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Help Kids Code publishes article on Bits & Bytes

When you’re a start up and trying to do something that is perhaps more philanthropic based rather than commercial it’s hard to get publicity. But Bits & Bytes continues to surprise me. We’ve got some great articles coming out in the coming weeks and something else a little bit exciting too (more on that in a later blog).

Bits & Bytes came to the attention of a NY based magazine called “Help Kids Code” and they interviewed me for their latest issue. You can read the article here https://www.helpkidscode.com

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Tah day! We’ve reached our goal but why it’s important to go further!

Yesterday was a huge day for Bits & Bytes as it hit its target fund raising goal on Indiegogo. We can now proceed to the full production run, but with all things like this. The more games we produce the cheaper it will be (for example: going from 500 decks to 1000 decks makes it about 25% cheaper per deck to produce). Also, the more funds raised the more we can spend on the cards ensuring they are of the highest possible quality.

But more than this, the more funds we raise – the cheaper the production run and the better quality the cards are – and the more games we can give to primary schools in the UK for FREE.

Children can learn the fundamentals of computer coding, without using a computer, and Bits & Bytes will prove it.

Why should parents/teachers/schools have to increase the amount of “screen time” a child has (http://www.npr.org/blogs/ed/2014/08/28/343735856/kids-and-screen-time-what-does-the-research-say), simply to comply with the new curriculum. The answer is they shouldn’t have to but the alternatives are limited and expensive – except for Bits & Bytes.

Bits & Bytes is a first. It’s simply to pay, it’s fun, it’s affordable, it teaches the fundamentals of computer coding, and it’s a card game!

The more schools/parents/teachers that are aware of Bits & Bytes then the greater the chance is that children will begin their journey into the world of computer coding without having to use a computer or electronic device. Children will be developing a logical and problem solving mindset without realising it and while having fun (and adults don’t need to understand computers to make this happen).

Sounds empowering right?

Please spread the word and support Bits & Bytes.

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Our children should be a generation of creators

We’re a day and a half into the crowd funding campaign and already we have picked up some great supporters who share our passion for providing as many children as possible with the tools they need to learn the fundamentals of coding. Bits & Bytes is one such tool.

I think it is important to remind people of why it is important for children to learn coding. I was putting this post together but then found this quote which I think sums it up perfectly, so rather than “rebuild the wheel”…

As Joanna Shields, the Chair of Tech City UK and a Non-Executive Director of the London Stock Exchange Group, says:

The way we work, live and experience the world is changing. Digital tools are helping everyone, not just engineers and computer scientists, to create exciting new experiences, products and services. If we want our kids to be more than just passive consumers – if we want them to become a generation of creators and makers – we need to teach them about the building blocks of today’s world.”

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The crowd funding campaign for Bits and Bytes is live

Learning the fundamentals of computer coding is made easy by Bits and BytesAfter weeks (and I do mean weeks) of preparation the crowd funding campaign for Bits and Bytes is live on Indiegogo. You can click here to go to Indiegogo and help make Bits and Bytes a reality. The campaign is starting with two special perks (rewards) – and EARLY BIRD SPECIAL perk and the BUY ONE – DONATE ONE perk. For £15 (25% discount on the normal price) you can be one of the first people to own a copy of Bits & Bytes (fresh off the press) by buying the EARLY BIRD SPECIAL perk. However, as a limited offer, for a small £10 more you can not only receive a copy of the game but also donate one to a primary school registered in our “Giving to Primary Schools” programme. So you receive the game but you also provide a primary school with a tool to help teach their pupils the fundamentals of computer coding. It’s the BUY ONE – DONATE ONE perk. There are many other special rewards (perks) available in return for your support. If you want to support Bits and Bytes in other ways then please help spread the word. Tell your families and friends about Bits and Bytes. There are sharing buttons below or you can go to the Indiegogo website and use their sharing buttons to spread the word.

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Watch the Crowd Funding video for Bits & Bytes now

It is less than 9 days until the Crowd Funding campaign officially starts but the video supporting the campaign is already live. So if you can’t wait for the campaign to start and would like to watch the video now (it is only 90 seconds long) and see some footage of children playing Bits & Bytes, then you can watch it above. If you prefer you can watch it on YouTube by clicking here.

And remember the Crowd Funding campaign starts on Tuesday 26th August (8am UK time). Please spread the word.

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What is Crowd Funding?

I received a question today on the Bits & Bytes Facebook page asking “What is Crowd Funding?”

Crowd Funding is not a new phenomenon, indeed the humble telethon (think “Red Nose day” if you are in the UK) is an example of Crowd Funding. In the case of a telethon a charity is raising money to achieve an objective (i.e.: help the homeless, etc) and in return for entertainment (i.e.: celebrities giving up their time) people donate money to help the charity to reach their goals (or exceed it).

