BBC Wants To Teach The World To Code

Broadcaster launches a nationwide campaign for computer programming education.


Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “BBC would like to teach the world to code, in perfect harmony” was written by Jemima Kiss, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 8th October 2013 11.45 UTC

An ambitious nationwide technology initiative will encourage the public to take up computer programming, new BBC director general announced on Tuesday.

Reviving the spirit of its acclaimed 1980s home computer the BBC Micro, the corporation wants to address the UK’s technology skills shortage by inspiring both children and adults to explore computer science and creative technology.

Working with partners in industry, government and education, the BBC will provide resources to help the public build websites, apps, games, art and robots, and aims to have affected a shift in mainstream public perception of computer science by 2015.

As part of Hall’s announcement, particle physicist and TV presenter Brian Cox said coding is becoming as essential as reading and writing.

“An equally valuable skill is to be able to interact with computers … to be able to tell them precisely what to do,” he said.

“The BBC has a transformative role in this – to inspire.”

According to UK digital champion Martha Lane Fox, the UK needs more than a million technology professionals to join the industry in the next decade.

In keeping with the current vogue for all things 80s, Hall recalled the popular success of the BBC Micro computer, which made coding accessible to a new generation.

The BBC Micro home computer launched in December 1981 and, along with the ZX Spectrum, helped popularise computing for a new generation.

More than 1.5m were sold in 13 years, costing upwards of £399, and its success in promoting the simple “Basic” programming language which allowed children to master simple programmes, and inspired many to pursue careers in computer science, gaming and engineering.

Other digital initiatives announced by the BBC on Tuesday include a music playlist tool, a digital Shakespeare initiative to mark the 400th anniversary of his death in 2016, and plans to expand its international audience online.

Raspberry Pi, the cheap, versatile home inspired in part by the BBC Micro, has sold one million units.

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