In today’s digital age, computational thinking and learning to code are essential skills that every school or district should consider for their curriculum, starting as early as elementary school. With the ongoing advancement of technology and its increased reliance on the current workforce, the need for those with solid coding skills has multiplied. Interest in teaching coding or other similar subjects among students and educators has also risen quickly, leading to the emergence of many online coding programs.
In this review, we’ll compare two of the top online coding for kids programs for schools – Tynker and Scratch – to assist you in determining which program may be the better choice to introduce to your school’s curriculum. This article will compare these two platforms side-by-side, focusing on their significant features, curriculum, pricing, and final recommendation.
Tynker: Coding for Kids Program for Schools Overview:
Tynker also provides schools with various learning management tools, including classroom management, single sign-on, rostering, co-teaching, automatic assessments and a dashboard that allows educators and administrators to manage student accounts and track usage. In addition to its curriculum and administrative tools, Tynker offers a range of professional development and support options for teachers, including live webinars, certification programs, a dedicated support staff, and a community of like-minded educators who share ideas and best practices. With more than 100,000 schools using Tynker, it is one of the most trusted coding education platforms for kids offering a range of solutions tailored to every child’s needs.
Scratch: Coding for Kids Program for Schools Overview:
Scratch is an online community and visual programming language built on a block coding system. It makes coding accessible and fun for children, allowing them to develop their coding skills while creating animations, games, and interactive stories. Scratch is a free platform that has become popular among educators and students worldwide, with its simplified app version, ScratchJR, catering to children as young as five years old. The platform encourages problem-solving and logical-thinking skills in children by providing a simple user interface that enables them to create digital stories, games, and animations without learning complex syntax. Scratch is available in over 70 languages and is supported by the Scratch Foundation, which offers resources for educators, including lesson plans and a community of teachers.
Scratch provides a step-by-step introduction to Scratch. The starting guide includes a range of lesson plans and project ideas for teachers to use in the classroom. The curriculum guide helps teachers introduce coding concepts gradually, starting with simple animations and games and building up to more complex projects. Overall, Scratch provides a comprehensive range of resources and support materials for teachers who want to use Scratch in the classroom. Whether you’re a new teacher just getting started with coding or an experienced educator looking to take your Scratch projects to the next level, the Scratch website for educators has something for everyone.
Scratch vs. Tynker — Curriculum Differences:
Tynker has over 1,600 contact hours of standards-aligned curriculum available for K-12, making it easier for teachers with no prior computer science background to get trained quickly and teach coding to their students. However, Scratch does not offer a curriculum and can only be a great tool if you have a team of curriculum developers and computer science teachers on staff who can create a curriculum for your school.
Tynker and Scratch both offer a free development environment where users freely experiment, create, and learn without restrictions, fostering creativity and problem-solving skills. In Tynker, this is called the Tynker Workshop.
Tynker has a robust online community of creators. This community is beneficial because it provides a supportive environment for learners to collaborate, share ideas, and showcase their projects. This interaction fosters creativity, problem-solving, and critical thinking while allowing students to develop essential communication and teamwork skills. Moreover, the community encourages engagement and motivation by celebrating achievements and providing constructive feedback. In Tynker, community access can be deactivated by the school or district administrators (unlike Scratch), offering an additional level of control.
