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Empowering kids to create and share programmable media

Empowering kids to create and share programmable media

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Published by andresmh
There are now many websites, such as Flickr and YouTube and blogs, that support user-generated content, enabling people to create and share text, graphics, photos, and videos. But, for the most part, Web 2.0 does not include interactive content. People interact with web-based animations and games all of the time, but few people can create and share their own interactive content.

The Scratch project from the MIT Media Lab aims to change that, making it easy for everyone, especially children and teens, to create and share interactive stories, games, and animations on the web, in the participatory spirit of Web 2.0. With the Scratch programming environment, users snap together graphical programming blocks (see figure) to control the actions and interactions of rich media content, including photos, graphics, music and sound. Then they upload their interactive creations to the shared Scratch website, where other members of the Scratch community can interact with the projects on the site and download the original source code to examine or modify the project..
There are now many websites, such as Flickr and YouTube and blogs, that support user-generated content, enabling people to create and share text, graphics, photos, and videos. But, for the most part, Web 2.0 does not include interactive content. People interact with web-based animations and games all of the time, but few people can create and share their own interactive content.

The Scratch project from the MIT Media Lab aims to change that, making it easy for everyone, especially children and teens, to create and share interactive stories, games, and animations on the web, in the participatory spirit of Web 2.0. With the Scratch programming environment, users snap together graphical programming blocks (see figure) to control the actions and interactions of rich media content, including photos, graphics, music and sound. Then they upload their interactive creations to the shared Scratch website, where other members of the Scratch community can interact with the projects on the site and download the original source code to examine or modify the project..

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Published by: andresmh on Sep 18, 2008
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There are now many websites,such as Flickr and YouTubeand blogs, which support user-generated content, enablingpeople to create and share text,graphics, photos, and videos. Butfor the most part, Web 2.0 doesnot include interactive content.People interact with Web-basedanimations and games all thetime, but few people can createand share their own interactivecontent.The Scratch project [1] fromMIT Media Lab aims to changethat, making it easy for every-one, especially children andteens, to create and shareinteractive stories, games, andanimations on the Web, in theparticipatory spirit of Web 2.0.With the Scratch programmingenvironment [2], users snaptogether graphical programmingblocks to control the actions andinteractions of rich media con-tent, including photos, graphics,music, and sound. Then theyupload their interactive creationsto the shared Scratch website,where other members of theScratch community can interactwith the projects on the site anddownload the original sourcecode to examine or modify theproject [3].The Scratch website offers analternate model for how children
Empowering Kids to Create andShare Programmable Media
Andrés Monroy-Hernández
MIT Media Lab | andresmh@media.mit.edu
Mitchel Resnick
MIT Media Lab | mres@media.mit.edu
might use the Web as a platformfor learning, enabling them tocreate and share personallymeaningful projects, not simplyaccess information. Children cre-ate and share Scratch projectsas a way to express themselvescreatively, much as they wouldpaint a picture or build a castlewith LEGO bricks. In the processthey not only learn importantmath and computer scienceconcepts, but they also developimportant learning skills: cre-ative thinking, effective com-munication, critical analysis,systematic experimentation,iterative design, and continuallearning. We believe that theability to produce (not simplyinteract with) interactive contentis a key ingredient to achievingdigital literacy and becoming afull participant in the interactiveonline world.
Leaning Toug OnlineCommunity 
The Scratch Online Communitymakes programming moreengaging by turning it into asocial activity. Hobbit, a 14-year-old member of the communityexplains: “When I think about it,recognition for my work is whatreally drew me into Scratch.Other things played a part, butthe feeling that my work wouldbe seen is what really motivatedme.” The website provides a widerange of entry points for com-munity interactions. Childrencomment on projects, uploadtheir own projects, and canbecome involved in existing proj-ects. The site is also a repositoryof user-generated content thatserves as a source of inspira-tion and appropriable objectsfor new ideas. Users can con-nect with each other, forming asocial network of creators andcollaborators through the use of “friendships,” galleries (groupsof projects based on a topic), andforums where users can posttheir questions or interests to bediscussed with others.Inspired by Jenkins’s descrip-tion of the states of participationin fan-fiction communities [4],we put forward the idea thatmembers of user-generated-con-tent communities tend to movein four different roles or states of participation: passive consump-tion, active consumption, passiveproduction, and active produc-tion. In order to build a success-ful community, it is essential forthe sites in question to supportand welcome users regardless of which state of participation theyfall into. For example, Lave andWenger argue that “peripheralparticipation” is a legitimate
[1] Resnick, M., “Sowingthe Seeds for a MoreCreative Society.”
Learning & Leadingwith Technology
,International Societyfor Technology inEducation (ISTE),December 2007.[2] Resnick, M., Y.Kafai, J. Maeda, J.Maloney, and N. Rusk,“A Networked, Media-Rich ProgrammingEnvironment to EnhanceTechnological Fluencyat After-School Centersin EconomicallyDisadvantagedCommunities.Proposal[funded] to the NationalScience Foundation,Washington, DC: 2003.[3] Monroy-Hernández, A., “ScratchR: Sharinguser-generated pro-grammable media.”Proceedings of the 6thInternational Conferenceon Interaction Designand Children, Aalborg,Denmark, 2007.[4] Jenkins, Henry,
Convergence Culture
.New York: NYU Press,2006.[5] Lave, J. andWenger, E.,
SituatedLearning: LegitimatePeripheral Participation
,Cambridge: CambridgeUniversity Press, 1991.
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form of engagement [5]. Theseroles/states are the core of mostuser-generated-content sites, andthe Scratch community address-es them in a relevant way forthe specific audience and type of content.
• Passive consumer.
Onlinecommunities often refer to thesepeople as lurkers. In this state,people assess the communityto understand their values andideas. In the case of Scratch, thisinvolves the act of browsing thedifferent categories and interact-ing with Scratch projects thatother people have created. Whilethis is the most passive state,the passive consumer altersthe system simply by viewingbecause the number of views iscounted and presented publicly.
• Active consumer.
An activeconsumer participates in thecommunity by providing meta-data. Active Scratch consumerscontribute their ideas by com-menting, tagging, and ratingprojects.
• Passive producer.
In thisstate, users create projects,sometimes inspired by otherprojects they have seen in thecommunity, but do not neces-sarily feel compelled or ready toshare them to the community.
• Active producer.
An activeproducer not only consumes butalso contributes to the reposi-tory of projects. This persongives feedback to other people’sprojects, gets inspired, and alsoprovides inspiration. An analy-sis of the usage of the websiteshowed that the number of proj-ects a user creates is correlatedwith the level of activity by thatuser on projects created by oth-ers. That is, there is a correlationbetween the number of projectsa user creates and the num-ber of a) comments posted onother people’s projects, b) viewson others’ projects, c) projectsmarked as favorites, d) projectsmarked as “I love it!,” and e) proj-ects downloaded. Smaller cor-relations were found in regard totags. Other people often recog-nize these active producers’ levelof involvement. Members in thisstate feel invested in the com-munity—it is one of the mostimportant assets of the Scratchonline community.
Saing and Collaboation
We use the term “creativeappropriation” to refer to theutilization of someone else’screative work in the making of anew one. Professional program-mers are very familiar with thisconcept, as a great deal of theirwork is based on programs andalgorithms created by others.With Scratch, we wanted tointroduce children and teens tothis approach, because learningin the context of a community isnot only more convenient, but isalso more rewarding and engag-ing.One of the main goals of theScratch online community is tofoster the idea of learning fromeach other by building on otherpeople’s ideas or projects. Thisis one of the reasons why it isalways possible for a memberof the community to downloadthe source code of any project.Additionally, users of the com-munity often create their proj-ects after being inspired by otherprojects they see. In this type of creative appropriation, no codeor media is reused; instead, it isthe idea or concept that is appro-priated to create a new project.This type of appropriation oftenleads to the emergence of trends
 
