Design@Large: Thomas Ball (Microsoft Research)

Abstract

Physical Computing for Everyone

Thanks to Moore’s Law, embeddable microcontroller-based devices continue to get cheaper, faster, and include more integrated sensors and networking options. In 2016, the BBC and a host of technical partners, including Microsoft, delivered such a physical computing device, the micro:bit, to every 5th grader in the UK. Microsoft Research helped to make the micro:bit easy to program for novices. The non-profit Micro:bit Education Foundation (microbit.org), of which Microsoft is a founding partner, was recently created to take the micro:bit global. Over the last year, Microsoft has invested in a new web-based programming platform for physical computing in education, called Microsoft MakeCode (www.makecode.com). In this talk, I’ll describe the design principles behind the platform and our experience with it to date.

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