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Building a Better Micro:Bit IDE – Teaching Computer Science
Ellis M, Thompson G, Haskell-Dowland PS (Dowland PS)
INTED2020 Proceedings of the 14th International Technology, Education and Development Conference, Valencia, Spain, 2-4 March, ISBN: 978-84-09-17939-8, pp8425-8433, 2020
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There are a plethora of online websites and unplugged materials for people who want to learn how to code. From Scratch in the early years to the more recent (relatively) Massive Open Online Courses, there are many sources of educational and training oriented materials to assist individuals who want to develop computer science skills. Organisations such as and Khan Academy have been established for students to learn computer programming, animations, game creation or the ability to develop web pages in Java script, HTML or CSS. Most of these sites do not require the use of external computing devices and often use virtualised environments (hence missing the valuable experience of hands-on interactivity). In addition, many also have a focus on block-based coding which isolates the student from more traditional coding concepts although opening a simplistic interface for school-level students to engage with computer science curricula.

In order to provide a suitable environment to teach computer science concepts, Edith Cowan University (ECU) set forth to help schools continue their digital journey by building on what is currently available. ECU developed an interactive website, that a BBC Micro:bit could be plugged into and coded on, in python. In addition, the site had to cater for beginner level coders as well as the more able students. Splitting the desk top screen, the user can choose to code in block or text based code, directly download to the Micro:bit and troubleshoot errors if necessary.

This paper examines the outcomes of the project, the specifics of the implementation and evaluates the benefits to end users. The developed platform has been made freely available to support schools across Western Australia as well as being available globally.

Ellis M, Thompson G, Haskell-Dowland PS (Dowland PS)