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Blog » BBC Micro:bit: A mixed response

BBC Micro:bit: A mixed response

Sunday 12th July 2015

I'd be very surprised if the launch of the BBC Micro:bit escaped you. Both the marketing and criticism have been ferocious, and with good reason. Here's an overview of some of the pros & cons:

This little device was invented with the aim of getting more kids into coding...see:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/4hVG2Br1W1LKCmw8nSm9WnQ/introducing-the-bbc-micro-bit

Pros...

  • It is the kind of 'toy' that has the potential to engage the mind of kids.
  • Free to y7 students (come September 2015?)
  • Backed by 29 big companies including Microsoft.
  • A timely launch (to some degree): launched at a time when many schools have now made the switch from ICT to Computer Science.

Cons...

  • The Micro:bit is less powerful than the Raspberry Pi (supported by Google), though it is free.
  • The Pi had similar aims, yet ended up vastly appealing to older enthusiasts rather than students. The fear is the same could happen with the Micro:bit
  • You don't need a Micro:bit to get into programming. Those that own a much more versatile PC could end up ditching the Micro:bit
  • With what seems like little 'market testing', they might just end up adding to land-fill dumps or sold using EBay (or similar)
  • With exciting web sites and programming apps in a crowded market such as Code Studio, Scratch, Touch Develop and Code Kingdoms, it could have a tough time attracting the attention of youngsters.
  • No pre-release versions or material given to teachers at a time when they are planning for 2015/16 (as far as I am aware).
  • The name doesn't make sense! A 'bit' is already the smallest binary unit, so what on earth does 'Micro-Bit' actually mean?!
  • If the project fails, it will be another PR-disaster for the BBC (adding to the £100m failed IT project - April 2014)

Bottom line: It seems like a big gamble for the BBC. No doubt there will be significant resources invested; to get it noticed by children!