Building A Digital Future

You may have missed BBC gives children mini-computers in Make it Digital scheme by Jane Wakefield.

From the post:

One million Micro Bits – a stripped-down computer similar to a Raspberry Pi – will be given to all pupils starting secondary school in the autumn term.

The BBC is also launching a season of coding-based programmes and activities.

It will include a new drama based on Grand Theft Auto and a documentary on Bletchley Park.

Digital visionaries

The initiative is part of a wider push to increase digital skills among young people and help to fill the digital skills gap.

The UK is facing a significant skills shortage, with 1.4 million “digital professionals” estimated to be needed over the next five years.

The BBC is joining a range of organisations including Microsoft, BT, Google, Code Club, TeenTech and Young Rewired State to address the shortfall.

At the launch of the Make it Digital initiative in London, director-general Tony Hall explained why the BBC was getting involved.

Isn’t that clever?

Odd that I haven’t heard about a similar effort in the United States.

There are only 15 million (14.6 million actually) secondary students this year in the United States and at $35 per Raspberry Pi, that’s only $525,000,000. That may sound like a lot but remember that the 2015 budget request for the Department of Homeland security is $38.2 Billion (yes, with a B). We are spending 64 times the amount needed to buy every secondary student in the United States a Raspberry Pi on DHS. A department that has yet to catch a single terrorist.

There would be consequences to buying every secondary student in the United States a Raspberry Pi:

  • Manufacturers of Raspberry Pi would have a revenue stream for more improvements
  • A vast secondary markets for add-ons for Raspberry Pi computers would be born
  • An even larger market for tutors and classes on Raspberry Pi would jump start
  • Millions of secondary students would be taking positive steps towards digital literacy

The only real drawback that I foresee is that the usual suspects would not be at the budget trough.

Maybe, just this once, the importance of digital literacy and inspiring a new generation of CS researchers is worth taking that hit.

Any school districts distributing Raspberry Pis on their own to set an example for the feds?

PS: I would avoid getting drawn into “accountability” debates. Some students will profit from them, some won’t. The important aspect is development of an ongoing principle of digital literacy and supporting it. Not every child reads books from the library but every community is poorer for the lack of a well supported library.

I first saw this in a tweet by Bart Hannsens.

Comments are closed.