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Interactive storytelling for promoting creative expression in media and coding in youth online collaboratives


Abstract and Figures

Constructionist approaches have favored children's learning designing games and software applications because of their social and personal relevance. Designing interactive stories and animations have been seen as equally motivational but less successful in promoting the sophisticated forms of computational thinking and participation that are a prominent part of newly emerging social networking forums for online creative communities. In this paper, we examine two promising aspects of online creative collaboratives for learning in Scratch community: (1) how learning programming can emerge alongside creative expression in collaboratively designed interactive stories, and (2) how feedback can shape the artistic and computational qualities of stories between draft and final project online submissions. The analyses focused on changes in drafts and final projects by examining quantity and quality of media elements and program code in a collaborative story telling activity in Scratch online community. Findings indicate that online collaborative creative storytelling and constructive feedback provided on drafts by community and Scratch team members have the potential to generate both more complex story designs and code development. In the discussion we address the implications for designing creative collaboration that situate programming and media designs in mutually supportive ways.
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Deborah A. Fields1, Yasmin B. Kafai*, Anna Strommer1,
Elissa Wolf*, and Bailey Seiner*
Constructionist approaches have favored children’s learning designing games and software
applications because of their social and personal relevance. Designing interactive stories and
animations have been seen as equally motivational but less successful in promoting the
sophisticated forms of computational thinking and participation that are a prominent part of newly
emerging social networking forums for online creative communities. In this paper, we examine two
promising aspects of online creative collaboratives for learning in Scratch community: (1) how
learning programming can emerge alongside creative expression in collaboratively designed
interactive stories, and (2) how feedback can shape the artistic and computational qualities of
stories between draft and final project online submissions. The analyses focused on changes in
drafts and final projects by examining quantity and quality of media elements and program code in
a collaborative story telling activity in Scratch online community. Findings indicate that online
collaborative creative storytelling and constructive feedback provided on drafts by community and
Scratch team members have the potential to generate both more complex story designs and code
development. In the discussion we address the implications for designing creative collaboration
that situate programming and media designs in mutually supportive ways.
Keywords online creative collaboration, Scratch programming, digital storytelling
1. Introduction
Constructionism has promoted learning by design approaches for creative expression and
knowledge reformulation [27]. These design approaches provide student projects with personal
relevance while at the same time promoting technical skills such as programming [26]. Historically
however, most research has focused either on the technical skills learned or on the personal and
social relevance of the artifacts created by students within constructionist learning environments.
More often than not, the technical side of computational learning has been prioritized by focusing
on artifacts like designing games [8; 18], simulations [29], or even robots [35]. The creative side of
programming has received much less attention, and if so, mostly in relation to creating stories [21],
music videos [10], or interactive art [28]. These digital media productions that draw on traditional
arts like visual expression, music, theater, and narrative writing have been seen as computationally
less challenging. Indeed, in the Scratch online programming community, creating stories around
1 Utah State University,,
* University of Pennsylvania,,,
young adult fiction has emerged as a popular activity, especially among girls, but one that often
involves less sophisticated programming than the equally popular game designs preferred by mostly
boys [31]. How to support more sophisticated programming alongside rich storytelling that
promotes creative expression is thus a promising area of constructionist approaches.
Constructionist approaches have also focused on social relevance, seeing the construction of digital
artifacts as a social enterprise, one that engages learners in sharing their artifacts with others. Papert
[27] in particular had been fond of learning communities such as samba schools where the
collaborative development, critique and performance of activities is a driving force for the learning
of all members. In recent years, many online youth networking communities have begun creating,
sharing, and socializing around user-created content [13]. Such social online forums, where others
are creating similar types of artifacts, afford many educational opportunities, including designing or
writing for a specific audience [23], giving and receiving constructive criticism [1], creating
projects collaboratively [2], [20], studying the design of others’ projects, remixing or redesigning
the designs of others [25], and making mods of games [12], [14]. Youth online programming
communities such as Scratch are emerging as sites that may provide the kind of technical, creative,
and social support needed for adolescents to develop skills and discipline their creative
imaginations, providing a new venue for a “special culture” to support youth development [15]. Yet
instrumenting participation and performance in such youth online communities is rare, especially in
such ways that specifically support adolescents’ programming activities as they take place
alongside creative expression.
In this paper, we examine how interactive storytelling can become a context for creative expression
that engages youth in more sophisticated design of interactive media and in more complex program
code by situating it in the online social networking forums of Scratch. By adopting elements of the
studio art model [34] for the design of online collaborative story telling, we used both creative
constraints and constructive criticism to support the integration of more intermediate and advanced
programming concepts in stories created with Scratch. In alignment with Csikszentmihalyi [5] we
view creativity through a socially systemic lens, where individuals build on culturally valued
practices, meanings, and designs to produce new variations within a domain. In this context
viewing others’ work may promote a view of the social side of creativity, learning what a
community views as creative, original, good, and thought-provoking [6]. Thus we see creativity as
an equally personal and social act that includes sustained discussion with peers and the need for an
appreciation of the constraints that one is augmenting or violating while producing a contribution.
