16 Jun 2022

Ethical Dilemma Cafe Kicks Off Community Ethics In Tech Project

The following post was written by MozFest Community member Craig Steele and originally posted on Mozilla Festival website. Image Credits: Connor B. and Craig Steele.


How much do you value your personal information? Would you be willing to hand over some personal information in exchange for a free coffee? That’s exactly what I did when I visited a café where the currency is your data.

Being part of the Mozilla community

I’ve been a fan of Mozilla (and Firefox user) ever since I first joined the web. Then, in 2013, I was awarded a “Digital Makers Fund” grant from Mozilla, Nominet, and Nesta to grow CoderDojo, a network of volunteer-led coding clubs for young people in Scotland.

Since then I’ve continued to follow the Mozilla Foundation, and have joined the community every year at MozFest. At the most recent MozFest, my colleague Daniel and I led an interactive activity where we looked at how data science is used to defend rhinos from poachers

The Mozilla Festival is a key moment on my calendar. It’s a great way to connect with likeminded technologists and creatives. I always learn something new, and usually leave filled with ideas. It’s that excitement that drew me to take part in the Ethical Dilemma Café spin-off event.

My trip to the Ethical Dilemma Cafe

The Feel Good Club on Hilton Street in Manchester, was transformed into the Ethical Dilemma Café. Mozilla and the BBC’s Research and Development department worked together to create this event to get people thinking about data consent and privacy.

So what is it? The Ethical Dilemma Cafe is a cafe with a catch. Even before stepping inside we were warned we were consenting to have our personal data tracked in the café. By opening the door, we were agreeing to those terms and conditions.

Inside, there were microphones and cameras placed beside the tables; watching and listening to everything going on inside. Some of those cameras and microphones could be controlled remotely by visitors to the website.

To get the free coffee, Daniel scanned a QR code on his lanyard, and then logged into the “Coffee with Strings” app. This is the point where you have to answer a personal question, handing over sensitive details to get your free coffee. Once you’ve answered you get the virtual token to exchange at the till.

Being spied on while you sip a latte isn’t something you’d normally expect in a local coffee shop, but the café is a metaphor for today’s Internet. Often online we’re given something we really want – the latest music, news articles, entertaining videos on YouTube – but it’s not truly free – we’re trading some of our personal data in exchange for what we want.

Other things to explore in the café

As well as the free coffee, The Ethical Dilemma Café had a bunch of things to see and do. There were installations, talks, and workshops by BBC R&D, Lancaster University, Open Data Manchester CIC, and Northumbria University.

My highlights include Edge of Tomorrow, an arcade game by Lancaster University. This game explained some of the environmental effects that can be caused by cyber attacks.

A data visualisation from Open Data Manchester got us to use lego blocks to plot our happy places. The coloured bricks representing our happiness levels, and where we placed them on the map corresponded with the place we were most happy.

Daniel and I crushed into The Caravan of the Future, an immersive design showcasing what the living room of the future might look like. Using voice assistants, we were able to speak directly to the caravan and it adjusted the lights, temperature, and environment to suit us. Based on the way we looked and our facial expressions it even tried to recommend a TV show it thought we might enjoy.

Want to help school pupils fight biased algorithms?

This research trip was the perfect start to our own new education project: we’re creating an “Ethics in Tech” interactive learning resource that will help primary school pupils learn about racist, sexist, and ageist computer algorithms. We need to prepare the next generation of digital leaders to understand the dangers of biased algorithms. To fight inequality, they need to know how to spot them, and how to tackle them.

As part of the research and development phase, I want to connect with technology professionals across the country who have experience creating algorithms that directly affect people. Get in touch with me if you want to learn more.

The “Ethics in Tech” project is supported by Digital Xtra Fund, a Scottish charity that helps enable extracurricular digital tech activities for young people, and is funded by the Scottish Government.

The Ethical Dilemma Café challenged me to think about the value of personal data, and how data and algorithms shape our world today. It was fun taking part in this small scale event, and it definitely got me more excited for next year’s Mozilla Festival.