Detailed Feature Comparison:
|Grade Levels||Pre K-12+||Pre K-8|
|Computer Science Curriculum||1000+ hours with 4000+ learning modules||No structured curriculum|
|Mobile Apps||Tynker Junior (“Icon-based” coding)Tynker (Block-based coding)Mod Creator for Minecraft (Block-based Minecraft coding)||ScratchJR app for the pre-readersMobile browser view-only support for block coding|
|Accessibility for non-CS teachers||Yes, can be trained via onboarding and community||Yes, can be taught through community|
|Lesson materials for teachers||Thousands of grade-specific and self-paced K-12 coding curriculum materialsAutomated gradebook and assessments for teachers to track mastery progressEasy classroom management tools to create classrooms, import students, and track metricsInstant access to quizzes, DIY projects, and puzzle solutionsCCSS, CSTA, and ISTE framework inclusion||Educator Guide library to help prepare and run Scratch classesCreative Computing Curriculum with ideas, strategies, and activities for introductory level computing experiences“Scratch in Practice (SiP)” features ideas and materials from Scratch team & educators“Teach with Scratch “Facebook group to connect with teachers|
|Single Sign On||Google, Clever, Microsoft, Apple, Classlink, Canvas||None|
|LMS Integrations and more||Google Classroom, Apple Schoolwork, Clever, Classlink, CSV Bulk upload, Canvas LTI||None|
|Lesson Authoring Tools||Educators can create new lessons with voice over instructions and tutorials.||None|
|Training and Personal Development||5-day 40 hour educator training curriculumWeekly webinars and free trainingBlue Ribbon Educator program||ScratchEdCommunity forums|
|Compliant with privacy laws||COPPA, FERPA, Students Privacy Pledge, CA CCPA, GDPR. Supports DPAs for every school as required.||US Standard Compliance|
|Alignment with Standards||ISTE, CSTA, Various State-level CS Standards, AP CSA, AP CSP, National Curriculum UK, Common Core, NGSS and NCSSS.||N/A – without curriculum|
|Support||Forum and communityTwitter and Facebook24-Hour Email SupportLive Chat (coming soon)||Community only|
|Remote Communication Features for Distanced Classrooms||Remote/virtual classroomsVirtual lesson assignment and progress monitoringClassroom streaming to broadcast tips, answer questions one-on-one or to the whole classRemote project collaboration with groups of kidsRole-based dashboards for district administrators, teachers, students, and parentsCo-teaching ability with specific permissions||Remote/virtual classroomsSingle teacher access per classroomVirtual lesson assignment and progress monitoring|
School Checklist Comparison:
|Classroom Live Broadcasting||✅||⛔|
|Google Classroom Integration||✅||⛔|
|Contractual Data Privacy Protection||✅||⛔|
Which Should You Choose for Your School?
Tynker and Scratch are online coding platforms with some form of an offering for schools and educators. Scratch has been around since 2007 and has become a go-to for many schools due to its free access, simplistic block-based coding system, and community-focused resource sharing. However, its lack of a structured curriculum, dedicated support, and reliance on the community for resource development positions it as a more entry-level program.
Tynker, launched in 2012, is the more robust choice for schools. Tynker’s curriculum is structured and comprehensive, making it easier for teachers to integrate into new or existing lesson plans. Tynker’s classroom tools are also more robust and user-friendly, providing access from students to administrators to monitor development and seamlessly incorporate them into popular classroom tools. Finally, Tynker’s unique course offerings, such as LEGO ® WeDo robotics, micro:bit coding, Artificial Intelligence, and AP Computer Science, are a unique selling point that sets it further apart from its competitors.
Tynker offers unparalleled versatility compared to Scratch, empowering teachers to craft their own unique lessons. For educators experienced with Scratch, they’ll be delighted to discover how seamlessly they can transition their existing lessons to Tynker, unlocking a world of new possibilities for their students. Additionally, Tynker is designed with a user-friendly interface, allowing virtually any educator to start using it with their students immediately. In contrast, Scratch often demands training and a time investment that the average educator may not have at their disposal.
In conclusion, finding the perfect coding platform for your classroom necessitates a comprehensive investigation into various options, considering your school’s specific needs and goals. As you weigh the merits of Scratch, Tynker, or any other online platform, consider factors such as ease of use, available resources, and the platform’s adaptability to different learning styles.
Incorporating coding into your curriculum is vital for developing students’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Creating a coding-friendly environment with Tynker gives students valuable tools for academic and professional success. Coding enhances creativity, collaboration, and resilience, preparing students for a rapidly changing world. Explore and select the ideal platform for your school and students.