Researchers in Massachusetts have created a basic computer coding app that they say is the first designed specifically for children as young as 5. Kids who haven’t yet learned to read can use the app to craft their own interactive stories and games.
Coding before reading. Yep, you just read that.
With ScratchJr, children can snap together graphical programming blocks to make characters and other elements in their project move, jump, talk and change size. Users can modify various elements in the paint editor, add their own voices and sounds, and even insert their own photos.
What the?! In my day you didn’t learn how to “code” until the 5th grade. And by coding, I mean we were taught how to create a 40×40 pixel graphic image using Apple Basic. There was no animation, photos, or story telling. The closet we got to “interactive storytelling” was this crap, and it required knowing a lot about PEEKs, POKEs, and GOSUBs. Which you didn’t learn until you where in the 6th grade.
Okay, so kids aren’t walking away from 30 minutes of using ScratchJr with the ability to knock out HTML or Objective C or Swift. After looking through the website this app looks like the cross between a coloring book and Flash 1.0. But, hang on, don’t get me wrong, this is amazing. And I can’t wait to watch my nieces (side note: yep, that’s right, the #storeystyle line ends when I’m gone, get it while it lasts folks) tear this up.
For a while now I’ve had this assumption that soon, people will knock out websites using nothing but a tablet. And, oh look, it just so happens that that makes this possible. Well timed Cabel, well timed.
So now we live in a world where children, unable to read, are able to create robust content for the web. And people a bit older than 5 are able to interact–edit/add files–with web servers using nothing more than a tablet. If you are in the business of making websites, you need to pay attention to these developments because they are going to very likely going to have an impact on your career path.
People, we are living in science fiction times right now. Next year, it will all start to feel like a family sitcom.