About the Author

Craig Steele is a computer scientist, educator, published author, and creative technologist, who helps people develop digital skills in a fun and creative environment. His company, Digital Skills Education, offers digital skills training across Scotland and internationally.

Share this
02 Jun 2022

Aberdeenshire education charity receives Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service

The following post was written by Ellie Milne and originally posted in The Press and Journal.


An Aberdeenshire education charity has received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service

Cromar Future Group, based near Tarland, who received a grant award from Digital Xtra Fund in 2019, aims to bring science and technology activities to the local community.

Focusing on smaller rural schools with limited resources, the charity supports primary school teachers with their science curriculum and believes children learn best when they get “hands on”.

Volunteers design sessions to ensure this can happen by refurbishing and loaning equipment to schools.

The Everything Electronic Youth Club helps youngsters develop digital skills, including coding electronics, film-making and digital art and sound.

Prize-winning youngsters

The charity has adult tutors and youth club members, including the “outstanding” Jamie Holroyde, who was one of the first youngsters to join.

He has been asked to accept the Queen’s Award at the ceremony to recognise his contribution to the club.

Lesley Ellis, trustee and club organiser, said: “Jamie came to us having taught himself to write python code in order to develop a simulation of planetary orbits.

“With our help, he has continued to stretch himself, obtaining an international CoderDojo award and a Gold Crest Science Award. He is now our most senior regular python coach.

“Accompanying him, will be tutors Millie and Harvey Pole, both also winners of the international CoderDojo award and winners of three film awards, and Thorfinn Sigurhansson who is our digital sound coach. His passion was demonstrated most ably when partnered with another member Jacob to win two film awards.”

Share this
23 May 2022

National roll-out of micro:bits to Scotland’s primary schools

The following article originally appeared on Micro:bit Educational Foundation website on 23rd May 2022.


Scotland’s Education Secretary celebrates world-leading investment in Computing Science at primary age with school visit. Methilhill Primary School in Fife, Scotland, welcomed Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, Shirley-Anne Somerville, for a visit to meet children using the new micro:bit coding devices. The tiny computers are being given to all primary, secondary and additional support needs schools in Scotland as part of a landmark investment to improve the quality of, and participation in, computing science and digital literacy in Scottish schools.

Delivered by education non-profit, The Micro:bit Educational Foundation, the micro:bits are pocket-size entry-level coding devices that offer children an enjoyable entry into coding and computing science. There are over six million devices already in use across the globe, including most UK secondary schools. In the coming weeks, all primary schools across Scotland will receive twenty devices alongside a host of new teaching resources tailored for primary school level in a world-leading investment from the Scottish Government to develop digital skills in even younger children.

During her visit, Somerville saw the devices come to life in the hands of children aged between 6-8 in an exciting, interactive lesson around health and wellbeing. micro:bit ambassadors shared an insight into the wide range of capabilities the nifty devices offer, while teachers at the school explained first-hand how the new investment is helping integrate digital skills and computational thinking into lessons across the entire curriculum as part of the Scottish Government’s Scottish Technology Ecosystem Review programme.

Investing in future skills

Digital skills and computational thinking can greatly enhance a child’s creativity and life chances. However, recent research from The Micro:bit Educational Foundation found that 61% of primary school teachers in the UK responsible for teaching computing have no background in the subject, while three in five cite lack of resources as a barrier to teaching computing.

Shirley-Anne Somerville, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, Scottish Government: “It has been inspiring to see first-hand how these devices can help to get children thinking creatively and to be enthused about technology. It’s an exciting prospect to imagine these scenes being replicated in schools all over Scotland in the coming weeks and months, and we’re proud to be leading the world in creating quality engagement in computing sciences among our young learners.”

Aimée Fagan, Head of Partnerships at Micro:bit Educational Foundation, said: “Digital literacy and computational thinking are increasingly important core skills, and we know the earlier you learn them, the better. Today has been a brilliant showcase of the possibilities micro:bits offer in the hands of younger children and how accessible they can make the first steps into computing.”

