BBC launches children’s coding tool with Technobabble

The BBC has launched Make It: Technobabble, an off-shoot of its CBBC show, to help children create their own computer games and develop basic programming skills at the same time.

The Sunday morning show is aimed at teaching children about technology, gaming and apps, with simple tips and guides for them to follow. The tool, announced this week via a blog post, extends this to be a more interactive experience, encouraging the younger generation to consider careers in technology fields.

The tool is available to download from the CBBC website, and works with smartphones, tablets and PCs. Kids can use the editing tools to change the games' rules and appearance.

BBC Future Media's head of digital creativity, Martin Wilson, said: "It's a starter kit. It requires no technical knowledge, no download and works just as well on mobile and tablets as desktop. The only requirements are access to the web, a willingness to experiment and an idea. In minutes a child can create a game."

The venture is part of the BBC's Make It Digital initiative for 2014, and sets out to develop skills in children such as "collaboration, experimentation, computational thinking [and] confidence."

The initiative was announced in September, with the BBC acknowledging the UK's widening skills gap in areas such as coding, programming and digital technology and addressing the need to encourage younger people to embrace interest or aptitude early on.

This will then "start them on the road to learning higher order skills including coding itself," says Wilson.

Tony Hall, BBC director general, previously said: "We want to inspire a new generation to get creative with coding, programming and digital technology. It's exactly what the BBC should be doing."

The Make It tool is still in its early stages and is currently being tested ahead of a wider release. Early prototypes have already been aired at CBBC Live events in Gateshead and Birmingham. In Wilson's words, "young children were producing games even the developers hadn't considered."

Caroline Preece

Caroline has been writing about technology for more than a decade, switching between consumer smart home news and reviews and in-depth B2B industry coverage. In addition to her work for IT Pro and Cloud Pro, she has contributed to a number of titles including Expert Reviews, TechRadar, The Week and many more. She is currently the smart home editor across Future Publishing's homes titles.

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