Blocks and Beyond 2
2nd Workshop on Lessons and Directions for First Programming Environments
A VL/HCC 2017 workshop in Raleigh, NC, USA, Oct. 10, 2017
The sequel to the 1st Blocks and Beyond Workshop (Oct, 2015)


Franklyn Turbak is an associate professor of Computer Science at Wellesley College. His interests include the design, analysis, and implementation of expressive programming languages, graphical representations of programs, and the visualization of computational processes. As a member of the MIT App Inventor development team and head of the Wellesley TinkerBlocks research project his current focus is to improve the expressiveness and pedagogy of blocks-based programming languages. He is co-author of the textbook Design Concepts in Programming Languages.

Jeff Gray is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Alabama. His main research interests are in software engineering and computer science education. Jeff is on the Education Advisory board of and also a K5 affiliate. He is a National Science Foundation CAREER recipient and an ACM Distinguished Member. Jeff has served on over 75 conference/workshop organizing committees and over 200 program committees. Most recently, he has been involved with the new CS Principles course in the following ways: national pilot instructor since 2011, NSF PI on a grant that is training 50 Alabama high school teachers, and a MOOC instructor for Google CS4HS. His current projects involving blocks languages include an NSF project that is investigating how children with disabilities can program in Scratch using “Programming by Voice,” as well as advising several new Blockly language environments (Spherly for Sphero robots and Pixly for pixel manipulation). More general information about his work is at:

Caitlin Kelleher is the Urbauer Career Development Associate Professor of Computer Science at Washington University in St. Louis. Her work focuses on democratizing computer programming through innovative programming tools. Looking Glass is a programming environment designed for ages 10 and up that serves as a platform for exploring how kids can learn programming even when they lack access to a teacher and classroom context. It includes tools for interactively exploring the execution history, capturing and sharing reusable snippets of code, and generating puzzles from shared code. Caitlin completed her doctorate at Carnegie Mellon University working with Professor Randy Pausch. She is the recipient of an NSF CAREER award, a Sloan Fellowship, and several best paper awards.

Mark Sherman recently joined the MIT App Inventor team after completing his University of Massachusetts Lowell doctoratal dissertation "Detecting Student Progress during Programming Activities by Analyzing Edit Operations on their Blocks-based Programs". As a member of the UMass Lowell Engaging Computing Group, he worked on several projects involving App Inventor, and has been an MIT Master Trainer for many years.