micro:bit Sri Lankan User Group
Micro:bit Sri Lankan User Group is a volunteer-led organisation started by STEMup Educational Foundation.
The group, which began in 2016 by delivering free workshops in small villages, training teachers and working with students, now has a membership of over 300 volunteers. The team works exclusively to promote micro:bit, working with students all over Sri Lanka while also lobbying government organisations and developing funding partnerships.
Through partnership with Mortuwa University and Microsoft Sri Lanka, the organisation helped to influence government adoption of the micro:bit into primary schools. In 2017, the Sri Lankan government brought micro:bits as a pilot initiative in 1000 schools. Following the success of this pilot, the micro:bit was officially introduced into IT lessons for grades 8 and 9 (age 10-11) in 2018.
The Sri Lankan national curriculum was updated in 2018 to include topics on the Internet of Things, computational thinking and coding for students in grade 8 (age 10) onwards. All students will be assessed on these topics and non-specialist teachers will also be required to cover them in general class teaching. The micro:bit has been recommended as a tool to support delivery of these topics because of its ease-of-use for non-specialists and children alike.
To support the curriculum change and ensure sustainability of these new teaching practives, a dedicated Internet of Things department has been established within the Education Ministry of Sri Lanka, with training and support provided by Micro:bit SLUG staff.
Campaigns and activities
With a team of volunteers, the team ran an island-wide hackathon called “Hack:bit” in 2018 which was the first event of its kind in Sri Lanka. The hackathon brought together young people from 25 schools and universities to explore creative digital solutions using the micro:bit.
Building on this community outreach, a series of Discovery Days were hosted in 25 districts across the country, offering free workshops and hackathons for school children providing training and access to the micro:bit.
In 2019, the team began a campaign "100 schools, 100 days" to further promote micro:bit and support teachers with the new curriculum requirements. As teacher confidence in using new technologies is a prevalent issue, the team's goal is to expose more teachers to micro:bit to help them build confidence.
“Micro:bit in Libraries” is a library lending programme where micro:bits can be borrowed from local libraries. This scheme is currently running in two libraries in Colombo and Gampaha. The initiative is receiving positive feedback from the local community and plans to expand to more libraries are in development.
Impact and results
- The first roll-out of micro:bit in 2017 reached 1000 schools, 20% of all Sri Lankan schools
- Through application to a government endowment fund, the team secured funding for 10,000 micro:bit devices for use in schools and libraries in 2018
- From 2018, the Ministry of Education included micro:bit as the programmable device for teaching and learning in IT lessons for grades 8 and 9
- The wider network reach is now estimated at 300,000