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The BBC micro:bit and Microsoft

The BBC and partners, including Microsoft, announce the BBC micro:bit – a pocket-sized, codeable computer that allows children to get creative with technology. Up to 1 million micro:bits will be given to every 11 or 12 year old child in Year 7 or equivalent across the UK, for free.

 

“The simple truth is, being a maker matters. Real computing, doing not just consuming, will drive a creative revolution in this country. That’s why as a key partner in Make it Digital, Microsoft is helping to give a programmable micro:bit device to every year seven child in the country.”

Michel Van der Bel, UK CEO, Microsoft

The BBC micro:bit and Touch Develop

The BBC micro:bit is a small device that can be programmed to light up using a series of tiny LEDs. A fun introduction to programming and making – switch on, program it to do something fun – wear it, customize it, develop new ideas. The first wave of BBC micro:bits will hit UK schools this fall.

To bring the BBC micro:bit to life in 2015, Microsoft has developed an enhanced version of their popular Touch Develop web application and hosting service. This means the micro:bit has its own dedicated website, Microsoft Azure hosting for all one million micro:bits and a range of online code editors available from most any modern web browser.

Microsoft also has supplied two languages/editors – Touch Develop, a text-based language, and the Block Editor, a graphical coding language. The Touch Develop web app holds all the code editors built for the micro:bit, runs the micro:bit simulator, sends the code to the ARM compiler and brings back the compiled files to be sent to the micro:bit. Read more about the BBC micro:bit and Microsoft Touch Develop

Publications
  • Thomas Ball, Jonathan Protzenko, Judith Bishop, Michał Moskal, Jonathan de Halleux, Michael Braun, Steve Hodges, and Clare Riley, Microsoft Touch Develop and the BBC micro:bit, in ICSE 2016 Companion, ACM – Association for Computing Machinery, May 2016.

Supporting the UK Teachers

With close to a million micro:bits hitting the classrooms in the Autumn, it is critically important that the Year 7 children are supported by knowledgeable teachers with interesting and engaging projects right from the get go. Microsoft has put together a complete package of materials that can help get teachers up and running and support them through the school year. This includes:

  • A Quick Start Guide, which takes teachers from a basic understanding of the device through to exciting games and tutorials;
  • extensive online documentation for the micro:bit and the code editors
  • workshops for teaching partners and direct connections between the coding environment and the Computing at School community

Do more with the micro:bit

  • Kodu for micro:bit has new programming tiles that allow interaction with the micro:bit. With these new tiles, you can control character movement using the accelerometer, jump and shoot with a button press, display animations and scrolling text on the screen, interface with other devices through the IO pins, and much more.
  • Windows 10 app with BLE connectivity to micro:bit, in development.