Such a view of creativity lends itself well to examine creative expression as part of constructionist
practices prominent in current-day social networking forums such as the Scratch community.
We developed an online collaborative and creative storytelling activity as an effort to invite Scratch
members’ participation into collaborations and stimulate their narrative expression and
programming skills in a supportive, community context. We chose to target interactive stories as a
genre to engage youth in intermediate level programming skills (primarily around interactivity)
alongside more creative expressions (primarily around media use and narrative) in a meaningfully
paired way. While programming productions, alone or in collaboration with others [7], can result in
impressive products [22], we were also interested in the role community feedback can play in how
programming artifacts can be improved. Such feedback, in the form of comments or critiques or
even remixing, is a key dimension of many, even youth online communities [1] but has rarely been
examined or even engineered as part of educational interventions around programming. We know
from preliminary research that experienced peers and mentors can play an important leadership role
in the Scratch community [33].
With this as background, our investigations focused on two key aspects of online creative
collaborative programming: (1) how more sophisticated programming can emerge alongside
creative expression in collaboratively designed interactive stories in both media and coding used by
youth teams, and (2) how an online community can be supportive of youths’ development of
creative expression in interactive storytelling, in particular how it can shape the artistic and
computational qualities of stories between draft and final project submission. During the month of
August 2011, we started a Collab Camp in the online Scratch community, as part of a research
program on online creative collaboration in youth programming [20], [31]. Our research questions
focus on creative expression and programming techniques as well as the role of community support
in improving story projects. In this we aim to consider programming as an artistic skill and online
community as a supportive social environment for deepening skills and creative expression.
3. Design and Analysis of Scratch Collab Camp Stories
The main context for the online collaborative story writing was the Scratch programming tool and
website ( which lets members share their work with one another. With over 5
million projects shared since its public launch in 2007, the Scratch website is a vibrant online
community with over 1,000 new projects being uploaded every day. Scratch is a media-rich
programming language that allows youth to design, share, and remix software programs in the form
of games, stories, and animations [30]. The Collab Camp was run for four weeks in August
( Open to the entire Scratch community, the Collab
Camp had three requirements: (1) teams needed a minimum of two participants; (2) teams had to
create an interactive story; and (3) teams had to upload an initial draft midway through the
competition to receive constructive feedback from the Scratch team before submitting a final
project two weeks later. Both draft and final projects were exhibited in a select gallery where
participants could view and comment on each other’s projects. Further, a selection of 14 Collab
Camp projects were featured in rotating fashion on the front page of
At least two members of the Scratch Team or specially trained Collab Counselors left constructive
criticism on project drafts. Constructive comments were both positive, listing specific things that
were good, and constructive, describing things that could be improved, although they were
generally limited to one or two comments of 500 characters each, a conventional limitation of the
Scratch site. Commenters focused on elements of story (suspense, drama, conflict), usability
(instructions, clarity), interactivity, and media (sound, visuals, music). Where relevant, commenters
occasionally left specific programming tips for fixing bugs, but in general comments stuck to more
thematic ideas regarding story, usability, interactivity, and media.
A total of 33 collabs, each with 2+ members from the online Scratch community, completed the
competition by submitting both a draft and a final version of their Scratch interactive stories, which
were collected for analysis In addition, we recorded the constructive comments left on the
submitted drafts by the extended Scratch Team and Collab Counselors. Elsewhere we have
examined the forms of collaboration for teams who worked together on the Scratch forums or
through comments on projects [20], [31] but in this paper we focus solely on the Scratch projects
and comments. To understand changes in Scratch stories, we examined the complexity of (1) media
production and (2) program code in draft and final Scratch stories.
To analyze the creative expression of the media arts production, we employed a ground-up
approach evaluating several elements in the interactive stories [4]. Two members of the group
viewed a sub-sample of the 33 projects and began developing a coding scheme to capture different
uses of visual and audio media, and types of interactivity. Examples of such features were mini-
games and puzzles, visual graphics, emotional triggers (some projects actually made us laugh),
characters, plot, and many others. After several iterations and the inclusion of additional features
that changed between the draft and final projects, interactivity, story, and media emerged as key
categories in the story production, each with several subcategories. For instance, the theme
interactivity contained six subcategories (mechanism, clicks to alter looks, plot choices, mini-
games, puzzles, and other), story included six subcategories (character, dialogue, plot-suspense,
plot-choices, plot-resolution, and emotion), and media consisted of four subcategories (music,
sound effects, voices and images). In addition, we captured different levels of the quality of creative
expression on a scale of 0, 1, 2, or 3. Using these rubrics one researcher scored 28 drafts and 28
final projects2, calculating subtotals of scores in each area. This scoring was accompanied by
qualitative write-ups of each project to provide a more descriptive account of how the project
developed from beginning to end.
