From BBC Micro to Raspberry Pi: computer literacy in schools and at home

July 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

The arrival of the Raspberry Pi has been heralded by some as ‘the new BBC Micro’ in terms of how it has the potential to revolutionise computing in schools. Whereas the BBC was a game-changer by being made available in every school, the Pi aims to be available for every child to take home. This is mostly due to its cost, at only around £25 for a fully-functioning computer, but also because each one is about the size of a credit card (excluding keyboard, mouse and monitor — the Pi is designed to connect to a family TV). It also comes with several child-friendly programming environments installed, such as Scratch, to address the concern that computer programming is disappearing from schools (unlike the BBC Micro, where programming in BASIC was an integral part of using it).

With this in mind, the National Archive of Educational Computing have released a rather timely report on the success and long-term impact of the original BBC Micro and the Computer Literacy Project, including lessons learned and key recommendations for the success of similar future projects. These include the importance of supporting learning outside the classroom, and in reaching the home as well as the school, so it will be interesting to see how well-placed the Pi is to achieve this. The report is well worth a read, and is freely available from Nesta.

I will now be spending the rest of my day reminiscing nostalgically about the BBC Micro and showing my age terribly… kids of today will never understand the joys of spending an hour loading a game from a cassette tape…

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