Blocks and Beyond
Lessons and Directions for First Programming Environments
A VL/HCC 2015 workshop in Atlanta on Thu., Oct. 22, 2015
Important Dates:
24 Jul. 2015: Submissions due.
27 Jul. 2015: Submissions due. (deadline extended; due by end of day, anytime on Earth)
14 Aug. 2015: Author notification.
4 Sep. 2015: Camera ready copies due.
22 Oct. 2015: Workshop in Atlanta.
23 Oct. 2015: Extra day for blocks language developers, researchers, and teachers to interact.


We invite two kinds of submissions:

  1. A 1 to 3 page position statement describing an idea or research question related to the design, teaching, or study of blocks programming environments.
  2. A paper (up to 6 pages) describing previously unpublished results involving the design, study, or pedagogy of blocks programming environments.

All submissions must be made as PDF files to the Easy Chair Blocks and Beyond workshop submission site.

Although we do not require a particular formatting template for the first round of submissions, we recommend using one of the IEEE Conference templates.

Submissions need not be anonymized, but you may anonymize them if you wish.

Because this workshop will be discussion-based, rather than a mini-conference, the number of presentation/demonstration slots are limited. Authors for whom presentation or demonstration is essential should indicate this in their submission.

Call for Participation

Scope and Goals

Blocks programming environments represent program syntax trees as compositions of visual blocks. This family of tools includes Scratch, Blockly,'s lessons, App Inventor, Snap!, Pencil Code, Alice/Looking Glass, AgentSheets/AgentCubes, etc. They have introduced programming and computational thinking to tens of millions, reaching people of all ages and backgrounds.

Despite their popularity, there has been remarkably little research on the usability, effectiveness, or generalizability of affordances from these environments. The goal of this workshop is to begin to distill testable hypotheses from the existing folk knowledge of blocks-based programming environments and identify research questions and partnerships that can legitimize, or discount, pieces of this knowledge. The workshop will bring together educators and researchers with experience in blocks languages, as well as members of the broader VL/HCC community who wish to examine this area more deeply. We seek participants with diverse expertise, including, but not limited to: design of programming environments, instruction with these environments, the learning sciences, data analytics, usability, and more.

The workshop will be a generative discussion that sets the stage for future work and collaboration. It will include participant presentations and demonstrations that frame the discussion, followed by reflection on the state of the field and smaller working-group discussion and brainstorming sessions.

Suggested Topics for Discussion