Learning to code can be quite intimidating, especially for children, but visual tools can keep them engaged and learning.
It’s for this reason that MIT Media Lab created and released Scratch back in 2006. It doesn’t require any lines of code to be written, and can be used by children as young as 8. It’s been 7 years since the original Scratch version 1.4 got released, though, and with how the Internet has progressed during that time, Scratch was starting to look a little limited. MIT realised this, and got to work on Scratch 2.0.
Scratch 2.0 is now available to use, and it brings with it many improvements. The biggest of those has to be the shift from a downloadable piece of software to a browser-based interface. By making that transition, MIT has opened Scratch up to an even wider audience, including Chromebook users. It also means there’s only one version to maintain, and saved projects happen automatically in the cloud without the need to save locally and then upload.
Scratch 2.0 has added a lot of new functionality. The paint editor now uses vector graphics meaning they scale without losing detail. There’s a Backpack feature that allows you to move your graphical files between projects, webcam interaction is now a standard feature, and you can create your very own Scratch blocks, meaning you can setup some predefined behaviour and wrap it up in a block to use anywhere.
Sharing your projects has always been a key feature of Scratch, and that’s been enhanced in version 2.0. Users can choose to share their projects, and when they do, you can take a look at how they are put together, save them to work on yourself (Remix), and follow people who create projects you like or are interested in. There’s also the chance to show off what you’ve created in the Scratch galleries, which have been renamed Studios.
MIT hasn’t finished working on Scratch 2.0, though. A downloadable version is in the works for anyone who doesn’t have a reliable connection. We can also look forward to seeing interactions with Lego WeDo and ScratchBoard being added in the near future.
The good news is that those of you who have cut your teeth using the original version won’t find the transition to version 2.0 too troublesome.