It has been brought to my attention that the BBC *are* actually making
moves in the area of programming in schools (viz. what happened at
I've copied an email that was forwarded to me and I think it'd be useful
for the UK Python community to engage with these guys. I'm certainly
going to respond and I know that there are many people on this list who
have valuable experience and knowledge to share.
It's almost lunch time. If you're at a loose end over your
sandwich-break then why not reply rather than browse Slashdot..? :-P
All the best,
From: Keri Facer <[hidden email]>
> Date: 6 October 2011 11:54:36 GMT+01:00
> To: Keri Facer <[hidden email]>
> Subject: 'BBC Micro' Project -
> Hi all
> Thanks for expressing an interest in informing a possible new BBC
> Micro Project and thanks to all of you for the comments you have
> already sent - apologies for the group reply, but your help with the
> following would be very much appreciated!
> Best wishes
> Invitation to contribute
> The BBC is exploring the possibility of developing a new ‘BBC Micro’
> project to encourage an interest amongst young people in computers,
> computational thinking and computer science. Manchester Metropolitan
> University is working with the BBC to draw on the views of teachers,
> lecturers, computer scientists, programmers and others with an
> interest in computational thinking in the UK today. We would
> appreciate your assistance in helping to inform the early stages of
> this process.
> First, a bit of background:
> In the early 1980s, the BBC started what became known as the BBC
> Computer Literacy Project in response to predictions of a coming
> microcomputer revolution and its likely future impacts on UK economy
> and society. The BBC based its project around a computer and
> programming language capable of being used to perform various tasks
> which would be demonstrated in a TV series The Computer Programme. The
> list of topics in the TV programme included graphics, programming,
> sound and music, controlling external hardware, artificial
> intelligence and teletext The computer selected was the Acorn Proton,
> which was then re-badged the BBC Micro. The government funded the
> purchase and distribution of 12,000 of the computers to UK schools for
> use alongside the TV programme. In turn this stimulated a significant
> growth in domestic use of the Micro.
> Today, there is criticism of the ICT curriculum and the teaching of
> programming (or computational thinking) in schools. The Royal Society,
> amongst others, believe that design and delivery of ICT and computer
> science curricula in schools is so poor that students’ understanding
> and enjoyment of the subject is severely limited. In response to this
> the BBC is exploring the possibility of developing a project with the
> specific purpose of encouraging an interest in computers, computer
> science and computer programming amongst young people.
> We would like to know your views on what the BBC could do in this
> area. In particular, what you would see as the desirable equivalent of
> the BBC Micro and The Computer Programme today? What technologies and
> processes, what tools and skills would such a project need to
> develop? In particular, we would appreciate answers to the specific
> questions below
> (NB, we use the term computational thinking rather than computer
> science, programming, or ICT skills because we don’t want to assume
> one particular view of what is important in this area. That, indeed,
> is what we want your views on).
> Key questions
> * What aspects of computational thinking (e.g. understanding how
> ‘computers think/work’, using programming languages,
> understanding systems thinking or other issues) should a BBC
> Micro 2.0 project focus on? What do you think people should be
> able to learn to do with computers today? Why?
> * What are the best ways to support and encourage those young
> people (aged 9-14) with an interest in this area, to develop
> their interest and skills in computational thinking ? Can you
> suggest any examples of resources or activities that you know
> * What are the best ways to support and encourage young people
> (aged 9-14) with other intereststo develop an interest in and
> understanding of computational thinking? Can you suggest any
> examples of resources or activities that you know of?
> * What are the key obstacles to learning computational thinking
> and how might these best be overcome?
> * If you were to make hardware available to schools in the same
> way as the BBC Micro in 1981, what sorts of hardware would you
> think was essential to develop the skills and understanding
> * If you were designing a tv programme today that sought to have
> the same effect as The Computer Programme in stimulating
> interest in the most important new area of technological
> development, what area would you expect it to address and what
> topics would you expect it to cover? Would it still be in the
> field of computer science? What areas?
> * Do you know of any projects, resources and activities that
> would be examples that this project could learn from?
> * Do you have any other comments on the idea of a new BBC Micro
> Thank you for your time and your help – do let us know if you’d like
> to be kept updated if there are further developments.
> Keri Facer (MMU)
> Howard Baker (BBC)
> Nicola Whitton (MMU)
> Keri Facer
> Professor of Education
> Education and Social Research Institute
> Manchester Metropolitan University
> 799 Wilmslow Road
> M20 2RR
> Tel: 0161 247 2412
> Email: [hidden email]
> Twitter: #kerileef
> "Before acting on this email or opening any attachments you should
> read the Manchester Metropolitan University email disclaimer available
> on its website http://www.mmu.ac.uk/emaildisclaimer "
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This sounds interesting. I work at the OU (in a technical support rather than teaching role) and may be able to help out with contacts, background and history. I think they'll be some interest in this sort of thing across the OU, although not necessarily with Python as the programming language.
The OU runs a course "My Digital Life" which is related to this (but not for schools).
At the centre of the course is The SenseBoard, which as I recall Gary Bullmer developed.
I hope this helps.
On Fri, Oct 7, 2011 at 11:11 AM, Nicholas Tollervey <[hidden email]> wrote:
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