Scratch 2 is now in beta, here.
Great timing, as just after a whole load of teacher resources for Scratch get published (CAS RPi manual, and RSE packs), Scratch 2.0 gets announced with a range of very useful additions to the language. More on this – and another version of Scratch with procedures – below.
My own modest OER contribution (see previous post) pales into insignificance next to a fantasic set of materials from Jeremy Scott, developed with the support of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the BCS, and a very useful resource (which would make an excellent partner) from Computing At Schools – both aimed at teaching (and supporting teachers) computing for middle/high-school students.
The introductory programming environment Scratch has rightly become quite popular globally as a fun way to introduce children to programming concepts and software development. BYOB is a UC Berkeley derivative that adds the ability to create reusable ‘blocks’ (functions), a feature missing in Scratch.
Now building on top of that, Sheldon Pacotti has released Game Blocks, a tool intended to support a class in writing and narrative design for games.
If the so-called ‘Digital Natives’ don’t know how to program a computer, are they really digitally literate? In his blog, Tony Forster presents an “argument for the authoring of interactive or programmable multimedia as an important meta-literacy skill.” It’s a good start to this particular discussion, I think.
Certainly, in traditional schooling literacy is not just about reading – it is also about authoring. With digital literacy, in writing blogs or posting videos to YouTube students are using digital technologies while authoring written or visual content. They are acting as consumers of digital technology while producing content. Full digital literacy requires the ability to create new interactive experiences – i.e. programming. This view is also presented by Mitch Resnick et. al. in their recent paper for CACM:
Resnick, M., Maloney, J., Monroy-Hernández, A., Rusk, N., Eastmond, E., Brennan, K., et al. (2009). Scratch: programming for all. Commun. ACM, 52(11), 60-67. doi: 10.1145/1592761.1592779
What it says… Eric Rosenbaum at MIT (where Scratch, the programming environment for children, is developed) has put together Scratch for Second Life – allowing the creation of LSL scripts via the Scratch system of drag-and-drop blocks.
Put this together with classes in Teen Second Life, and suddenly programming in Second Life becomes a whole lot more accessible!
I spotted this intriguing piece earlier in the week -” ‘Games’ to be taught in Scottish Schools”
The article doesn’t reveal much in the way of details but claims:
Scottish schoolchildren are to be taught the basics of video game design as part of the country’s new national curriculum – dubbed the ‘Curriculum of Excellence’.
According to the Press Association, the move is to designed to ‘create the next generation of young programmers’.
Schools minister Maureen Watt unveiled the scheme … and added that the new lessons will teach children how to use computer software to create animations and feature films.
The typo there is that it is the Curriculum for Excellence, not of Excellence. But more frustrating were my attempts to learn more about this. Eventually via an enquiry to LTS I found the relevant details here. I’ve had a chance to briefly review these, searched out the references to games, and given this a little thought…
31st of March will see the 8th Programming Workshop of the HEA-ICS. This time it’s being held at Glasgow University – very handy for myself, so hopefully I’ll be able to attend.
My colleague John Sutherland will be presenting on his experience of using Scratch with beginner programmers. No details yet, but there also appears to be something on the Nintendo Wii.