USIU-Africa hosted a two-day conference for African users of a visual programming tool called Scratch from 28-29 April at the Innovation and Incubation Center. The tool which was developed by the MIT Media Lab, helps scholars and educators ease into the advanced world of computer programming, and is integrated into several learning approaches such as student-centered discovery as the key in the learning process.

Participants took advantage of the opportunity to share their stories about initiatives and personal experiences that they have engaged in to build the scratch user and developer community in Africa through activities that have the learning-through-making approach at the core of each activity.

Joining via video conference were Dr. Mitch Resnick, Associate Academic Head for the program in Media Arts and Sciences at MIT Media Lab and also one of the creators of the Scratch programming and Kreg Hanning, a masters student at MIT Media Lab and a member of the scratch development team.

Mr. Hanning, led a skillshare session centering on how to develop extensions for the scratch programming platform, while Dr. Resnick led a discussion session on current efforts of the scratch developer team, as well as the future vision for the scratch platform.

The conference ended with various mini-workshops that involved Internet of Things (IOT) boards such as the Kenyan made ‘Scratch and Sketch’;  an effort to translate the Scratch platform into Swahili,  a Virtual Reality session with a Leap-motion Controller, and a ‘maker’ session featuring electronics. Participating USIU-Africa students also received a generous donation of KE 75,000 worth of IOT equipment and development boards!

It is expected that this event will played a major role in attracting the attention of the global scratch community and the scratch team at MIT, and inspire a decision to host the global scratch conference in Africa in 2018.