At the CSTA Conference I had a long chat with Peli de Halleux from the TouchDevelop team about the BBC Micro:bit. Peli has been active in TouchDevelop and the BBC micro:bit. He was wearing one and also gave me a demo of how TouchDevelop works with the device.
You have to think of the Micro:bit as an embedded device that is programmed from a larger device. That adds a bit of complexity to the installation but really no more than you find in a mobile phone app. Peli is quite excited about the project as you would expect from someone who has been hard at work on it for some time. The plan to give a million of these devices out to students is not without controversy (mentioned in an earlier post – Is the BBC’s ‘Micro Bot’ the Silver Bullet ) It’s hard not to get enthusiastic after talking to Peli though.
It’s a pretty open question of how this will work in the classroom or out of the classroom for that matter. There are several code editors for developing for the device and it looks like various curriculum is being developed. And the UK has a large community of computer educators that are part of Computing At School (CAS) that is doing a lot of professional development in other areas of CS already. It’s logical to assume that some early adopters will be doing training of other teachers over time.
Defining success is also a tricky question. What does success mean? Arguably anyone can define their own measure and judge the result by that metric. If they give out 1,000,000 devices how many students have to get hooked on CS because of it to be a success?
The people who put in the money will have their own metrics for success. I don’t know what they are and chances are good they will declare success based on some numbers that look good regardless of outcomes. Others will view success through their own goals and filters.
As for me, I want one. If not for school then for my own projects. I have a couple of ideas of fun things to do.