Sign In

Communications of the ACM

Review articles

Learnable Programming: Blocks and Beyond


Learnable Programming: Blocks and Beyond, illustration

A global push to broaden participation in computer science has led to an explosion of interest in blocks-based programming. Visual blocks are used by numerous programming tools (see the sidebar). Millions of students receive their first exposure to programming via these tools in courses and activities like Code.org's Hour of Code. Blocks allow beginners to compose programs without struggling with the frustrations of syntax (Figure 1).

Back to Top

Key Insights

ins01.gif

There is increasing interest in developing and studying blocks languages. At VL/HCC 2015, a small workshop session called Blocks and Beyonda ballooned to a large event, with 51 submissions and 36 presenters. Researchers shared work in new blocks languages, interface innovations, domain-specific applications of blocks, and ways to make blocks languages more effective and accessible for diverse coders.


Comments


Richard Ladner

Congratulation on this nice article extolling the learnability of block-based programming for young people. As noted in the article, visually oriented programming has made some of the basics of programming accessible to millions of young people. Unfortunately, the authors failed to mention any limitations of this approach for some young people who are blind or have mobility related disabilities. Block-based programming systems are generally not accessible to screen reader users and people with dexterity problems cannot easily use direct manipulation like drag and drop. The primary output of these systems are mostly visual animations of some sort. I don't have a problem with articles that promote a technology, as long as they discuss its limitations. This one misses a "limitations section."


Displaying 1 comment

Log in to Read the Full Article

Sign In

Sign in using your ACM Web Account username and password to access premium content if you are an ACM member, Communications subscriber or Digital Library subscriber.

Need Access?

Please select one of the options below for access to premium content and features.

Create a Web Account

If you are already an ACM member, Communications subscriber, or Digital Library subscriber, please set up a web account to access premium content on this site.

Join the ACM

Become a member to take full advantage of ACM's outstanding computing information resources, networking opportunities, and other benefits.
  

Subscribe to Communications of the ACM Magazine

Get full access to 50+ years of CACM content and receive the print version of the magazine monthly.

Purchase the Article

Non-members can purchase this article or a copy of the magazine in which it appears.
Sign In for Full Access
» Forgot Password? » Create an ACM Web Account
ACM Resources