BBC handing out one million free computers

The Microbit prototype
The Microbit prototype

The BBC is ready to hand out a million free computers to students starting secondary school to address a skills shortage of some 1.4 million over the coming five years.

Through the UK-wide Make it Digital initiative, a "Micro Bit" coding device will be provided to every year-7 child in the British Isles by autumn 2015. Additionally, a collection of BBC programming is set to complement the rollout.

The "Micro Bit" is a small wearable device with a mini LED display that children can program in a number of different ways and they can begin to get their creative juices flowing as soon as it is plugged into a PC or Mac. It is designed to help students develop an intuitive understanding of the physical concepts in technology and computing, and the fact it's wearable will encourage them to think about the Internet of Things. Once they are at an advanced enough stage, students can then plug it in to more complicated products such as the Raspberry Pi, Kano, Galileo or Arduino, and continue to learn more about the world of coding.

Rather surprising is the fact that Grand Theft Auto, the award-winning video game, has a role to play in the initiative with a new drama based on the game set to broadcast on BBC Two. The drama is part of a season of programming and online activity involving some of the BBC's best known brands.

Big brands here to help

A third component to the initiative is a plan that will offer 5,000 young unemployed people a traineeship. The program will start in the summer of 2015 and will operate out of BBC Birmingham. The nine-week course teaches basic digital skills such as creating websites and simple video for the web, and will include input from BBC brands.

The BBC has also pooled support from various organisations such as ARM, BT, Google, Microsoft, Samsung as well as the likes of ComputerScience4Fun, Code Club, Tech City UK and Apps for Good. The fruits of their labour will be even more initiatives that will all work towards closing the well publicised skills gap.

Via: BBC