With this week’s Hour of Code very much in my mind, an article in my Flipboard technology magazine this weekend immediately caught my attention. TechCrunch described a new site called, “Bitsbox” that helps children to learn how to write code.
The site is one of the featured lessons in this year’s Hour of Code list of activities. I took a little time last night to check out how Bitsbox might differ from other programming apps and games.
The interface of Bitsbox is very simple, and simulates a tablet for which you are designing apps. (Bitsbox is browser-based, however – not an app.) According to Scott Lininger, one of the company’s co-founders, he wanted to get away from some of the popular block-programming languages that are popular with children. Although those (such as Scratch, Blockly, and Tynker) have value, Lininger was interested in showing children how to actually type code, not just drag and drop.
Bitsbox does teach simple text commands (so your child will need to be a good reader to work on it independently). However, if you are lazy like me, you may find yourself doing a lot of copying and pasting. I’m not sure if that’s quite as informative as typing the text myself, but I’m not the only one who figures out that shortcut pretty quickly.
Bitsbox is free, and even provides a very helpful Teacher’s Guide. Here is the link to their Hour of Code site. Bitsbox is about to launch a Kickstarter campaign for a subscription program that will include a box delivered to your door each month with new programs to try out. You can visit their website for more information.