>

Alix Rolland, Deputy Head Teacher at Methilhill Primary School, added: “We’re committed to embedding computing science and digital literacy into our classrooms, right across the curriculum. It’s been a joy to see the first of many micro:bit sessions at Methilhill Primary School today, and the support from Micro:bit has given our teachers the tools and confidence they need to get our children inspired by technology.”

About Micro:bit Educational Foundation

The Micro:bit Educational Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation founded in the UK in 2016, with the aim of inspiring every child to create their best digital future.

We do this by:

·      developing hardware and software that inspires young people to get excited about technology and the opportunities it presents for them

·      creating free, user-friendly educational resources to support teachers in delivering engaging and creative lessons

·      working with like-minded partners to deliver high-impact educational programmes across the globe.

The micro:bit launched in the UK in 2016 by giving free devices to every S1 / Year 7 student as part of BBC Make it Digital, an unprecedented and highly ambitious project. It is now not only being used in most secondary schools to teach 11 – 14-year olds but is also popular with primary school teachers for 5 – 11-year olds.

The Foundation has donated micro:bits to key institutions, including the National Centre for Computing Education’s schools lending scheme in England, Digital Xtra Fund in Scotland, Ulster Universities and Libraries NI in Northern Ireland.  Through these schemes, approximately 30,000 devices were donated directly to schools, libraries and NGOs.

The Foundation offered up to 5,000 micro:bits to families in the UK wanting to continue learning at home during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Following a single tweet, the Foundation received 8,500 requests in 13 hours.

Editorial enquiries

You can contact the Micro:bit Educational Foundation at [email protected]

Share this
06 May 2022

Scottish pupils to learn about dangers of biased data to help tackle inequality

The following was written by Poppy Watson, and originally posted in FutureScot.


A new learning resource will teach Scottish pupils about the dangers of biased computer algorithms – equipping them with the skills needed to spot and tackle inequalities such as racism, sexism and ageism.

The ‘Ethics in Tech’ lesson content is being created by Digital Skills Education, which develops and delivers digital skills projects across Scotland and internationally.

The interactive resource will show primary school pupils how personal data is used to make decisions that affect our everyday lives – whether that’s what song a music app recommends, or whether someone is eligible for free school transport.

Craig Steele, director of Digital Skills Education, says these decision-making algorithms can have benefits – but they can also go wrong.

For example, one technology company identified their algorithm used for recruiting new employees was found to be biased against women. This led to fewer women being invited to job interview.

He said: “We need to prepare the next generation of digital leaders to understand the dangers of biased algorithms. To fight inequality, they need to know how to spot them, and how to tackle them.”

The online programme will be made available free-of-charge to schools in Scotland in early 2023, before being made available worldwide.

Daniel Devine, project manager, Digital Skills Education, said: “We want to show pupils how to use data and code to make decisions in a ‘fair’ way. We’ll challenge them to create their own algorithm that uses data to rank or select students and try to be as fair as possible. They’ll implement their algorithms using computer code and see the results.”

As part of the research and development phase, the organisation wants to connect with technology professionals across the country who have experience creating algorithms that directly affect people.

The project is being funded by Scottish charity Digital Xtra Fund, which supports digital skills initiatives for young people across Scotland.

Kraig Brown, partnerships and development manager at Digital Xtra Fund, said: “Over the past six years, we’ve supported over 100 activities that have helped thousands of young people to create with technology.

“These new Ethics in Tech activities will now also encourage young people to ask if they should, ethically speaking, build something and if so, what elements they need to consider beyond the code.

“It will be one of three new Ethics in Tech projects being developed in partnership with the Scottish Government. We’re thrilled to be working with Craig and Daniel who already have lots of experience creating unique and meaningful tech activities for young people.”

Share this
04 May 2022

How CGI’s commitment to diversity is providing opportunities for the next generation of Scots to forge careers in tech

The following was written by CGI, and originally posted in Business Scotland.


