App Review – Coding Apps: Kodable

With the new National Curriculum, complete with its new ‘Computing’ subject, looming closer, schools are thinking more and more about how they are going to deliver this aspect. With the arrival of some quality coding apps, I have no worries, as the apps available will complement our existing control resource beautifully, and Kodable is just such an app.

With the update released today, Kodable has, in my opinion, just moved itself into the category of ‘must-have’ apps for primary schools. The new version includes a parent/teacher portal which promises curriculum support materials coming in July 2013. It also has the ability to upgrade to having 2 new worlds via an in-app purchase. Better than that, there is now a ‘Pro-version‘ currently priced at £1.99 (£60 for a class set? Not bad as software goes).

So what’s included?
The free version is a beginner lesson, set in the world of Smeeborg.

-Children have 30 levels to work through (Angry Birds style).
– They must guide their ‘fuzz’ (further fuzzes are unlockable as the game progresses), through a series of mazes, collecting coins on the way, using positional arrows in a drag and drop linear command sequence.
– as the levels move on, children are faced with coloured blocks in the maze, which introduce an ‘if….then’ function (eg, if you reach the purple square, then move down).
– towards the end, the repeat or loop function is introduced, encouraging children to program ‘smarter’.

Within the Pro version (or via in-app purchase) 2 further worlds are unlocked.

Function Junction involves further experimentation with functions. Bugs Below is the real winning feature for me though, with children encouraged to de-bug, looking at problem codes and using critical thinking skills to work out how to fix them.

For me this app would lie perfectly between children using beebots and the beebot app, and moving on to word-based programming such as Hopscotch and Scratch. The excellent Cargo-bot could also be used as an extension for those who are successful using Kodable, as it contains many similar features but requires a lot more of that logical thinking!

What’s great about it?
– an engaging and familiar interface
– the ability to unlock new characters is very appealing
– the teacher portal allows you to lock/unlock levels for different users
– the curriculum support materials promised look useful for less confident teachers
– the opportunity to try it out with a ‘lite’ version
– the progression of skills involved and the links to real coding terms
– it’s very visual, no reading required

What could be better?
– the ‘fuzz’ moves quite slowly which can become a little tedious (although does make it clear to see which part of the program has been reached)

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