CoSpaces: the Next Dimension after Scratch
With the forced move to online learning many new platforms and tools have been introduced to the average classroom. Here in Ontario, the government has added computer coding expectations to the math curriculum. While Scratch may be new to many educators it has been dominating the educational coding space for more than ten years. Scratch is a fantastic resource to introduce students to programming but what comes next?
Hired.com a website that helps match tech companies with the talent they need reported a 1400% increase in requests for AR/VR software engineers. The next closest increase was gaming at 146%. As companies integrate these new ways of interfacing with computers these AR/VR jobs span every field from healthcare to architecture. What does this trend have that is hard to explore in Scratch and Python? 3D space. The Z-Axis.
Enter coSpaces. A 3D educational coding environment designed to work on most tablets, phones and computers. Educators can create assignments from templates and manage classrooms with ease. The largest advantage over Scratch besides the extra dimension is the ability to collaborate on projects. Students can create 3D worlds to explore together. They can script objects with block code similar to Scratch. Students can then use mobile devices to place their objects in the real world and even project these to a physical cube they can hold in their hands. These augmented reality applications are similar to what architects and engineers are doing today with technologies such as Autodesk 3DS MAX, VIM architectural visualization software and Microsoft’s MESH. With VR headsets such as Google Cardboard, Oculus Go or ClassVR students can put themselves in their own creations. This software can be used for any subject and scale to different grade levels. Students can even load in custom models from sources such as TinkerCAD. CoSpaces offers the perfect steppingstone from block coding to the 3D development environments Unity and Unreal. These applications are what most modern games are created in. Unreal has recently shown its use replacing the traditional green screens of film in productions such as The Mandalorian. These engines are on the forefront of technology and coSpaces offers an accessible training ground.
The main barrier to entry besides having access to chromebooks or tablets is that there is a paywall. There is a free version which anyone can use to explore other people’s creations but the coding and assets available to create with are limited. The lowest pro plan is $75.99 USD for 5 seats, but specialized school and board pricing is available.