UNI's free programming class gains international attention

Programming students

Ben Schafer, an associate professor at UNI, is helping educators prepare students with computer programming skills. Elementary and middle school educators interested in learning how to integrate computer science into their curriculum can do so completely in a web browser through a free online course he developed.

“I am most proud of the continued demand and reach of the course,” said Schafer. “In 2014, the course reached mostly teachers in Iowa, but by the second year, we were nationwide. Now, we are global, and I think that’s incredible.”

Over the span of six weeks, participants learn how to create interactive art, animate storytelling and develop games through an online program, Scratch. Scratch solely runs through a web browser and allows users to manipulate graphical elements rather than typing textual commands. Because of this, the online course doesn’t require prior computer programming knowledge or experience.

Those using the online course range from brand-new programmers who want to introduce programming into their classrooms, all the way to experienced programmers who want to learn more about how to work with Scratch. This year, teachers are enrolled in the course from 35 different states and 23 different world countries (including the U.S.).

For more information about Scratch and the online course, visit https://csed.uni.edu/summer-2019/scratch/.