There were many highlights, in particular I should mention Freaky Clown and his tales of a hacker turned good. I won’t repeat his story of hacking a whole country in 7 seconds as that would be bad form, but safe to say it was engrossing stuff and our pupils were intrigued by his story.
I spent a good portion of the day talking with the team from the BBC who were there with their pre-alpha software that was the much rumoured and discussed BBC Micro 2.0. I’ve written about this previously when Keri Facer put out her call for a response on the topic.
Integral to the project are built in lessons that talk you through the basics of programming different projects (akin to taking a course on CodeCademy). Parmy talked me through the back end to this area where he is creating a tool that will allow anybody to create their own help file / course for others to use. If this project is really going to take off this will be crucial as they look to build a large community around the environment. Michael Sparks had put together some exercises for the young learners to have a go at for the day and I saw kids ranging from about 8 to 16 all enjoying their first stabs at programming. Response from teachers seemed a little mixed, I saw many who were as excited as me but I also heard some discussing what was one show as scary looking (these were Heads of ICT!). I think this shows what a long way we’ve got to go on the rebirth of computing in schools and in particular the huge skills gap that we have to overcome. Projects such as this are going to be crucial in skilling up the teachers as much as the learners.
More details about the extended BBC Hello World Project should be up at http://www.bbchelloworld.co.uk/ soon (it was online this morning but has disappeared again at the time of writing). I’m excited to see how this one develops.