To analyze the complexity of programming code, we first used an automated tool, called Scrape, to
capture code block frequency and then coded by hand to capture code complexity not included by
simple frequency accounts of programming scripts. Scrape’s main function is to count how many
times each different type of code block is used and also within Scratch block categories in each
project [36]. We then developed categories of programming code (user interaction, loops,
conditional, communication and synchronization, Booleans, variables, and random numbers)
developed by Maloney et al’s to see the frequency of programming code in draft projects and
whether any groups included new categories of coding in their final projects [24]. We also coded by
hand a sample of six interactive story projects for a deeper analysis of the use of loops,
synchronizations and events, variables/lists, and Booleans and noted how and when project creators
synchronized their sprites and which programming techniques were used. We then used this master
list as a checklist while going through the rest of our case study projects, noting common
programming concepts and the number of times a concept was used in each sprite in a project. In
this way we were able to document common techniques used across interactive stories.
4. Creative Expressions in Collaborative Coding of Interactive Stories
The interactive stories solicited by the Collab Camp demonstrated a range of creative expression as
well as strong improvements in the quality of storytelling and the sophistication of programming
after constructive criticism. Below we describe the kinds of changes collabs made in their stories
and programming and the role of constructive criticism in those changes.
4.1. Media Arts Designs
Each collab took the design challenge of interactive storytelling and created something unique,
demonstrating that the design challenge allowed for a range of creative expression distinctive to
each Scratch group as we will describe more below. Some stories were more game-like (akin to
adventure or role-playing games like Legends of Zelda or Mario Brothers), others were essentially
games with a strong underlying narrative background, and others were more basic stories that
allowed users to choose alternate endings or affect the looks and choices of select characters. The
projects also differed greatly in the size and complexity of the stories, demonstrating a range not
only in the interests of the creators but in the experiences they brought to the project, with some
projects clearly by younger, less experienced Scratchers and others by more senior, highly
experienced Scratchers. Nearly all (26 of 282) of the collabs increased the richness of the creative
expression in their project between the draft and final versions, primarily through changes made in
interactivity, story, and media. In terms of quantity, changes to story and media were the most
predominant, though most online collabs increased the amount and type of interactivity used (from
plot choices to mini-games within the stories). Most online collabs developed stronger narratives by
adding richer character backgrounds, more dialogue, greater and more focused suspense, and more
emotional elements to the stories in their final versions. They also tended to utilize music, sound,
and visual imagery in more effective ways that substantially increased the player’s emotional
investment in the story. Overall, constructive criticism seemed to play a strong role in these
changes as out of the 28 collabs, 20 made changes in direct response to constructive feedback
given. To illustrate the depth of changes made in the quality and creativity of the interactive stories
as well as the role constructive criticism played in the process of revision, below we describe two
case studies.
The first case we turn to is Dragonfly Lagoon, an elaborately designed quest story where a young
boy suffering from amnesia seeks the help of dragonflies in a large lagoon to find out who he is
(see Figure 1). The main character, Leo, must succeed in several different quests to regain his
memory and he receives help from Fi, a dragonfly. As one might expect, in the draft submission the
story was unfinished: it began abruptly and provided not background for the character nor a strong
sense of Leo’s emotional state at having amnesia. The main character Leo did not speak and was
simply thrown into the action of an incomplete story where only one task was complete. Along
these lines, Collab camp leader Stareyes made the following comment on the draft version: “I can
imagine some fun conversations happening between Fi and Leo as they walk and search. Maybe
Leo gets discouraged and Fi encourages him. Maybe Fi is a little persnickety at times and teases
Leo. A little conversation could make the searching more fun. :)” The collab jumped on these ideas
and in the final version utilized an opening cut scene in which the main character, Leo, has an
emotional dialog with his new friend, Fi. The dialog gives context for Leo’s location and
motivation for his actions, and also creates personality for both characters. These changes appear to
have been made in direct response to the constructive feedback of Collab Camp counselors like
Stareyes. Many other additions were also made to the project, including more visuals, a start screen,
a more extended (and complete) story, multiple kinds of background music (which strengthened the
emotional tenor of the story), and improved aesthetics of both images and movement. All of these
amplified the quality of the interactive story.
Figure 1: Screen shots of Dragonfly Lagoon Scratch story
Another project, Lumos, illustrates the diverse range of interactive story submitted to the Collab
Camp, while the team also responded in significant ways to constructive criticism offered on draft
2 Due to technical difficulties 5 of the 33 projects were not analyzed for changes in media, story, or interactivity.
versions. The Lumos Project was primarily a game with a strong storyline about a ship with
different possible crews—pirates, military, and aliens—all fighting for dominion over the Earth
(see Figure 2). One Collab Counselor wrote in the comments, “I like the notes of humor—they add
a lot. It took me a long time to kill the spaceship, which got a bit boring. Are there instructions? I
couldn’t find any. This will be great—keep working on it!” In response, the Lumos team added
more touches of humor in the dialog and explanations. They also created a detailed tutorial to
explain how to play the gaming parts of the story. The team made many additional changes that
went beyond the spectrum of the comments, improving the steering and feel of the spaceship,
allowing users to customize the crew and ship, extending the storyline significantly, and adding
sound effects. Indeed, the depth and richness of changes made to Dragonfly Lagoon, Lumos and
many other interactive stories suggests that our analysis may have short-changed the role of
constructive criticism in supporting revisions and learning between the draft and final projects.
