in The Computer Programme, Making the Most of the Micro, and Micro Live throughout the 1980s.

Now, the BBC is looking to do the same again with the launch of the Micro Bit. While full details have not yet been released, the machine is described by the broadcaster as 'a small programmable hardware device' which appears to have more in common with the Arduino microcontroller than the Raspberry Pi microcomputer. Each Micro Bit - a working title, the BBC has claimed - will be small enough to be wearable, include an integrated LED matrix and buttons, and both inputs and outputs. The broadcaster has indicated that it sees the Micro Bit as a springboard to more complex devices, and while it requires a computer to program it will be compatible with the Raspberry Pi and other low-cost education-themed machines.

The Micro Bit, based on an ARM microprocessor, will be supported by learning materials and 'inspirational broadcast content' on the BBC's children's channels, it has been claimed. Currently in testing and final design stage, the Micro Bit is to be distributed in autumn this year - beginning with the distribution of a free Micro Bit to every Year 7 child in UK education, some one million in total.

The Micro Bit is to be joined by content under the banner of Make it Digital, which will include programming across TV, radio and online featuring major brands and encouraging children and adults to get involved. Content confirmed for broadcast throughout the year includes a new drama based on the violent crime-'em-up Grand Theft Auto, a BBC Three talent show dubbed Girls Can Code, documentaries on Gordon Welchman and Ada Lovelace, and a BBC iWonder guide by gaming pioneer Ian Livingstone chronicling the birth of the British computer games industry. A traineeship has also been announced, offering up to 5,000 young unemployed people the chance to learn new skills.

More information on the BBC's Make it Digital initiative is available on the broadcaster's media site.
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October 14 2021 | 15:04