This was originally written up by the Small Basic creator, Vijay Raji…
“Both Scratch and Alice are great tools that help beginners learn the concepts of programming. They are doing so by enabling people to write “codeless” programs. Small Basic is taking a different approach by introducing code as a first-class concept.”
Another great Codeless Programming Language/IDE is Microsoft’s Kodu!
Kodu lets kids create games on the PC and Xbox via a simple visual programming language. It can be used to teach creativity, problem solving, and storytelling! One way to think of Kodu is that kids (starting at age 4), see it as playing a 3D videogame. So would you rather have kids learn to make games or play them? To them, it’s the same kind of fun!
My four-year old daughter loves it (along with my 6 and 7 year old daughters)! When we say that 4-year-olds love to learn Kodu and 8-year-olds love to learn Small Basic, we’re not talking about exceptions (like in Java or Python). Those are the standards! See Small Basic Student Testimonies.
So if you’re going to teach a codeless programming language to a kid, you should ask yourself, Why? Is it because you think a programming language that focuses on coding is too challenging? Well, there’s some truth to that. But Small Basic works hard to make it Simple, Social, and Fun! And it succeeds! And so Small Basic makes code-FULL programming accessible and desirable to 8 year olds!
Now that’s getting awfully close to the age that Scratch is aimed at! But Kodu manages to go even younger, all the way down to 4! And it has videogame-like 3D graphics that kids can play/program with on both their Xbox and their computer! So it’s a really great tool to start on, and Small Basic is the logical choice for the next step. (Why take 8 steps, when you can get it done in 2?)
Or if your kid is (or you are) already 8 or older, it makes a ton of sense to jump directly into Small Basic, which will transition you into professional programming as quickly as possible. That’s the goal. Let’s learn so that we can change the world!
Hopefully this gives you a good picture of what we’ve been up to at Microsoft. The future is in the hands of the next generation!
Happy 4th of July! Here’s to the future!
– Ninja Ed