While it is refreshing to see that Scratch members responded to suggestions, and deepened the
quality of their stories on several levels, in the following analyses we examine how these changes
played out on the level of code.
Figure 2: Screen shots of Lumos Scratch story
4.2. Code Designs
One of the main goals of Collab Camp was to promote more sophisticated programming within the
context of rich storytelling. Comparing the programming of draft and final versions of collab
projects with Scrape revealed two trends indicative of positive developments in programming.
Programming concepts like loops, conditionals, and synchronization and events were used by
nearly all projects in the Collab Camp (see Figure 3). Several Collabs introduced more
sophisticated programming concepts into their final projects that were not initially present in their
draft submissions: 25% of collabs (8 of 33) introduced Booleans, 21% (7 of 33) introduced
variables, and 30% (10 of 33) introduced random numbers. These findings gain particular relevance
when compared to analyses conducted on projects where Booleans, variables, and random numbers
were utilized in fewer than 12% of Computer Clubhouse projects [24]. Furthermore, Booleans
(76%), variables (94%), and random numbers (63%) were used by nearly all projects in the Collab
Camp story telling, whereas they were used in far fewer numbers in the Computer Clubhouse (48%,
22%, and 16% respectively). At a very basic level, this suggests that the design of collab activity
did indeed increase complexity of programming within a story telling context.
We also sought to understand how these programming concepts were being used beyond the mere
presence of them. Examining six case studies, we found a greater range of foundational
programming skills within all categories. All programs used basic loops as well as conditional
loops whereas five of the projects even used nested loops—situating one loop within another such
that a subset of actions would repeat for a certain number of times before going back to the larger
loop. All programs used at least one user-created variable with quite a range of ways that variables
were used—to control movement and appearance, to vary recursive loops, to keep score in mini-
games, and to synchronize an event. More importantly, four programs used multiple variables and
three projects used lists in effective ways that supported the storytelling. Three projects utilized
Booleans and tended to use them in sophisticated ways, embedding multiple Booleans within
Booleans (i.e., if this and that is true, or this and that are true, then do an action). Finally, all six
case study programs used a variety of ways to synchronize and orchestrate events, including
orchestrated timing, broadcasts, variables, and “wait until” commands. In particular, simple levels
of thread synchronization can be learned by novice programmers in Scratch in the form of
coordinating sprites’ actions via broadcast [9], [24].
Figure 3: Frequency of programming concepts before and after final story submission
Since the use of ‘broadcast’ commands lend themselves to event-driven programming, we further
investigated their use because novice programmers in Scratch often synchronize events with “wait”
(delay) commands. While creating a conversation by having characters wait for a few seconds in
between conversational turns is possible, this programming quickly becomes cumbersome. More
advanced Scratchers may use the Scratch-based “broadcast” and “when I receive” commands to
coordinate actions because broadcast allows one sprite to initiate a signal to one or more sprites,
allowing a more abstract and coordinated form of synchronization. Five of the six case study
projects utilized “broadcast” and the associated “when I receive” scripts. All five projects increased
the number of “when I receive” scripts per broadcast between the first and final submissions.
Further, each of the five projects had one sprite that initiated the majority of the “broadcasting,”
with other sprites doing the majority of the “receiving.” Progressing toward using one broadcast for
multiple receives and centralizing the broadcasting in a single sprite demonstrates a higher level of
abstraction and organization in synchronization and events and exhibits the kind of more
sophisticated programming we hoped the interactive story challenge would elicit.
5. Discussion
We investigated the ways in which a collaborative design challenge to create an interactive story
could become a context for creative expression through artistic media production and
programming. Although interest-driven communities, whether online or locally face-to-face, have
received much praise in regard to their potential to help youth learn and engage in producing with
digital media in the wild (e.g., [11], [15], [17]), it has been difficult to translate these voluntary
engagements to more intentional pursuits. We did so in the two following ways: (1) by situating the
story design activity within the larger Scratch online community to engage community members
and facilitate social relevance; and (2) by providing constructive criticism at a key mid-point in the
challenge to support productive revisions in story projects. The majority of the collabs who
submitted both a first and final project made substantive changes in response to the constructive
feedback they received, both in the richness of the storytelling through elements of interactivity,
narrative, and media, and in the complexity of the programming. The design challenge
demonstrates that online communities can be leveraged to support deeper media and programming
creation in a socially relevant way.
