The online community with the micro:bit at its heart
Thousands of young people in Uruguay are being brought together by a shared interest: code. A virtual learning environment that delivers training to teachers and students has led to the creation of a dynamic online micro:bit community.
Plan Ceibal was founded in 2007 to ensure equal technological opportunities for all Uruguayan children. Since then, every child entering the public education system has been given a computer and free internet access at school. The initiative also seeks to transform methods of teaching and learning – and it spotted the power of the micro:bit to develop computational thinking.
Robotics is really cool because you get more from it: first through teamwork, and second you have fun doing all this.
Since July 2018, Plan Ceibal has delivered more than 6,000 micro:bits to primary and secondary students, plus more than 2,300 to teachers. A virtual learning environment was built on the Creativechain (Crea) platform, a blockchain project that allows people to deliver content to their own communities, while the conecta:bit app allows files to be easily transferred to the micro:bit. Thousands of teachers and students have tackled challenges designed to develop logical thinking, build programming skills, keep students in education and close the gender gap.
Five face-to-face events have been held with students, as well as 10 teacher-training workshops. Those teacher-training workshops have really had an impact: 68% of surveyed students said they had learned about micro:bit through a teacher. In the same survey, 51% said learning to use the micro:bit was easy or very easy, and 82% said they had used their micro:bit at least once since. 96% said they would continue to use it.
A student user of the micro:bit said: “The advantage is that you are having fun – for example, I go to my room and start doing stuff with the micro:bit and try different things. I guess if this didn’t exist, things would be too ‘normal’ – in third grade it would be always the same, like biology, language, history, mathematics, music. But now robotics is really cool because you get more: first through teamwork, and second you have fun doing all this.”
For the next phase of the project, Plan Ceibal is delivering 30,000 micro:bits to students and teachers, as well as 3,500 micro:bit extension kits. Virtual introductory workshops and face-to-face advanced workshops are being held for teachers. The plan is to help even more young people gain the skills to solve computational and real-world problems.