Projects

since 2015

The Free Open Source Software (FOSS) non-profit project Catrobat ( www.catrobat.org)  was initiated 2010 in Austria at TU Graz. The  multidisciplinary team develops free educational apps for teenagers and programming novices. The aim is to introduce young people to the world of coding. With a playful approach, young people of all genders can be engaged and game development can be promoted with a focus on design and creativity. Catrobat is the official name of the project’s visual programming language as well. The project follows an  interdisciplinary approach through worldwide collaborators. More than 500 participants, most of them students of TU Graz, participated in this project. A first public version of our free app published in 2014, with 46 releases of the main coding app as of April 2018. Our app currently has more than 700,000 users in 180 countries, is natively available in 40+ languages (including several languages not directly supported by the underlying operating system), and has been developed so far by almost 1,000 volunteers from around the world.

One of the apps of Catrobat is Pocket Code, a visual programming language environment that allows the creation of games, stories, animations, and many types of other apps directly on smartphones or
tablets, thereby teaching fundamental programming skills. This app consists of a visual Integrated Development Environment (IDE) and a programming language interpreter for the visual Catrobat Programming language. The IDE automatically translates the underlying code parsed by the XML file into visual brick elements and vice versa. With the use of simple graphic blocks, users can create
their own game, colorful animations, or extensive stories directly on the mobile phone without prior knowledge. Visual and block based coding language helps novices with an easy to use interface and predefined Lego® style bricks

An evaluation of the attractiveness of Pocket Code shows that students were motivated by its ease of use and its appealing design; however, girls rated the app less enthusiastically. To appeal to female teenagers in particular, a tailored version of the app “Luna&Cat” has been developed. This customised version stands in contrast to the “one size fits all” solution Pocket Code, which may discourage certain user groups. For apps to have a higher chance to appeal to a specific target group, it is, among many other points, necessary to optimise their store listing on app stores, especially as we found that app stores are the most effective way to reach teenagers. For the new version, a focus group discussion was performed. This discussion first brought insights about our target group and suggested names and designs for the new app; and second, allowed each student to make proposals for their desired games. This is important because most girls have the feeling that the games they play are not created for them. With this customised app, our aim is to reach and build a user base of interested female teenagers who want to learn how to code.

The app will be released in early March 2019.

fundet by NetIdee
January 2018 – Feburary 2019
 
RemoteMentor in Pocket Code should provide female beginners with real-time mentoring from advanced users in our community. A matchmaking system, modules for mentors and a bidirectional screen-sharing option, will support this process. Mentee and mentor can find each other online and the mentee will provide access to the code/Pocket Code. Via voice or chat channel with established systems additional support is provided. The mentors are first students of the TU Graz and later experienced users of the Catrobat community, who help female users especially in their first coding steps. Furthermore, it will be examined whether the gender of the mentors has an influence on the satisfaction and progress of the girls (to see positive influence of female role models). Therefore, we have partnered with sociology scientists from the University of Graz focusing on gender aspects for the research part. This team will focus on group discussions and interviews with female students.
 
@Akademisches Gymnasium
 

Zusammenarbeit mit dem Institut für Software-Technologie

@GIBS

Programming is Fun

FEMtech (FFG)
Sep. 2018 – Aug. 2020

To make the app more interesting and attractive for our target group of young women between 12 and 15 years old, we are planning to extend the app with the option to program embroidery machines. In this way, self-created patterns and designs can be stitched on t-shirts, pants or even bags. Thus, with Pocket Code, the embroidery machines will be programmable. Patterns and different forms can be created using Pocket Codes’ visual programming language. As a result, teenagers have something they can be proud of, something they can wear, and that they can show to others.

The project will be realized together with “bits4kids” and the fashion shop “Apflbutzn”.

Stitched patterns in Pocket Code. Picture in the right with kind of permissions from Andrea Mayr-Stadler, www.TurtleStitch.org project.

2015 - 2017

January 2015 – June 2017 The European No One Left Behind (NOLB: http://no1leftbehind.eu/) project has been funded by the Horizon 2020 framework and involved partners from Germany, Spain, the UK, and Austria. The vision of the NOLB project was to unlock inclusive gaming creation and to construct experiences in formal and informal learning situations from primary to secondary level, particularly for children at risk of social exclusion. The focus laid on those teenagers with special educational needs and disabilities (in UK) as well as immigrants (in Spain); the project was also used as a chance to recognize gender differences in engaging with coding activities and game jams (in Austria). The project aimed to develop a new generation of Pocket Code, which should be a more mobile media-rich programming environment for teenagers, by providing meaningful learning experiences and supporting learners to realize their full potential. This was done by transferring game mechanics, dynamics, assets, and in-game analytics from non-leisure digital games into the app and by evaluating the coding lesson.

The Create@School app is a more tailored version of Pocket Code for academic purpose, with predefined templates for students to start with an almost finished game and accessibility settings have been added for students with special needs. Create@School is also linked to other services such as behavioral tracking to collect events during coding, as well as the Project Management Dashboard (PMD) for project submission and assessment by teachers. Create@School is still a beta version. As a teacher please request for accounts (within the app).