How Did I Get There?
Feel free to check out my lengthy reflections, interspersed with screenshots.
Why Do I Love Scratch?
It is FUN and the opportunities for building are virtually ENDLESS. As a teacher there are endless opportunities for building closed or open-ended learning games and resources for students. Even better, students can build resources as a platform to share information with other students, and learn digital literacy in the process! It works WAY quicker than Powtown did on my computer, and there are infinitely more possibilities for what you can do in regards to animation to get your points across. You can work by trial and error, and share your creations with others, creating an awesomely-accessible network of learning for all.
To my knowledge, you cannot see the actual text coding of your Scratch projects – therefore you really are only doing half the work and seeing half of the full picture. (IF I AM WRONG PLEASE CORRECT ME!) The fact that we can’t see our text coding AFTER we make our project (and learn backwards how to design from text) is a bit upsetting because I like full transparency in my learning. I want to know how to do it ALL. I don’t just want to pull out “the right” card in the magic trick, I want to learn how to recreate the magic trick and learn how to place “the right card at the right time”. Get my analogy?
I do, however, like this format better than the An Hour of Code that Katia introduced us to. I do recognize that I may not have seen all of the site’s capabilities, but I wasn’t really impressed by the young children’s coding games. I can see how for VERY beginning students, this is a good level of activity for them to get their feet wet. However it is also confusing, because I wonder if, at that young of an age, they will not know if they are coding (building the game) or just playing part of the game. I fell in sink or swim with HTML coding (if you wanted to see something, you made it from “scratch”) and I feel like I learned (and even retained) a lot of knowledge because of it.
When I played Sprite Box I kept hopping in and out of game-mode to build-mode so often that I wasn’t entirely sure of what I was doing, either. In Scratch I at least have freedom to do what I want, whereas in the Spite Box game I was locked into doing a special string of events. I couldn’t trial and error learn until I got what I wanted, but I feel that trial and error and independence is always the best form of learning, rather than being spoon-fed the right way to do everything.
When it comes down to it, I know me – individually – I would like a site like Code Academy which lets you build from scratch – from smaller to bigger projects. However I had loads of fun on Scratch and it at least gives you a good chunk of the idea of what coding is all about, and especially why it is so important.
Why is coding important?
We need to know coding to build any kind of program on a computer. We wouldn’t have websites, games, any kind of computational organization without coding – and we have come a long way from entering text prompts (“commands”) into MS DOS but everything we do (clicking the mouse, typing on the keyboard) has a hidden language behind it. It is just perhaps more hidden, now, than it was in the times of MS DOS. The people who know and can “speak” that hidden language of coding have an immense amount of power over those who don’t, because the digital world is – as we have said multiple times in ECMP – integrated and inseparable with our “real” world.