Activity after BBC CodeLab

My talk about ‘BBC Codelab’ at BarCampMediaCity in which I described my vision as a reality generated a lot of interest and discussion.

In the weeks since the talk, I have been contacted by many people who seem to support one common argument “all children should be entitled to understand what computing is and it’s potential, they should also be provided with a range of opportunities to experience programming a computer.”

There have been some differences of opinions, for example – whether this should be in school or outside of school, should it depend on a piece of hardware being available or not, if it should all be open source, what the role of the BBC was and should be in the future, what level of content there should be, and whether it should be available to all children or some children. I don’t wish to comment on these at the moment.

At the moment and in the next few months there are many initiatives, some already bearing fruit that will make sure this revolution takes place. The publication of the Nesta Next-Gen report, the Royal Society report, the ePetitions, many conferences and festivals, the CodingForKids event, Computing at School, Manchester University competitions and the Raspberry Pi.

I am unable to describe in words my sheer delight in discovering that the BBC are now consulting a wide range of interested parties to see what shape a potential BBC Micro II initiative might resemble. I would like to think that the reaction I provoked at the PyConUK conference helped ensure that people with a stake in a BBC project could make a contriution. Realistically, if the BBC decide to forge ahead in this direction – by the time all the necessary departments are all aligned together to commission TV programmes, publish resources, launch a national campaign etc. , two or three more years could have passed before anything reaches children’s hands.

So, I jumped with excitement when a group of people called iO, connected to the UK software, visual effects and games industry approached me asked me what ideas I had to help achieve this dream of enabling children to experience computing. The chair of iO group is Ray Maguire, who until April 2011 had been head of Sony UK and VP of Sony Europe. Ray has spoken of a passion for education, the potential for technology to enhance education and the need for industry and education to work together, eg LWF 27Jan2011.

During meetings with iO group, I have made some suggestions for how education and industry could work better together. One of these is a national competition for children in the UK to enter, with prizes sponsored by the UK software, games and entertainment industry. In my next blog post, I will describe how I see the competition working – but I ask for you to support this by reading the proposal and then supporting it by giving feedback.

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