A. Misirli, D. Nikolos, V. Komis

University of Patras (GREECE)
A great deal of Computational Thinking is operationalised through computer programming - code literacy (Jacob & Warschauer, 2018). Literacy originally refers to the teaching and learning of reading and writing thus in terms of coding, literacy skills refer to programming languages. In the present study we present an organised digital environment for skills such as: algorithmic design, decomposition, abstraction and model representation (Wing, 2006) that children in preschool and first grades of primary age need to develop in terms of Computational Thinking (CT).

The present study is part of a national, undergoing, funded research project titled: 'Robotics and programming languages: how to develop Computational Thinking in Preschool and Primary Education'. We used different robotics devices and programming languages such as Logo, ScratchJr and Scratch depending in the age group and knowledge of students. A scenario-based teaching approach is adopted (Komis, Romero & Misirli, 2017; Misirli & Komis 2014) tracing children's ideas (pre-post tests) for robotics and programming with robust scheduled activities either teacher or child-led initiated: a) Preparatory activities, b) Activities for the initial knowledge construction, c) Activities for the knowledge construction consolidation, d) Evaluation activities and e) Metacognitive activities, can be embedded through the prior knowledge construction activities or can be carried on in a separate way.

The digital environment is organised to support the evaluation activities. We transferred knowledge from different programming languages to evaluate students' CT skills when programming in that environment. We applied the above-mentioned basic rationale in seven (07) environments supporting different programming concepts and educational scenarios. The game was designed as a 2-D space with a roaming character. The commands that the user can use to program the character are following the Logo-like environment, forward, backward, left, and right.
Each environment is separated in three 'areas':
i) editing area (mats,characters, function and control),
ii) algorithmic area (algorithmic design, decomposition and abstraction) and
iii) scenario-based area (problem-solving, model representation of a character fulfilling students’ ideas in different scenarios).
The technical requirements specifications of the games include support of both computer and mobile (touch) devices and scaling in various screen sizes. In order to meet these requirements, the game was developed in HTML5 using HTML,CSS and Javascript, and runs on any modern browser.