The technology sector is flourishing. Opportunities that come with skilled jobs are continuing to grow apace. But for some, that world of opportunity can still feel light years away.

That is why companies like CGI have committed themselves to not only invest in a skilled workforce, but also make sure that workforce is diverse, with opportunities to show their talent in an equal and inclusive workplace.

In Scotland today, the hunt is on to find the next generation of coders, cyber security experts and systems engineers. Since CGI established its presence north of the border, it has built up its own diverse workforce thanks to its commitment to investing in a skilled workforce.

It does so through its recruitment of apprentices. In 2012, the global IT business consulting services company introduced its Graduate Apprenticeships Programme to Scotland. The programme sees CGI work in partnership with Glasgow Caledonian University and Edinburgh Napier University to attract young people with a passion for technology.

Students study towards a four-year BSc Honours degree – in Software Development at Glasgow Caledonian or IT Management for Business at Napier – while also spending time to develop their career on real-life projects at the company, which has offices in both Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Those chosen are given a permanent contract from Day One, with a paid starting salary of £19,000. Maria Whittingham, Early Careers Recruitment Specialist at CGI, says such a starting salary provides a huge opportunity for people who might otherwise not consider a career in STEM due to the cost of a more traditional university education.

She said: “CGI is all about providing opportunities for students from every type of background, and this is a brilliant opportunity for people to progress their careers as well as their education.

“The way these opportunities are structured is meant to be totally inclusive: it takes into account those who may have different learning styles, and who in fact benefit far more from complementing their learning with real-life experience in a work setting.

“So at CGI, we are both growing our own talent and widening our outlook, perspectives and viewpoints because our workforce has become much more diverse.”

CGI currently has eight graduate apprentices in Scotland. Glasgow Caledonian’s Software Development for Business course is more technology based while Napier’s is an IT Management for Business degree.

Maria continued: “There are also technical graduate opportunities for people with an interest in IT, software development and software testing. For these roles we accept graduates from all degree disciplines but they do need to show some evidence of skills like programming.

“People with STEM degrees tend to go for technology posts, but we have also had people from other degree backgrounds who have an interest in programming. For them, we provide all the training they need when they join the company.”

Within CGI, the company is determined to break the gender bias in technology. Nearly 4 in 10 members of its senior leadership team in the UK are women, while more than 90% of female staff –– known as members – put forward for promotion were successful this year.

CGI recently joined the Valuable 500 – a global movement putting disability on the business leadership agenda. Its own peer-to-peer network enables members with different disabilities or areas of interest to share ideas and provide mutual support.

CGI’s peer-to-peer network for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) members emphasises the importance of celebrating various cultures within CGI, while its LGBT+ network supports and represents UK members from all minority sexual orientations and gender identities.

The organisation has been shortlisted for Targetjobs National Graduate Recruitment Awards 2022 for best diversity and inclusion strategy, best school leaver programme, best on-boarding experience and best virtual recruitment experience. Each award is voted on and determined exclusively by students, undergraduates and school leavers.

Additionally, CGI backs charities such as Digital Xtra Fund, who enable extracurricular tech activities for young people across Scotland and encourages young girls from all backgrounds to join coding clubs which inspire them to consider careers in digital tech.

One example is Southmuir Primary School, in Kirriemuir, Angus, which used a £5,000 grant provided by the Fund to set up a club exclusively for 32 girls from P4 to P7 – who otherwise might never have encountered such an opportunity – to enjoy engaging ways to learn to code. It was so popular that the school also set up an equivalent club for boys.

Karen-Ruth Phillips, PT Raising Attainment at Southmuir Primary, said: “The club has fostered a really fun way of learning coding and STEM, through receiving digital badges and certificates which they earn for completing different levels of their Code.org course.

“Engagement levels have been really high and the girls especially have not only enjoyed it themselves, they have even got their parents looking into additional coding and STEM activities.”

Kraig Brown, Digital Xtra Fund’s Partnerships and Development Manager, said: “Our goal is for every young person in Scotland to have access to innovative and meaningful activities, regardless of their gender, background, or where they live. This goal has been encapsulated perfectly by the excellent STEM club at Southmuir.”

