Kodesnakk: Teaching and learning programming with interactive screencasts
In the “Kodesnakk” (“code talk”) project we are studying how interactive “screencasts” can be produced and used by students and teachers in programming subjects in years 8-10 (ungdomsskole) and 11-13 (videregående skole).
© UiO/Hans Fredrik Asbjørnsen
Our lives are increasingly affected by the advance of digital technology. Skills and competency at handling this technology is an essential component of what is often referred to as 21st century skills (Brinkley et al. 2012). This competency can be achieved in several ways. One way is by learning simple programming. A committee appointed by the Education Directorate (Utdanningsdirektoratet) (Sanne et al. 2016) recommends programming as a mandatory activity in Norwegian schools to improve the understanding of the new technologies our society is based on. Programming, modelling and computational thinking are subjects teachers rarely have been taught as part of their teacher training.
Lye og Koh (2014) suggest that future research on computational thinking and programming should (1) make students verbalise their thoughts while programming, and (2) save the students’ onscreen activity so that the programming process can be analysed. We will achieve this by using technology developed by the company Scrimba AS.
About the project
The participants of the project, teachers and students in the elective subject in programming in secondary school and teachers and students in the program subjects IT1 and IT2 in upper secondary school, will both watch screencasts and create their own screencasts in Scrimba.
The Scrimba product is an interactive, audio-visual format for presenting code. The tool combines a video-like presentation of code with the possibility of explaining the code using spoken word (known as a “screencast”). A screencast is a sequential presentation of code as it is being written. A spectator watching a screencast will see the code being produced and hear i.e. a teacher explaining what they are doing. Students can also make screencasts while they are writing code. This allows them to try out the subject matter in an interactive way. Students can add sound recordings, meaning they have to explain their code and (not least) coding process as they work. Oral skills and understanding one’s work process are basic skills in the programming subject (Udir, 2017). Finished screencasts can be sent to the teacher, for instance to aid in evaluation.
Research Questions and Method
The research questions we intend to address are, among others:
- To what extent does Scrimba improve the learning processes for the students in their subject activities?
- How do students (year 8-13) master assignments of producing text and speech simultaneously?
- How do teachers use screencasts to provide valuable feedback to students?
- What is a good design for helping users switch between an active and passive use of screencasts?
We are collecting data through observations in the classroom, interviews with students and teachers, and by studying screencasts produced by students and teachers. In addition, we use some quantitative metadata collected through Scrimba.
The participants are students and teachers from four secondary schools and four upper secondary schools.
Kodesnakk is a collaboration between the Department of Education at the University of Oslo, Scrimba AS, Regional Research Fund (Regionalt forskningsfond) and the participating schools in Oslo and Akershus.