Children's programming, reconsidered: settings, stuff, and surfaces
The subject of children's programming has long been a vexed and controversial one in the field of educational technology. Debates in this area have typically focused on issues such as how to create a child-friendly programming language; or whether children can learn particular topics (e.g., recursion) in programming; or indeed, whether it is worthwhile for children to encounter programming at all. For the most part, these debates have taken place against an implicit background of assumptions about what children's programming looks like-namely, an activity focused on creating effects on a desktop screen or, occasionally, robotic toy. This paper argues that the cultural and anthropological contexts of children's programming are now poised to change: that new programming materials, physical settings, and unorthodox display surfaces are likely to shift the nature of the children's-programming debate in profound ways, and to make programming a far more informal, approachable, and natural activity than heretofore. We illustrate this argument with projects underway in our own research.
Published in 2009.