IT Talenteschmiede (en. “talent forge”)
funded by Styrian Government/Austria
Purpose: To increase the number of IT professionals/students with new teaching concepts, workshops, open learning spaces, evaluation of activities.
Consortium: TU Graz, University of Applied Science Graz, University of Graz.
Description: Analyse/evaluate Pocket Code and other existing visual coding tools. Create teaching concepts and material for workshops. Evaluate tools and concepts during Girls Coding week, Maker Days, robotic courses, and other CS related courses.
All activities SDC-Styria: https://www.sdc-styria.at/en
An evaluation of the attractiveness of Pocket Code showed 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 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 hosted. 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.
To make the app more appealing to our target group of girls between 12 and 15 years old, we are planning to extend the app with the option to program embroidery machines. In this way, self-made 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 Free Open Source Software (FOSS) non-proﬁt project Catrobat ( www.catrobat.org) was initiated in 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.
2015 - 2017
The Create@School app is a more tailored version of Pocket Code for academic purposes, 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. For teachers please conduct email@example.com.