Our findings further suggest that the Collab Camp provided a meaningful platform for using more
sophisticated programming techniques within a story-based, creative context. This in itself is an
encouraging finding as it suggests that the interactive story challenge did provide a meaningful
context where those more sophisticated techniques were useful. Deeper analysis of a subset of
projects revealed not just increased quantity but more sophisticated qualities of using loops,
variables/lists, Booleans, and synchronization/events. In particular, the interactive stories appear to
encourage sophisticated uses of “broadcasts” in Scratch as a form of event-driven programming.
Oftentimes in the literature on engaging youth in technical pursuits, video games, simulations and
robotics have taken precedence over more traditional arts like narrative, music, and art [14]. Yet our
analysis demonstrates that challenging, sophisticated programming can be facilitated in interactive
storytelling. Indeed, those projects that had the highest media/creativity scores were also the ones
that had the highest programming scores.
Constructive criticism played an important role [33] in supporting revisions and steering
improvements in participants’ stories solicited as part of an online collaborative design challenge.
However, analyzing the development of skills and techniques in relation to more artistic media
qualities of the interactive stories proved to be a challenge. For one, there is very little literature
explicating what counts as more sophisticated programming, especially at novice levels and in
informal contexts. More often programming is analyzed in relation to a formal curriculum where
everyone completes the same project and it is easy to see who has deviated from the best solution.
In contrast, design of narrative elements and graphics were left to Scratch members and thus it was
difficult to evaluate how well their interactive stories progressed. Connecting programming
techniques and artistic expression in interactive stories was a challenging, yet worthy effort to
create contexts for authentic personal expression with digital technology.
The implications from this study suggest that giving kids a design challenge to create interactive
stories is an effective way to help them to learn how to synchronize actions and orchestrate events,
and in particular how to use “broadcasts.” Stories are in essence a series of cause and effect events
told in some kind of narrative. This very characteristic of stories is one reason that they are very
effective in learning this particular computational concept. In addition, the added challenge of
making the story interactive enhanced the opportunities and need for sophisticated synchronization.
Seeing an increase in the amount of centralized coordination is an encouraging finding and suggests
that the narrative aspect of the interactive story challenge promoted the use of some challenging
programming concepts and techniques. These findings provide design guidelines for how other
learning through design activities can be structured for both richer creative expression and
programming complexity [20]. In recent work, we have found that collaborative tasks of
programming music videos can be designed in such a fashion that computational concepts such as
synchronization and initialization integrate collaboration, programming, and creativity in an
authentic and meaningful way [10]. Rather than being distinct requirements, the learning of
programming and collaboration can become mutually beneficial to each other and realize a core
premise of constructionist approaches.
6. Acknowledgments
We wish to thank the MIT Scratch Team, especially Ricarose Roque and Amos Blanton for their
role in creating and supporting Collab Camp. Thanks also to Taylor Martin for feedback and
support of analysis for this paper. This research has been supported by NSF awards to Yasmin
Kafai (#0855868) and to Taylor Martin (#1025243). The views expressed are those of the authors
and do not represent the views of the National Science Foundation, Utah State University or the
University of Pennsylvania.
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... Comments that provide feedback on projects can give purpose to Scratch programmers [6], propelling them to deeper programming and/or participation. When given constructive comments in a time-sensitive collaborative challenge, most Scratch creators responded with direct changes in their projects [14]. There is also empirical evidence that comments about projects are more linguistically sophisticated than other kinds of comments on the Scratch site [17, more on this in Section 4]. ...
... We had success in one time-limited collaborative design challenge (called Collab Camp) in encouraging more participants to leave positive, constructive feedback by explicitly modeling such feedback and suggesting areas for commenting (from usability of a game to appreciations of sound effects) [40]. We also know from other research that nearly all of the users receiving constructive feedback improved their projects accordingly [14]. Local users benefited as much, or more, than active online users from this participation, learning from their peers locally and becoming more aware of the process of computing as well as its relevance to a wide audience [15]. ...
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Millions of kids are visiting and communicating in online sites and communities. While some concerns have been raised unsupervised and potentially harmful communication, a number of studies have identified great potential in kids' online talk, especially when related to feedback on user-generated content. Yet little research has been done at scale to show whether or not positive communication practices are broadly engaged in or supported online. This paper focuses on the informal peer support present in the online Scratch community, a youth programming site. Drawing on a random sample of 8,000 comments from over 5,000 random participants on the Scratch website gathered from January to March 2012, our analysis focuses on the quality of comments about projects and identifies their constructive, emotional and functional foci In the discussion, we address what these findings tell us about productive participation, potential for future research, and opportunities for scaffolding broader and richer participation.
... Thus, hands-on learning of reallife applications such as working with circuitry and microcontrollers, where students collaborate to complete the tasks, is an example of an experiential learning experience [3]. Often STEM summer camps have recognized the need for experiential learning or constructivism to maintain student focus and interest and as a more effective learning method than lecture and practice exercises [4,5,6]. Students in the camp for this study engaged in creating circuits to perform various tasks as shown in Table 2. Through these exercises, they constructed their own learning about circuitry. ...
