Technobabble turns child consumers into creators (Wired UK)


Andy Robertson


Children are savvy consumers. Training starts from the first day
they step online or into the high street. While this isn’t all bad,
and in some ways inevitable, it can mean that they take longer to
realise they can create as well as consume. 

Programming is one route to this discovery, where young people
realise they themselves can create the sorts of video games they
enjoy playing. As part of the BBC’s 2015 Make It Digital initiative the Beeb is launching an
app to point kids in the right direction. 

Make
It: Technobabble
 is a point and click approach to
program video games that is accessible
to all ages yet deep enough to enable complex and engaging
creations.

The Make It app will partner with
different BBC brands but kicks things off with a
Technobabble module. If you’ve not watched CBBC for a
while, Technobabble is a programme about the future –
think tomorrow’s world for kids. 

Kids Test Make It: TechnobabbleFamilyGamerTV

Unlike similar (and equally impressive) game creator tools like Disney Infinity
or LittleBigPlanet there’s no need for an expansive
console or costly video game investment. The only requirement here
is access to the web and an active imagination
(along with some determination to make games). 

My kids have been transfixed by the beta version of Make
It
and it’s been great to see them take their first creative
steps into digital creativity. 

This is built on the theory that learning by doing is the best
way to teach programming to kids. This aims to emphasise the
importance of informal learning, experimentation, sharing, play and
support from peers. The theory suggests that this will not only
teach core programming but also related skills like collaboration,
experimentation, computational thinking and confidence.

Talking to John Howard, Executive Product Manager, he
highlighted the aim here. “The Kit aims to transform a generation
of young digital consumers into digital creators. To help users to
take their first creative steps and then inspire their creative
journey.” Certainly lofty aims, but with the BBC backing this
nicely sidesteps the usual commercial aspirations of other
products. 

Although this can seem like an entertaining distraction for
children, and yet another reason for them to bury their noses in a
screen, there is real learning going on here. That’s the ambition
at least. Howard explained, “from our perspective we want to get
across the core elements of computational thinking and that’s
around data processing, decision-making, index storage and
abstraction.”

If the video games and toys you’ve brought your family over
Christmas have already lost their shine, perhaps time spent
creating your own experiences with Make It: Technobabble is the perfect consumer
detox.

Andy Robertson is a freelance family gaming expert for the
BBC and runs  Family Gamer TV on YouTube.

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26 December 2014 | 6:00 am – Source: wired.co.uk

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