Lyndsey Teaz, Vice President and Scotland Business Unit Leader (Interim), said: “CGI believes passionately in supporting the communities in which we live and work and it has never been more important to encourage talent and innovation in our sector.

“It is tremendous to see so many young people from all over the country, from different backgrounds. I personally, being a woman in tech, am delighted to see more young girls developing a huge enthusiasm for STEM education.

“We are committed to helping more and more people on their journey and we look forward to seeing the results over the coming months and years.”

Share this
29 Apr 2022

A day of competition at the YESC Regional Celebration of STEM

50 young people from both primary and secondary schools gathered at Aberdeen Science Centre to take part in SCDI’s Young Engineers and Science Clubs (YESC) Regional Celebration of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) in partnership with BP and SHELL U.K. Limited.

The day featured 3 competitions as teams showcased their projects and contended for the competition prizes.

The event included a primary and secondary STEM competition, with industry volunteers and partners each providing a five-minute, hands-on challenge focusing on teamwork and problem solving.  The challenge doubles up as an opportunity to provide the young people with an insight into the different career paths available in the STEM industry. Our partners at Digital Xtra Fund provided drop-in robotics activities on the day.

The primary school STEM Challenge winner was Danestone Primary School, Aberdeen City.  The secondary school STEM Challenge winner was Elgin High School, Moray. An additional teamwork prize of a heliport site visit and simulator experience was provided by Bristow, and was awarded to Aberdeen Grammar School.

The event also hosted the regional heat of Construct a crane. Teams received a free kit of resources to design and build a working model crane.  Teams then took part in an exciting challenge to move cargo and find the winning design. Clerkhill Primary (Team1), Aberdeenshire and Elgin High School, Moray produced the winning designs.

Schools also showcased their projects to win the ‘Club of the Year’ titles (primary and secondary).  The 2022 Club of the Year titles were awarded to Clerkhill Primary School, Aberdeenshire and Peterhead Academy, Aberdeenshire.

Primary STEM Challenge Winner: Danstone Primary School, City of Aberdeen

Secondary STEM Challenge Winner: Elgin High School, Moray

Construct a Crane Primary Winner: Clerkhill Primary (Team1), Aberdeenshire

Construct a Crane Secondary Winner: Elgin High School, Moray

Bristow Heliport visit and simulation experience: Aberdeen Grammar School

Primary Regional Club of the Year Winner: Clerkhill Primary School, Aberdeenshire

Secondary Regional Club of the Year Winner: Peterhead Academy, Aberdeenshire

 

Further information:

The following 10 Clubs took part in the event:

  • Aberdeen Grammar School, Team 1, Aberdeen City
  • Aberdeen Grammar School, Team 2, Aberdeen City
  • Clerkhill Primary School, Team 1, Aberdeenshire
  • Clerkhill Primary School, Team 2, Aberdeenshire
  • Danestone Primary School, Aberdeen City
  • Elgin High School, Moray
  • Lochside Academy, Aberdeen City
  • Peterhead Academy, Aberdeenshire
  • Riverbank Primary School, Aberdeen Primary School

The organisations providing STEM Challenges were ASCO, Bristow, BP, BSW Timber, Digital Xtra Fund, Kaefer, ORE Catapult, Shell UK Ltd, Tilhill, Vysus Group and Wood

 

The Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI) is Scotland’s Economic and Social Forum. It is an independent membership network representing a cross-section of the private, public and social economy sectors in Scotland with an aim of influencing the agenda to ensure long-term sustainable economic growth and flourishing communities everywhere in Scotland.

SCDI’s Young Engineers and Science Clubs programme has played a leading role in growing interest and sparking enthusiasm in STEM subjects for over 30 years. There are now more than 1,500 primary and secondary schools in our network throughout Scotland’s 32 local authority areas, engaged in a variety of both curriculum linked and extra-curricular projects.

