Friday, January 13, 2017 just got even cooler, coding!

I've been a pretty big fan of ever since I found it back in September this year.  It fills a hole in the market for educational VR in K-12.  You can read a few of my initial thoughts on their app in this earlier blog post.  Now that I've had even more time to play with it and see kids using it in the classroom, I can continue to reiterate that I think Cospaces, a small company based out of Germany, is really onto something.

One thing that I've noticed in the increasingly fast-paced field of educational technology is that the need to innovate and push new things often times overlooks the educational value being offered by the tools.  This mentality is in direct opposition to what most teachers value in their craft and it can be easy to be caught up in all the flash without finding the substance.

What is Cospaces answer to this quandary?  Coding.  

A little while back their website quietly added the ability to code in javascript and more recently, they have introduced blockly programming!  I have to say that I'm amazed at how well they are rounding out their experience for a huge variety of learners.  At this point, the simple VR creation process can be experienced all the way from Kindergarten up through High School.  Actually, one of my own children just completed a project for her 1st grade class and used Cospaces to spice it up.

So why is blockly so cool?  

For a few years now, blockly has been a standard for teaching children the concepts of computer science.  One of the first and best examples I can think of that has really unlocked the potential of block coding and its role in teaching kids is Scratch.  CoSpaces choice to add blockly puts them well on their way to bringing the same open-ended constructivist approach to learning coding into the new medium of VR.  This is exciting stuff.  Watch a quick demo by CoSpaces of a few of the possibilities opened with coding for simple VR experiences.

Ok, enough of my ramblings, you really need to try this out.  Or better yet, have your students try this out.  No need to twist their arms, simply introduce them to the website, tell them what you want them to accomplish, and be amazed as they start to figure it out.  I've been playing around with the block programming for a few days now and it is extremely compelling.  I'm especially intrigued in how kids can use it to tell stories and even add game elements to their presentations.  Here's a little proof of concept I've been working with in order to familiarize myself a little bit.

While there isn't yet a huge variety of blocks to play with, you can definitely get started and writing your own variables allows you to branch out even more.  Blockly in is awesome and I look forward to seeing all the features that get added down the road.  Keep up the good work guys.