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BBC features Bits & Bytes

Last week was a great week for Bits & Bytes. The crowd funding campaign continued to go from strength to strength and publicity around the game grew to the point that BBC chose to feature Bits & Bytes in a news story about the tools primary schools are using to children to learn code. Fantastic kudos for Bits & Bytes.

I thought the story was great. The way the children’s faces are alive and they are clearly engaged. Also I thought there were a couple of “takeaways” that most people would probably have missed. I want to caveat this by saying any tool that empowers children into coding (and creates a diverse and creative audience for coding) is great. With that said, I couldn’t help but notice in the news story when they showed the children using Scratch on their computers they were quiet. Yes they were engaged with their screens – but is it just me who finds that odd, especially for children in KS1? Do we really want children to be learning in solitude with their eyes glued to their screens? The other tool featured were the Bee-Bots, which are great – but it was obvious from the news story that only a couple of children can use them at any time and they cost £60 each. Seems like an expensive option.

Of course, I am biased. But I love the way the children were playing with Bits & Bytes. Eyes wide open. Collaborating. Laughing. Studying their next move. And all at the same time learning the fundamentals of computer coding. Best of all, it costs £15 (early bird price) for one game of Bits & Bytes that four children can play at the same time.

You can watch the news story above.

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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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Reflecting on the crowd funding campaign to date

With FOUR days to go, and considering it’s a Sunday, I thought I would reflect on the past few weeks of running the crowd funding campaign. I’ll save my comments on Indiegogo for another blog post (they have been a bit of a nightmare unfortunately – but the campaign has succeeded despite them).

One week before the campaign went live everything was finally in place (the website was finished, manufacturer ready, etc). That was when I started the Facebook and Twitter presence to raise awareness and help communicate our achievements over the campaign (and don’t worry we’ll continue to use social media in the future to keep people aware of what we’re doing).

The campaign started with close friends and family contributing and as the days passed others spread the word and more people contributed. Leading people in the field of technology and education have supported Bits & Bytes. It’s been amazing to watch and I wasn’t quite sure it would be a success but WOW!

With 4 days to go we’ve raised 125% of the target, generated almost 150 games to donate to primary schools in the UK, have nearly 300 followers on Twitter, over 100 people liking Bits & Bytes on Facebook, have been interviewed/article written for four different publications, sold the game to Germany, USA, Australia, Netherlands, South Africa, Sweden and of course the UK.

All this and the game is still to come (late October). Imagine what might happen once we have the game and it’s been made possible because of you guys and our supporters. So a big thank you from me and pat yourself on the back from me. Thanks again.

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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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Working Dad’s blog on importance of teaching computer coding to children

I was asked to do a guest blog on a website for working Dad’s and it was published today. In the article I talk about why it is important for children to learn computer coding (and at the end there is a little plug for Bits & Bytes).

So if you’re curious about the importance of teaching computer coding to children then please have a read…

http://www.workingparent.info/learning-resources/how-to-teach-your-kids-to-programme-computers/

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The elephant in the room when it comes to teaching children Computer Coding

The new BBC Schools Primary Computing site launches today (you can find it here http://bbc.in/1qiMs0t).

I think these sites are great (I saw Ocado launched one yesterday as well, though I think that is more about slapping a coat of paint on somebody else’s work). And it is great that corporations are wanting to help children learn the fundamentals of coding and are getting involved.

But there is one big problem (sort of an elephant in the room).

When research is saying children shouldn’t use a screen (TV, tablet, computer, etc) for more than two hours a day it begs the question why are we encouraging children to use computers more?

I won’t bore you with the findings from a recent study on children and screen time but if you’re interested you can read it here… (http://www.npr.org/blogs/ed/2014/08/28/343735856/kids-and-screen-time-what-does-the-research-say).

Surely the answer is not to give children more reason to be on computers/tablets but to find alternatives that achieve the same aim without using a computer? This is what Bits & Bytes is about (and one of the main drivers in its creation). It teaches children the fundamentals of computer coding without any screen time.

Problem solved. Now if we can only get the government and corporations to listen.

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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.