Since its inception in 2016, Digital Xtra Fund has supported various projects delivered by YESC. DXF continue our support this year for a COP26-related project, Code vs Climate, which is around climate tech. For more details about this and previous year’s project, please visit Round VI (2021/2022) initiatives supported by Digital Xtra Fund. 

Share this
21 Apr 2022

Edinburgh Science Festival: Children trained in coding to block cyber attacks

The following was written by Rachel Keenan, and originally posted in Edinburgh Live.


Edinburgh Science Festival continues with more interactive events for children, including coding sessions to teach kids how to evade hackers.

Children are being taught how to halt hackers in an exclusive coding event running at Edinburgh Science Festival

Information technology company CGI has been holding the coding sessions in a bid to teach youngsters digital skills to block cyberattacks.

The company has offered these interactive drop-in MicroCoders mini-sessions as part of the Datasphere exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland.

Supported by Digital Xtra Fund, the event involved giving children five minutes to use a micro:bit programming interface to generate an encryption key to stop hackers from stealing important data.

The fund has awarded grants of up to £5,000 to initiatives across Scotland including MicroCoders to appear at this year’s Edinburgh Science Festival.

The charity aims to help children aged 16 and under develop digital skills by offering grants to extracurricular tech initiatives across Scotland.

Teaching digital skills in an engaging and interactive way is at the forefront of the charity’s mission.

Since its creation in 2016 Digital Xtra Fund has awarded £725,000 to 102 initiatives to support teaching children about digital fields.

Westaly Duignan, Senior Development Manager at Edinburgh Science, said: “As an educational charity, Edinburgh Science values the importance of providing immersive and thought-provoking STEM opportunities for young people.

“We were delighted to receive funding from Digital Xtra Fund, which is supported by CGI, to develop and run our drop-in MicroCoders activity at this year’s Edinburgh Science Festival, which allows young people to meet and learn from cyber security and digital skills professionals.

“MicroCoders is a taster version of a larger STEM careers event we run in November, designed to inspire 3,000 young people to consider the fields of science and technology, employment opportunities in STEM industries and the many possibilities that studying these subjects can bring.”

The coding event is running until April 24 at the National Museum of Scotland.

To know more about Edinburgh Science Festival’s MicroCoders activity and other initiatives supported by Digital Xtra Fund for the year 2021/23, visit: Round VI (2021/2022).

Share this
31 Mar 2022

Digital skills to receive major boost as 57,000 micro:bits are donated to Primary Schools

The following article originally appeared on businesswire.com on 30 March 2022.


The Micro:bit Educational Foundation, in partnership with the Scottish Government and Nominet, will donate 57,000 micro:bits across UK primary schools. Support from the Scottish Government will see every primary school in Scotland receive devices while England, Wales, and Northern Ireland will prioritise primary schools that require additional support. With many secondary schools now using micro:bits in the classroom, the project aims to boost support for younger children and provide  teacher resources.

The Micro:bit Educational Foundation, who is the organisation behind the single-board microcontroller, has announced plans to help even more primary school children take their first steps into digital creativity and computing. In addition to the donation of hardware, comprehensive teaching resources and online Continuing Professional Development courses will also be made available.

As digital skills and computing become increasingly important core skills, this major boost to teaching these subjects will see approximately 3,000 UK primary schools receive around 20 devices each. Support from the Scottish Government will see every primary school in Scotland receive 20 devices, with the Foundation and Nominet working with primary schools in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to prioritise 22,000 devices to those that need additional support the most. Delivery of devices will begin from April onwards.

Having launched in 2016, today there are 6 million micro:bits being used by children all over the world, including most UK secondary schools. The Foundation has also seen growing adoption and demand from primary schools to teach 8 – 11-year-olds with the devices. With this major project, the Micro:bit Educational Foundation aims to boost usage in primary schools even further, providing the devices and resources to help teachers make coding exciting, accessible, and something they can teach confidently to younger children.