... Coding camps have taken somewhat different approaches to engage and interest students. Appealing to students' personal relevance with projects has been the hook for some coding camps [5]. Research that shows students, including those most underrepresented in engineering, are attracted by contributions to social issues has influenced coding camps to try to appeal to students from that perspective [4,6,16,19]. ...
... When the total scores of the study group obtained from digital stories were examined, it was observed that the digital story creation activities contributed to the creative thinking skills of the students. Jenkins and Lonsdale (2007), Wu and Yang (2008), Coutinho (2010), Motsamai (2012), LaFrance and Blizzard (2013), Fields et al. (2014), Karakoyun (2014), Thorne (2014), Yavuz Konokman (2015), Akyeampong (2018), Karakuş et al. (2020), Yang et al. (2020) also found a positive relationship between digital story creation and creative thinking in these studies. What is different from the majority of the previous studies is that the way to create a story through programming can develop creative thinking. ...
... Creative users utilize social media for self-expression and creative exploration through images, sounds, and narrative writing (Buckingham, 2007). Fields, Kafai, Strommer, Wolf, and Seiner (2014) indicated that the visual, musical, and written work performed online takes place alongside creative expression and that current social media platforms offer a supportive environment for this expression. Online political expression is one type of expression wherein the topics are limited to political or political-related issues, which can be differentiated from general self-expression by creative production, as their original purposes are different. ...
Introduction Educators and policymakers promote political participation in young people as a means to strengthen the legitimacy of democracy. Creative social media use has grown in popularity in the digital age; however, this creative usage still receives inadequate attention in the literature—particularly its association with political participation. Method This study collected three-wave panel data from a sample of young people living in Hong Kong (56.9% male, mean age = 18.81, standard deviation = 2.70) and used cross-lagged structural equation modeling to evaluate the mediating and moderating roles of online political expression in the link between creative social media and political participation. Results and conclusions The results showed that creative social media use positively predicted political participation indirectly by the full mediation of enhanced online political expression. Findings did not reveal the moderation role of online political expression in the link between creative use of social media and political participation. Findings make important theoretical contributions in the field linking social media usage to political engagement.
... (1) the students' ability to implement their game by using different types of commands, such as control, motion commands and variables (Aivaloglou & Hermans, 2016;Fields, Kafai, Strommer, Wolf, & Seiner, 2014). (2) the students' ability to follow the common best practices in programming, e.g., the avoidance of duplicated scripts and incorrect names (Gutierrez et al., 2018;Moreno-León & Robles, 2015) (3) the students' ability to create a game code that covers quality criteria (code smells), such as the avoidance of unused variables, long scripts, etc. (Techapalokul & Tilevich, 2017 ...
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In the last few years, engaging students to create digital games has been a pole of attraction for many teachers and researchers, resulting in highly positive learning experiences and promoting their thinking skills, e.g., programming and computational thinking (CT) skills. Researchers have already stated about the need for further research not only around the evaluation techniques and tools of the quality of these complex educational interventions, but mainly about ways to ease the assessment of students’ performance from multiple perspectives with authenticity. This paper contributes to proposing a multifaceted assessment framework of the degree of students’ acquisition of multiple skills, when they get involved in digital motion-based touchless game-making course-projects with the MIT Scratch tool. The results of its implementation during a pilot study with computer science undergraduate students, which are presented, highlight the positive effects of combining and extending various assessment techniques and tools to draw holistic conclusions about students’ higher skills including computational and spatial thinking skills.
... students' interest in technology-enhanced learning), which connect students' existing knowledge to the creation of stories through digital artifacts while strengthening computational storytelling. Others have pointed to interactive storytelling and creative expression as an aspect of coding in online communities such as Scratch [29]. In these studies, students used Scratch and other interactive media such as games, puzzles, and visual graphics to create or retell stories. ...
The learning environment plays a critical role in a child's life, affecting both cognitive development and effectiveness in work or play. As the boundary between physical and digital worlds blurs, there is a need for new digital tools and physical environments to support the everyday, cyber–physicalinteractions of children. This paper presents a Research-through-Design example of CyberPLAYce, a tangible, interactive, learning construction kit for children supporting storytelling and computational thinking (CT). The construction kit facilitates and enhances child-to-child, child-to-machine, and child-to-environment interactions through semi-structured play. It offers young students the opportunity to materialize their ideas through the construction of cyber–physical story algorithms allowing them to physically alter story segments while constructing and enhancing the storyline. The CyberPLAYce research places an emphasis on the importance of employing tangible learning tools in order to enhance children's active engagement. We focus on the motivations for CyberPLAYce, its participatory design, and results of an empirical study concerning CT with 8-12 year-old storytellers in a classroom setting. Results from the study suggest that cyber–physical activities afforded by CyberPLAYce cultivate engaged storytelling and CT practices in children. This multidisciplinary design-research contributes to construction tools for children, cyber–physical storytelling and story-construction activities, and tangible computing and programming activities that support CT.
