quinta-feira, 14 de outubro de 2021

EU Codeweek: Coding on Mobile Devices

Dia 13 de outubro, online, tive a oportunidade de partilhar a experiência que vou tendo com o Pocket Code no TeachMeet do Online Bootcamp da EU Codeweek. Todo o evento pode ser visto aqui: Online Bootcamp MOOC: Best practices in EU Code Week TeachMeet.

Coding on Mobile Devices: Fostering CT and Coding Skills Using Mobile Devices

Why? Part of my experience comes from pandemic restrictions, but using mobile devices in education is, for me, a locigal extension of computing modes. A smartphone, a tablet, is essentially a small yet powerful computer, that enables us to go beyond desktop and laptop’s restrictions. They're other mode of computing, which I believe we can harness to further spark our pupils skills and abilities. Remember: which is the device that is always in your pocket, or near you, that no one leaves home without? Also, it’s a personal device, intimate, an extension of your being. so, why not use it to create?

Why not? On the other hand, smartphones are small devices; they expand or complement, but do not substitute, computers. Small devices and screens always bring questions about body posture, or eye strain. That’s something that must not be overlooked. Some of the most popular coding environments do not fit into small screens - for exmaple, Code.org is hard to use; Scratch is unusable. Coding apps on app stores are mostly very basic, focusing too much on step by step games that teach coding concepts, but are not development environments that allow children to create their own algorithms.

Which apps? I’ve started a couple of years ago with Tynker, which translates very well the type of interface that Scratch got us used to to mobile devices. Still, lately, I’ve fell in love with Pocket Code as a coding environment for children using mobile devices. Why? It’s developed specifically to fit any screen, especially small screens. It’s also free, developed by teams of volunteers led by researchers at TU Graz.

Pocket Code: Pocket code works on most mobile devices ,regardless of screen size or OS (some older androids/iOs may be left out). It’s interface was specifically developed for mobile; makes regular use a somewhat clunky experience (always changing screens to access options, blocks, etc.). Adapts the blocks-based interface pioneered by Scratch and recognizes the phone’s sensors  - that means that coding projects can take advantage of mobile-specific technologies like gyroscope, compass, touchscreen, accelerometer, camera, and many others. It’s quite powerful, yet simple to use. The project als has a community component, projects can be shared online, downloaded and remixed. Unlike Scratch, the web version does not run any code, but it shows you the algorithm’s blocks. To be run, Pocket Code projects must always be downloaded to a mobile device.

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