Blocks and Beyond Workshop

The Blocks and Beyond Workshop will be held in Atlanta in October, co-located with the VL/HCC conference. The workshop aims to look at research surrounding blocks programming (Scratch, Snap, etc), its effectiveness, and future developments improving or building on block based programming. The deadline, for 1-3 page position papers or <= 6 page short papers, is now two weeks away: Friday 24th July.

Here’s the overview of the workshop from the official site:

Blocks programming environments represent program syntax trees as compositions of visual blocks. This family of tools includes Scratch, Blockly, Code.org’s lessons, App Inventor, Snap!, Pencil Code, Alice/Looking Glass, AgentSheets/AgentCubes, etc. They have introduced programming and computational thinking to tens of millions, reaching people of all ages and backgrounds.

Despite their popularity, there has been remarkably little research on the usability, effectiveness, or generalizability of affordances from these environments. The goal of this workshop is to begin to distill testable hypotheses from the existing folk knowledge of blocks-based programming environments and identify research questions and partnerships that can legitimize, or discount, pieces of this knowledge. The workshop will bring together educators and researchers with experience in blocks languages, as well as members of the broader VL/HCC community who wish to examine this area more deeply. We seek participants with diverse expertise, including, but not limited to: design of programming environments, instruction with these environments, the learning sciences, data analytics, usability, and more.

I will be attending, and hope to see some interesting submissions and discussion around block-based programming and future derivatives. (I’m also on the program committee.) Submission details are on the site.

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