... McDermott, Eccleston, and Brindley (2008) stated that the digital story approach is well suited for solving the challenges of programming teaching. Similarly, there are studies in the literature that emphasized that digital stories facilitate the learning of students (Fields, Kafai, Strommer, Wolf, & Seiner, 2014;Gyabak & Godina, 2011;Karaoglan Yilmaz & Durak, 2018;Kocaman-Karoglu, 2016;Verdugo & Belmonte, 2007;Yang & Wu, 2012). In the present study, programming education was realized with digital story development approach, and it was aimed to overcome the difficulties in programming teaching by examining the methodological effect. ...
The aim of this research is to determine the effects and experiences of the use of digital story design activities in teaching applications of programming on academic achievement, participation, and programming self-efficacy. In the study, which is designed through the mixed method, quasi-experimental design is used in the quantitative dimension. The study group of the research consists of 62 fifth-grade students in a secondary school. During the 10-week application process, the experimental group was engaged in digital story design activities in the programming learning process, and the learning process of the control group was carried out without any extra activity. As a result of the research, it is found that students' level of learning of programming concepts, programming self-efficacy, and level of participation in teaching process change significantly and more positively depending on experimental process. In addition, various suggestions for application and research are presented in the research.
... Collaboration among the participants was present in the large majority of studies. We know how important collaboration is to motivating and promoting learning, which is why many efforts concentrated on testing different types of offline or even online collaborative methods [18,38]. Although collaboration appears to be an important aspect of making activities, we saw very few descriptions of collaborative strategies and how they contribute to individual learning. ...
The Maker Movement has gathered much attention recently, and has been one of the fastest-growing topics, due to contemporary technical and infrastructural developments. The maker culture can be described as a philosophy in which individuals or groups of individuals create artifacts that are recreated and assembled using software and/or physical objects. Typical topics of interest in maker culture include engineering-oriented pursuits such as electronics, robotics, 3D printing, and computer numerical control tools, as well as more traditional activities such as sewing or arts and crafts. Scholars and educators have reported a variety of outcomes from the Maker Movement as an instructional process; however, the lack of a summary of these empirical studies prevents stakeholders from having a clear view of the benefits and challenges of this instructional culture. The purpose of this article is to provide a review of the Maker Movement approach in order to summarize the current findings and guide future studies. Forty-three peer-reviewed articles were collected from a systematic literature search and analyzed based on a categorization of their main elements. The results of this survey show the direction of Maker Movement research during recent years and the most common technologies, subjects, evaluation methods, and pedagogical designs. Suggestions for future research include a further investigation into the benefits of using a specific technological tool and analysis of the Maker Movement approach, particularly in classrooms. These future research efforts will allow us to better indicate which aspects and ingredients of “making” work better for which circumstances and student groups. The findings will ultimately allow us to form best practices and a unified framework for guiding/assisting educators who want to adopt this teaching style.
... From 2012 to 2013, we ran a series of three Collab Camps that utilized a specifi c time line where groups (or collabs) had to post a draft of their project by a specifi c time, receive constructive criticism from the Scratch Team and trained Scratchers (Collab Counselors), and then post a fi nal version 2-3 weeks later. This successfully supported project revisions and deepening of programming and media skills (Fields, Kafai, Strommer, Wolf, & Seiner, 2014 ) and an increase in constructive criticism left by participants on each others' projects (Roque, Kafai, & Fields, 2012 ). We also implemented Collab Camps locally with novice Scratch students. ...
While massive online communities have drawn the attention of researchers and educators on their potential to support active collaborative work, knowledge sharing, and user-generated content, few studies examine participation in these communities at scale. The little research that does exist attends almost solely to adults rather than communities to support youths’ learning and identity development. In this chapter, we tackle two challenges related to understanding social practices that support learning in massive social networking forums where users engage in design. We examined a youth programmer community, called, that garners the voluntary participation of millions of young people worldwide. We report on site-wide distributions and patterns of participation that illuminate the relevance of different online social practices to ongoing involvement in the online community. Drawing on a random sample of more than 5000 active users of over a 3-month time period in early 2012, we examine log files that captured the frequency of three types of social practices that contribute to enduring participation: DIY participatory activities, socially supportive actions, and socially engaging interactions. Using latent transition analysis, we found (1) distinct patterns of participation (classes) across three time points (e.g., high networkers who are generally active, commenters who focus mainly on social participation, downloaders engaging in DIY participatory activities), (2) unique migration changes in class membership across time, (3) relatively equal gender representation across these classes, and (4) importance of membership length (or age) in terms of class memberships. In the discussion, we review our approach to analysis and outline implications for the design and study of online communities and tools for youth.