Teaching digital skills from a young age has impressive results and understanding computational thinking can greatly enhance a child’s creativity and life chances. However, research underpinning the project from the Micro:bit Educational Foundation and Nominet found that 61% of UK primary teachers responsible for teaching computing have no background in the subject, 3 in 5 also cite lack of resources as a barrier to teaching computing and digital skills.

Gareth Stockdale, CEO of the Micro:bit Educational Foundation, said: “Digital literacy and computational thinking are critically important not only to the future of our society, but to the future of children who will one day shape that society. They are increasingly important core skills, and we know that the earlier you learn them, the better. The micro:bit has become an essential tool that teachers and students alike have come to love. We’ve seen fantastic adoption in secondary schools, and we’re delighted to support and empower even more teachers to unlock children’s creative potential at primary level.”

Roll-out of the micro:bits will also complement a three-phase research programme, as the Foundation looks to assess, monitor and address the challenges, concerns and successes UK primary teachers experience improving digital literacy and in bringing micro:bits into the classroom.

Interested teachers and schools can visit the Micro:bit Educational Foundation website for more information.

Adam Leach, CTO, Nominet, said: “We are so pleased to see the continued roll-out of micro:bits in classrooms across the UK, enabling so many more primary school children to explore and develop their skills in digital creativity and computing. It’s exciting to think about the potential passion for technology this programme could set alight. On a practical level, it is really important that access to learning these essential skills is provided to children who might not otherwise have the opportunity to discover, experiment and master them. Each one of the 57,000 devices will impact on developing children’s core digital skills as citizens of a digitalised world – and perhaps even put some of them on a pathway to help fill the digital skills gap in the UK’s digital workforce of the future.”

About Micro:bit Educational Foundation

The Micro:bit Educational Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation founded in the UK in 2016, with the aim of inspiring every child to create their best digital future.

We do this by:

  • developing hardware and software that inspires young people to get excited about technology and the opportunities it presents for them
  • creating free, user-friendly educational resources to support teachers in delivering engaging and creative lessons
  • working with like-minded partners to deliver high-impact educational programmes across the globe.

Note to editors

  • The micro:bit launched in the UK in 2016 by giving free devices to every year 7 student as part of BBC’s Make it Digital, an unprecedented and highly ambitious project. It is now not only being used in most secondary schools to teach 11 – 14-year olds but is also popular with primary school teachers for 8 – 11-year olds.
  • The Foundation has donated micro:bits to key institutions, including the National Centre for Computing Education’s schools lending scheme in England, Digital Xtra Fund in Scotland, Ulster Universities and Libraries NI in Northern Ireland. Through these schemes, approximately 30,000 devices were donated directly to schools, libraries and NGO’s.
  • The Foundation offered up to 5,000 micro:bits to families in the UK wanting to continue learning at home during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Following a single tweet, the Foundation received 8,500 requests in 13 hours.
  • A key aim of the Micro:bit Educational Foundation was to bring the benefits of the micro:bit to children and teachers around the globe, and is being used in projects across Africa, Asia, Australasia, the Americas and Europe.
Share this
30 Mar 2022

CodeClan partners with Baillie Gifford to launch youth academy

The following article appeared on insider.co.uk on 25 March 2022.


Scotland’s national digital skills academy CodeClan has partnered with Baillie Gifford, who have also supported Digital Xtra Fund’s grant awards programme since 2018, to launch a new youth-focused programme. The CodeClan Youth Academy will be aimed at young people aged 17 and over, providing them with programming skills required in an industry environment.

The eight-week course will be based in Edinburgh and include a four-week coding bootcamp at CodeClan followed by a four-week paid internship at an industry partner. With 10 spaces available in the first cohort, the programme starts on 4 July. CodeClan reckons students completing the course will be able to carry out tasks equivalent to the role of a junior front-end developer.

The bootcamp section at CodeClan will include training in HTML and CSS, presentation skills, JavaScript, NodeJS, and introductions to user experience and Angular.

Yvonne Robertson, chief of information systems staff at Baillie Gifford, said: “We believe it’s crucial that we all play a part in developing our young workforce and addressing the current digital skills gap by providing insight into the range of career opportunities within the technology sector.

