Finnish national micro:bit pilot

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Announcing the Finnish micro:bit pilot

The University of Helsinki’s Innokas Network and the Micro:bit Foundation announce today a cooperative project for a national pilot of the BBC micro:bit in fifty Finnish schools.

The small and powerful micro:bit is already in use at fifteen schools around Finland. When the pilot launches this autumn, fifty more schools will join them with the aim of developing and sharing best practices, aligned to the Finnish National Core Curriculum, for the teaching of programming and robotics. The Micro:bit Foundation's CEO, Zach Shelby, explains: “throughout our pilot the Innokas Network will study how the teachers and children work and at what age pupils are most receptive to the micro:bit.” Two teachers from each participating elementary school will join a two-day micro:bit training course given by Innokas teachers at the University of Helsinki. At the end of the training each pair of teachers will return to their schools with twenty free micro:bit sets to take part in the pilot.

Finnish school class with micro:bits

The Innokas Network, coordinated by the University of Helsinki’s Faculty of Educational Sciences, promotes the use of digital technology in teaching and has a network of enthusiastic teachers throughout Finland. "This is exactly what the micro:bit needs," says Tiina Korhonen, Head of the Innokas Network, "an extensive and active teachers’ support network for its teaching tools."

The Micro:bit Educational Foundation became an independent non-profit organisation in October 2016 to manage the BBC micro:bit project started by the BBC with its twenty-nine partners a year ago. The project gave away one million micro:bits, one to every eleven to twelve year-old child in the UK. According to UK studies, it is easier and more fun to learn computer skills using the micro:bit and 87% of teachers said their pupils learned how to code with the device. Zach Shelby hopes some day all schools will offer the best teachers in the world the opportunity to use simple teaching tools for coding and robotics to help create a positive impact on girls and also boys and pupils from rural areas.

Small pilots are already being run in a few Finnish schools. Lauri Parkkonen, a class teacher, now works at the Joensuu Media Centre as an ICT instructor and coach for the Innokas Network and ran an initial micro:bit pilot. He has been waiting for a long time for a device like the micro:bit, which he believes solves many practical issues at once. “The micro:bit is affordable, easy to use and versatile," Parkkonen said. "It’s not tied to a particular platform, and it can be programmed using a block-based JavaScript editor or Python.” In his pilot project, Parkkonen used the micro:bit with first-graders, by integrating contents from visual arts and mathematics.

The main partner in Finland is the Innokas Network, the other partners are MeHackIt and Etteplan, who has helped sponsor the pilot.

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