Scratch programming language


After reading an article written by the creators of the Scratch graphical programming language, where they describe their motivation behind creating a programming environment for children, I am curious to research how the students understand the definition of ‘digital literacy’. The article explains that the activities we commonly associate with digital literacy are really only one side of the digital scope. Of course students can communicate using a plethora of tools, social networks, emails, texting and so on, they are probably adequately trained in the art of using office-publishing suites and browsing the Internet, but the authors champion designing and creating as a massive part of being a ‘digital literate’. Here arises the printing press argument, when the first printing presses took the world by storm, they were supposed to free up information for the masses but instead, literature was read by the people in power to the uneducated masses. Media theorists such as Doug Rushkoff have drawn comparisons between the print and the digital revolutions, only now the people in power are those who are able to bend digital technologies at their will and the uneducated masses are those who know only how to use technology given to them.

The creators of Scratch go on to talk about lowering the ‘floor’ or complexity of programming for beginners and widening the scope of what a beginner can achieve using the scratch environment. Within my questionnaire I would like a section that tries to gauge students understanding of digital literacy and also measure their perceived understanding of the ‘floor’ in terms of learning to code. Both areas of curiosity pose difficulties in terms of the best way to articulate the questions in a way that produce answers that are useful to my research. For instance, the question: what does digital literacy mean? Could generate such diverse answers that it would be impossible to draw useful conclusions but instead if I offer the participant a multiple choice style set of answers I will have already prompted a response.

In the section below I have experimented with formulating some question that try to best articulate these topics in a way that does not influence the participants answers (some are more successful than others).

Tick the boxes of skills that you consider to be beyond what could be considered ‘digital literacy’ and move into advanced technology use:

❑ Writing emails        ❑ Sending text messages       ❑ Blogging        ❑ Creating a web page       ❑ Designing but not coding a mobile app

❑ Coding but not designing a mobile app      ❑ writing computer software       ❑ Photo editing       ❑Video Editing        ❑ participating in social networks

❑ using a digital camera     ❑Moving files from a USB stick

Put these activities in order of difficulty

Editing video, writing an email, develop a web site,  adding a friend on Facebook and coding an app  (1 is the easiest and 5 is the hardest)







Coding a website is much easier than designing it

strongly disagree <—–> strongly agree