As usual, I gave this application a workout without seeking help from a manual or anything like that – which is just as well because there does not seem to be a comprehensive manual.
An advantage of J2Code as a whole over 2Code is that it covers the age range from Key Stage 1 (5-6 year olds) to Key Stage 3 (13-14 year olds).
In JIT5, you can see the code being generated as you do things with a sprite, so the pupils can see a direct and immediate link between their actions and the resulting underlying code. But at this level there appears to be no way of changing the code first in order to see what actions will result.
Turning to the LOGO module, you can edit the code directly to see the effect on the screen turtle. This is great because it means you can, to get started, generate code by clicking on the icons, seeing what code is generated, and then editing and adding to the code directly.
In many respects this is similar to the approach I always recommend to people starting in Visual Basic for Applications (VBA). In Word or Excel, record a macro that does something approximating what you want to achieve, then delve into the code generated and either customise it according to your requirements, or simply study the code to see how it works.
The Visual component of J2Code is similar to 2Code’s environment. In two respects it is better, at least for older pupils or the teacher, for two reasons:
First, all the code blocks are available to you.
Second, they are grouped into categories like Motion, Text and others, making it easy to find what you are looking for.
“In this iteration at present, the JS is there only as an output, with no direct editing. You also need to be aware that sound and sprite creation (paint tool) will be available in the next few months all this will form part of the free offering to schools.
The benefits of J2Code within the Just2Easy tool suite are that you can share, embed in J2E5 and elsewhere using embed code and publish onto our blogging platform. It also then forms part of a child's eportfolio either separately or as part of a folder of work.” (James Green)
There are starter lesson plans, with notes and accompanying videos, for each of the three modules.
I think where J2Code really does score over 2Code is in its coverage of the whole age range. If you are in an all-through school it could be ideal. Equally, if you collaborate with your feeder or follow-on schools, there would be advantages to be had by each school in the group using J2Code.
This article first appeared in a special Coding edition of Digital Education, the free newsletter for those with a professional interest in educational Computing and ICT. That edition is still available! All you have to do is sign up via our newsletter page. We use a double opt-in system, and you won’t be spammed.