Roundtable Meeting "Programming in Scratch"
On January 5, 2016, the Hi-Tech Park organized a roundtable meeting "Programming in Scratch" to bring together representatives of the Belarus’ education system, HTP Administration, and HTP resident companies.
The participants discussed the development of courses in programming in Scratch to be recommended for school students in Belarus.
Teachers participating in the meeting shared their experience of teaching Computer Science. Their ideas may be summed up as follows:
- the educational program in Computer Science for compulsory schools is outdated;
- the academic subject "Informatics" does not provide deep knowledge and skills necessary today but only allows to get some general information;
- school students are unlikely to get interested in Computer Science within the scope of the existing educational program;
- the existing courses last only a few months with a significant gap before the next course which makes it difficult for children to keep the knowledge;
- the educational program does not provide for the development of a strong IT industry in Belarus.
Special attention was given to discussing new approaches to teaching Computer Science and Programming which would enable to encourage students' interest, develop their logical thinking and problem-solving skills. Educators with 1-5-year experience of working with Scratch agreed that it is an effective tool to help students learn to think algorithmically and inspire them to continue to study programming. Besides, Scratch has the following advantages:
- it is a visual programming language;
- it is intuitively comprehensible;
- it can be easily applied to implement children's ideas, thus becoming really interesting to students;
- it is has a thoroughly worked out, high quality environment;
- interface language can be changed to one of over 70 languages, including Russian;
- Scratch is also a vibrant online community where users share their projects and ideas;
- it encourages cooperation: while creating and programming projects in Scratch, children learn to work collaboratively, think creatively and critically;
- Scratch is free; you do not need a license to use it at school or at home.
Representatives of HTP resident companies expressed willingness to contribute to the development of educational programs for elective courses in programming in Scratch and share graphic, audio- and video files useful for educational purposes.