SCRATCH: A TOOL FOR LEARNING AND TEACHING

E. Romero , J.S. Artal-Sevil

University of Zaragoza (SPAIN)
DIY is an acronym that means "do it yourself." For decades, the philosophy behind it has led millions of people around the world to do things they were initially unfamiliar with or not experts in. Self-realization, positive mentality, psychological well-being are concepts related to this philosophy if it is well oriented and carried out. In the field of education, it connects with definitions such as self-learning, personal development, acquisition of skills, and teamwork (in the case of collaboration between several students). The DIY philosophy can be used in programming, one of the disciplines that educational programs are increasingly promoted in most countries from an early age. Technological advances, the widespread digitalization of society make programming a future profession for millions of students around the world.

Scratch is a high-level visual programming language developed in an audiovisual media laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). One of the differences with many previous programming languages is that it is fundamentally visual. For this reason, it has been used at an early age, from 8-years old, as a visual way of learning to program. The first version of Scratch appeared in 2003 and version 2.0 was published ten years later. The version 3 is the most recent.

Among computer experts, the word 'scratch' means to reuse code. This is a base of the tool. The codes are accessible if the authors indicate so (public projects). Therefore, any user can download and modify any of them to their liking. The original authors are also recognized. In this way, one of the most important characteristics of Scratch is that the codes can be combined, shared and adapted to new scenarios. The tool became widespread among programming educators as an introductory language, due to its ease in developing programs and because the skills acquired through its use allow its application to other basic programming languages such as Java or Python. In Great Britain its expansion was carried out mainly through the so-called 'Code Clubs', an initiative created by teachers and volunteers. In them, children between 9- and 13-years old build and share their ideas and projects outside of school. Children create their own video games, animations and even websites, while learning to use technology in creative and entertaining ways.

Its possibilities in the classroom are very interesting. On the one hand, for students. In addition to their introduction to programming, the youngest (8-years old) can become familiar with gamification, visual skills, and creativity in general. On the other hand, for teachers. They can create projects as didactic teaching tools, such as animated stories, small video games, highly visual concept lessons, contests, and tutorials.

There are tutorials to get started in Scratch, as the initiation guide created by MIT. There are projects oriented to geometry, mathematics in general, biology, physics, social sciences and any other teaching discipline.

The present work aims to give a complete vision of the possibilities that Scratch offers to the world of education, evaluating its use from an early age to even the university level.