“As an industry and a business community, we can collectively share our vast experience and knowledge to help guide young people to positive outcomes beyond school, such as apprenticeships or further education in tech.”

Melinda Matthews-Clarkson, chief executive at CodeClan, said: “We have a broad tech landscape in Scotland, from agriculture to creative industries and space tech, but we don’t have enough people to meet the growing needs of our economy – it’s time to rally the younger generation to build the skills we need to make our world a better place.”

In February, CodeClan partnered with Tigers, the Glasgow-based apprenticeship education provider, to co-deliver an education and mentorship programme aimed at providing more young people in Glasgow with the skills and confidence as a step towards securing employment.

Applications close on 6 May.

Share this
22 Feb 2022

How CGI’s Cyber Escape Experience provides a vital learning tool to boost cybersecurity

The following was written by CGI, and originally posted at futurescot.com.


In the two years since the outbreak of Covid-19, the world of work and communication for organisations, employees and stakeholders has changed beyond all recognition. The need to work from home, not to travel and to forego face-to-face meetings has seen a surge in remote working environments, and the use of digital channels, to manage and communicate with staff.

This has resulted in a growing opportunity for cybercriminals to exploit this move into the digital sphere with ever more sophisticated attacks, which in turn have brought new-found pressures to organisations, especially in the public sector, whose cybersecurity capabilities and resiliency are now being tested daily.

It’s created a ‘perfect storm’ for all of us when it comes to the range and scope of cyber threats, which have snared victims across every sector of society, some in a very public way.

With such increased problems comes increased opportunities for cybersecurity experts to find new ways of engaging with people to boost their knowledge and help them manage this rising threat.

CGI’s cybersecurity team has created a simple yet engaging way to assist in this process. It’s the Cyber Escape Experience – an escape room-style activity where people can learn about online security risks in a fun, interactive way. They team up to ‘beat the hacker’, and along the way learn about cybersecurity risks and how to avoid them.

The Experience is built within a shipping container and consists of a real-world setting of two rooms. Inside the rooms, groups of up to six work together to uncover clues, solve puzzles and accomplish cyber-related tasks to ‘escape’ in the time allowed by the ‘Gamesmasters’ – young CGI members trained to prompt and assist those taking part.

Lyndsey Teaz, business unit leader for CGI in Scotland, said: “The Cyber Escape Experience is a wonderful way of educating people to protect yourself online. It supports not only the education of children – the next generation of cybersecurity experts in Scotland – but also more ‘grown-up’ clients looking to upgrade their skills.”

The Cyber Escape Experience’s first journey to Scotland saw it visit Kemnay Academy, Aberdeenshire. There, the school’s S1 year revelled in the opportunity to learn critical skills in the simulated setting through the interactive activities, much like other escape rooms.

Through the Gamesmasters they learned about protecting their privacy and creating strong passwords, physical security, device and document handling, and navigating social media. Every pupil loved the ‘escape room’ experience, leaving with a far better knowledge of protecting themselves in the cyber world.

Now it’s back for Cyber Scotland Week, based at St Andrews RC School in Glasgow where it will put more pupils through their paces. From there, it is going on to North Lanarkshire, Edinburgh and the Borders, where NHS staff and executives will follow the rules laid down by the Gamesmasters. Lyndsey Teaz added: “That is the beauty of the experience. It works for all age groups across all sectors – as everyone’s lives, both working and personal, are now touched by all things cyber.

“CGI stands ready to help all those who want to learn more about cybersecurity, which is why we are delighted to be participating in this year’s Futurescot Cyber Security Scotland conference.”

CGI senior cyber consultant John Hales will present a masterclass at the Futurescot conference, focusing on how, during Covid-19, the rush to enable a hybrid workforce may have resulted in security taking a backseat to productivity. More information is available here.

Share this

© 2022 Digital Xtra Fund. All rights reserved. Read our Privacy Policy here

Click Me