At ITiCSE 2009 and again at SIGCSE 2010, we had panel session: Comparing Alice, Greenfoot and Scratch. The session came about because all three development teams – the Scratch, Alice and Greenfoot teams – were regularly asked one question: What’s the difference?
All three systems aim to let young people learn about programming. Many teachers (as well as parents or kids) have heard of more than one of them, but deciding which one to use can be difficult. While there are clear differences, the time it takes to evaluate all three of them is not trivial.
The panel session turned out to be very popular. The room was packed full, and we got plenty of questions afterwards. So we decided to create a written version of this session. And it’s now available.
We wrote a set of papers, which have now been published in a special issue of the ACM Transactions of Computing Education (TOCE). Each paper was written by a key member of the design team of one of the environments. The papers are more extensive and more in depth than the panel was (we all took the chance to write about various aspects our systems, which we had intended for some time, but never got around to doing), but they also aim to record some of the discussion that we had at the time.
The TOCE special issue consists of an introduction, three papers (one each) about the three environments, and a discussion section at the end. They are
- Machines for Thinking
— Sally Fincher, Ian Utting
- The Greenfoot Programming Environment
— Michael Kölling
- The Design of Alice
— Stephen Cooper
- The Scratch Programming Language and Environment
— John Maloney, Mitchel Resnick, Natalie Rusk, Brian Silverman,Evelyn Eastmond
- Alice, Greenfoot, and Scratch — A Discussion
— Ian Utting, Stephen Cooper, Michael Kölling, John Maloney, Mitchel Resnick
(NOTE: All papers are available in the ACM digital library. ACM allows authors to also publish the papers on their own web sites. I will link to those freely available copies when they have been made available by the authors. So check back in a little while if you could not get all you were interested in.)