The Scratch website highlights projects contributedby the user community.
 
People can interact with projects displayed on theScratch website.
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FEATURE
 
 
Scratch users build on one another's projectsthrough “creative appropriation.”
 
Scratch users contribute to (and learn from)the online community in many ways.
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TAGS, COMMENTS, GROUPS, RACES
Permission to make digitalor hard copies of all or partof this work for personal orclassroom use is grantedwithout the fee, providedthat copies are not madeor distributed for profit orcommercial advantage,and that copies bear thisnotice and the full citationon the first page. To copyotherwise, to republish,to post on services or toredistribute to lists, requiresprior specific permissionand/or a fee. © ACM1072-5220/08/0300 $5.00
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INSPIRATIONFEEDBACK  AUDIENCE
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in the community. One of thesetrends was started by an interac-tive “dress up” project created byan 11-year-old girl from SouthAfrica. The project was a digitalversion of a traditional paperdoll: The viewer could choose theskin color, hair, and clothing of the doll. Projects tagged as “dressup” are so popular that theyoften go to the “Top Viewed” sec-tion of the front page with hun-dreds if not thousands of views.To date, there are more than 150projects tagged as “dress up.”Ranging from a project aboutdressing up a hero to dressing upa famous TV star and originalcharacters, “dress up” projectsare as diverse as their creators.The Scratch website serves asa repository of code and ideasthat can be creatively appropri-ated to spawn new ideas andnew projects. The Scratch web-site and the Scratch desktopenvironment make it very easyfor this to happen. Fifteen per-cent of all of the 23,394 projectsshared (as of August 14, 2007)were remixes of other projects.Of those, the types of changesmade ranged from simplechanges to images and sounds,to modifications of the actualprogramming code.Every time a project getsshared on the Scratch website,the Scratch desktop applicationadds information about whoshared the project and when.This information is used toautomatically connect projectsthat are based on others. Whena project is a remix of another,it displays a link to the origi-nal project, giving credit to thecreator whose work has beenremixed. Several members of the community have postedmessages in the online forumsexpressing their concern aboutothers “copying” their work. Thiscontroversy has provided anopportunity to discuss importantideas and differences betweenplagiarism and sharing.
Mes Inc.
One of the early and ongoing col-laborative efforts on the Scratchonline community started whena 15-year-old girl from the U.K.,screen name BeeBop, created aseries of projects with animatedsprites and encouraged othersto use them in their projects.“You can take any of these to usein your own project, or you canpost a comment saying what youwant and I can make it for you,”BeeBop explained. The sameday, a 10-year-old girl, using thename MusicalMoon, wrote acomment saying that she likedBeeBop’s animations and askingif BeeBop could create a projectwith “a mountain backgroundfrom a bird’s-eye view” for usein one of her own projects.MusicalMoon also asked BeeBopto submit the project to MeshInc., a “miniature company” thatMusicalMoon had created toproduce “top quality games” inScratch. MusicalMoon explainedthat “all you do is simply sendin a project, I will review it backin the Mesh gallery, and, then,if it’s good enough, I will grantyou a member of Mesh_Inc.!”MusicalMoon and BeeBop contin-ued their exchanges and createdan initial version of a collabora-tive project.A few days later, Hobbit, the14-year-old boy from New Jersey,discovered the Mesh Inc. galleryand offered his services: “I’m afairly good programmer, and Icould help with de-bugging andstuff.” MusicalMoon asked Hobbit
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Design: What It Is, and How To Teach and Learn It

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