Posted by mattmarino on February 10th, 2010
Many younger students in today’s society are learning how to program using Alice. To show the depth of created software geared towards the educational field there is software similar in style to Alice, called Scratch. It is also geared towards computer programming.
Why Scratch is so well received by students?
Scratch is an interactive program that students can use to learn computer programming, without even knowing it. Scratch allows the student to select a variant of objects to “add to the story board” in order to create stories, games & videos. Scratch doesn’t have the extensive packages that Alice has which may make learning it easier for students.
Due to the simplicities of the software students are able to help each other if they struggle with the software. Students may be able to create multiple Scratch projects in the same amount of time they could create an Alice project.
Why Scratch may not be received well by students?
There is no age restriction on Scratch so anyone can use it. From speaking with various educators over the years about Scratch, it would appear the “niche” for Scratch is at the middle school level. The thought process is the software is a little too advanced for those from pre-K through fifth grade & a bit behind them as far as high school students are concerned.
Scratch isn’t in the same league with Alice, as far as being able to do different extensive tasks that can help teach various computer programming concepts. If a student has any issue with learning Scratch there is very limited information they can look through, mainly the forums on the Scratch website. Some students like when they are able to find helpful information on the program they are using.
Why Scratch is so well received by teachers/educators?
There are two primary reasons why Scratch is so well received by teachers/educators of all venues.
Firstly, Scratch is free to download. Due to this an administrator is more likely to allow your class to utilize it, because there is no cost involved. It also takes up very little space, so it may be possible to store it on all of your classroom computers, rather than just the head teachers’ computer.
Secondly, Scratch is much easier to learn than Alice & as a result teachers/educators do not have to spend all that much time learning a new software to implement it in the classroom.
Why Scratch may not be received well by teachers/educators?
There are two main reasons why teachers/educators frown upon using Scratch inside the classroom.
Firstly, teachers/educators will find if they are stuck when using Scratch it will be rather difficult to find an answer to their question. Their best bet would be to use the Scratch forums but chances are their questions won’t be answered. The only other real option they have is contacting the creators of Scratch & hoping for a prompt response (which isn’t likely).
Secondly, due to the structure of Scratch, mainly it’s easy use (for the most part), it doesn’t have the “hook” factor that Alice has. In fact it could have the exact opposite result. Due to the “simplicity” of Scratch it may be assumed that everything related to computer programming is very easy, which isn’t the case, & as a result if something comes across that is difficult, such as recursion, the student may end up quitting on the project because it was as simple as assumed.
My Summary of Scratch Programming
- It’s free!
- Not as good as Alice.
- Won’t create future computer students, may detract them from being computer students.
- Limited help offered for those that want it.