This chapter traces the recent development and the use of games and digital stories for engaging students in learning in visual programming environments. It reports on the application of game development-based learning and educational digital storytelling to engage students in learning in visual programming environments. The empirical findings support the positive effects of these two learning approaches on a range of student learning outcomes. Because many available visual programming tools are free of charge and provide a low-floor, high-ceiling learning environment, teachers should encourage students to venture into the programming world with these tools. Such practice is beneficial to student learning both within the computer science discipline and across disciplines.
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Traditionally, educational researchers and practitioners have focused on the development of youths’ critical understanding of media as a key aspect of new media literacies. The 21st Century media landscape suggests an extension of this traditional notion of literacy – an extension that sees creative designs, ethical considerations, and technical skills as part of youth's expressive and intellectual engagement with media as participatory competencies. These engagements with media are also part of a growing Do-It-Yourself, or DIY, movement involving arts, crafts, and new technologies. The purpose of this chapter is to provide a framework and a language for understanding the multiple DIY practices in which youth engage while producing media. In the review, we will first provide a historical overview of the shifting perspectives of two related fields—new media literacies and computer literacy —before outlining the general trends in DIY media cultures that see youth moving towards becoming content creators. We then introduce how a single framework allows us to consider different participatory competencies in DIY under one umbrella. Special attention will be given to the digital practices of remixing, reworking, and repurposing popular media among disadvantaged youth. We will conclude with considerations of equity, access, and participation in after-school settings and possible implications for K-12 education. Drawing upon international research, Review of Research in Education, Volume 35 examines the interplay between youth cultures and educational practices. Although the articles describe youth practices across a range of settings, a central theme is how gender, class, race, and national identity mediate both adult perceptions of youth and youths’ experiences of schooling.
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When Moshe Vardi, Editor-in-Chief of CACM, invited us to submit an article about Scratch, he shared the story of how he learned about Scratch: A couple of days ago, a colleague of mine (CS faculty) told me how she tried to get her 10-year-old daughter interested in programming, and the only thing that appealed to her daughter (hugely) was Scratch. That's what we were hoping for when we set out to develop Scratch six years ago. We wanted to develop an approach to programming that would appeal to people who hadn't previously imagined themselves as programmers. We wanted to make it easy for everyone, of all ages, backgrounds, and interests, to program their own interactive stories, games, animations, and simulations – and to share their creations with one another. Since the public launch in May 2007, the Scratch website ( has become a vibrant online community, with people sharing, discussing, and remixing one another's projects. Scratch has been called "the YouTube of interactive media." Each day, Scratchers from around the world upload more than 1000 new projects to the site, with source code freely available for sharing and remixing. The collection of projects is wildly diverse: video games, interactive newsletters, science simulations, virtual tours, birthday cards, animated dance contests, interactive tutorials, and many others, all programmed in Scratch. The core audience on the Scratch website is between the ages of 8 and 16 (with a peak at age 12), though there is a sizeable group of adult participants as well. As Scratchers program and share interactive projects, they learn important mathematical and computational concepts, while also learning to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively – essential skills for the 21st century. Indeed, our primary goal is not to prepare people for careers as professional programmers, but rather to nurture the development of a new generation of creative, systematic thinkers who are comfortable using programming to express their ideas.
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Teens within local community organizations often serve in leadership roles, such as camp counselors or program assistants. As they carry out their responsibilities, they gain work skills and the community benefits from their contributions. With young people spending more time online, how might they build similar skills while contributing to the online communities they engage in? In this paper we examine the experience of youth who have taken on leadership roles within Scratch, a creative online community. We identify the main challenges these youth encountered, the strategies they used to manage these challenges, and what they learned in the process. Their descriptions suggest a progression from learning to carry out their responsibilities in collaboration with other team members to eventually developing their own visions for improving the community. We have found that these roles provide pathways of participation and deeper engagement for youth interested in contributing to online communities.
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Drawing on the New Literacy Studies, the authors argue that game literacy takes multiple forms and is embedded in different practices associated with particular games and gaming communities. They examine one specific game literacy practice that involves players of The Sims creating challenges for other players, and they identify how playing and creating these challenges engages players as designers, modders, coach/mentors, teachers, and orchestrators of particular forms of discourse. The forms of writing that the players engage in, both in online game forums and in their stories about their Sims, is a new print literacy practice, as well as an integral part of a specific game literacy practice. The authors' analysis suggests that the ability to engage in ‘soft modding’ may be a crucial, though undervalued, aspect of game literacy in this context, and also illustrates how game literacies can be integrally tied to and, in turn, transform print literacies.
At the beginning of the third millennium, the importance of creativity becomes ever more critical. Age-old problems, such as coexistence on an increasingly interdependent planet, need new solutions for our species to survive. And the unintended results of the creativity of past centuries require even more creativity to be resolved, as we must learn to cope with the aftermath of previous successes, such as increasing population density and chemical pollution.
Why do poor and minority students under-perform in school? Do computer games help or hinder learning? What can new research in psychology teach our educational policy-makers?