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?


The block coding of Scratch

Transitioning students from the instant visual gratification of Scratch to the text-based languages of Python or Javascript can seem like a step backwards. While more applicable these languages take much more time and learning to create anything as visually appealing or fun. While web development and machine learning are no doubt the dominant uses of programming in this age what do future trends indicate?


Growth in company interview requests for software engineers from Hired, Retrieved from Vox

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.


A coSpaces project involving physics simulation.

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.


A Star Wars themed scene in coSpaces made from publicly available assets.

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.

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This hammer was heavy.

I'm Dean. A professional musician and video editor now sharing my experience with my students and the world. I blog mostly about music, technology and how to integrate these subjects in educational situations. I teach Scratch, Python, and am fluent in Adobe Creative Cloud.

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