This is crowd funding! People giving a small amount of money, which when accumulated allows people/businesses to obtain a larger fundraising goal.

The big difference is that these days the act of crowd funding is no longer limited to televisions, etc but can be ran on platforms (websites) like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. These platforms, in effect, have democratised crowd funding (allowed the crowd funding approach to be accessible to anyone).

More often than not crowd funding is used by people/businesses in the creative industry (i.e.: people want to make a movie, produce an album, release a card game, etc) who would be unable to find traditional funding (investments, loans, etc) due to the risky and/or creative nature of what they propose. In the case of Bits & Bytes, whilst there is clearly a need for something like Bits & Bytes (the UK government has made it compulsory and all children should be learning to code), it would not be considered attractive for any form of investment until it had a sales track record behind it. Sort of a case of the “chicken and the egg” (without the investment you can’t release the game, but without the game being released you can’t get the investment).

So just like a telethon that offers entertainment in exchange for your support, I have lined up a range of “perks” (rewards) that in exchange for your support you will receive. I don’t look upon it as you’re making a donation, rather you’re buying something and at the same time your support allows Bits & Bytes to become a reality.

Once the crowd funding campaign is live for Bits & Bytes (on Tuesday the 26th August) I will include a link on the front page of the website and on Facebook, so it is easy for you to locate. And you don’t have to worry about security of the transaction – you can pay via credit/debit cards or PayPal (and all data is sent across encrypted HTTPS connection – which is what the banks use to protect you when banking online).

If you have more questions about Crowd Funding then please contact me through the contact page on this website – I will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have or to address any of your concerns.

 

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The journey so far

What started as a kernel of an idea scribbled into my notes over two years ago has become Bits & Bytes. I remember the driving force for the idea being that my oldest was in reception (age 4-5) and I was convinced he could start developing the mindset needed for computer coding without using a computer and indeed without even knowing how to write. My priorities for the idea of the game was two fold – it had to appeal to a diverse audience and, secondly, it had to encourage creativity. The next step was establishing the best format for the game. I contemplated creating it as a board game, even as an application on a tablet device, but eventually decided on a card game. Why a card game? Living in London (in fact, living anywhere with children) space is a luxury. The boys rooms were already littered with board games, lego and other toys so I decided I wanted Bits & Bytes to be compact – small enough to be able to take on holidays. Further, I felt a board game places boundaries on a child’s creativity and that a card game was much more flexible. Thus I now had the idea and I had the format. The next step was the design. Bearing in mind one of my priorities for Bits & Bytes is for it to appeal to a diverse audience the design needed to reflect this. By this stage I had volunteered to teach coding to the years 5 and 6 at the local primary school and this allowed me to see first hand what children were reading, how they were interacting, their level of capability and more. The most striking fact that stood out for me is that we, as parents, think our children are experts on computers. We see the way they use tablets and computers but the reality is that children know how to operate a computer but they don’t understand how it works. In effect the computer has been “dumbed down” for them. And as most parents would know the way computers operate has changed drastically in the last 30 years and it shows no signs of slowing down in the future. If things continue as they are then in 30 years time our children will be watching their children and commenting on how good they are with computers. Over the last 12 months Bits & Bytes has gone through several incarnations and a few of those were printed out for testing (I’ve gone through lots of print cartridges) until settling upon a design. Ten decks of “demonstration” cards were produced of this design and duly handed over to a primary school for thorough testing within all year groups at the school (from reception through to year 6). The next big test was going away on a camping holiday with friends and their two boys. It was originally an opportunity to test the game’s portability but, after the continual downpour of rain that lasted the three days we were camping, it became our saviour. Being confined to a tent could have been a disaster but the children played Bits & Bytes for hours, continually reinventing the rules but still being true to the essence of the game. After this came the preparation for the upcoming crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo. There were children to film using the game (permission from parents to be sought), a website to build, social media presence to establish, meeting with manufacturers and printers, and much more. I also found a talented new graphic artist, Brett Newman, to redesign all the characters in the game (this work is still underway but will be complete in the next few weeks). And that brings us to here, the imminent launch of the crowd funding campaign. I’m still finalising the strategy for the launch (on Tuesday 26th August) and there has been a few other unexpected hurdles. For example, Indiegogo decided to unexpectedly change their setup process, which necessitated me having to spend time changing the campaign after I thought it was ready to go.  But despite the last minute hurdles everything is coming together, all that remains is for me to press the button, cross my fingers and watch the campaign go live. Thanks to everybody who has helped so far and for the kind words – it is much appreciated.