Oops. Apple goofed.
Last week, Apple did something that created outrage among educators and parents—one of their most important customer segments.
Apple banned the use of a $3.95 iPhone app called Scratch Viewer. Scratch Viewer would have let teachers, parents, and young kids view the 1 million applications that young kids all over the globe have created over the last three years using Scratch.
Scratch is a kid-friendly free programming environment which was developed at the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab, based on the work of Seymour Papert and Alan Kay. Mitchel Resnick, the director of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at MIT, had this to say to reporters and on the Scratch blog:
“We're disappointed that Apple decided not to allow a Scratch player on the iPhone or iPad (as part of Apple's policy against apps that interpret or execute code). As we see it, there is nothing more important than empowering the next generation of kids to design, create, and express themselves with new media technologies. That's the idea behind Scratch. Kids around the world are using Scratch to program their own interactive stories, games, animations, and simulations with Scratch—and sharing their creations with one another online. In the process, kids learn to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively. Since the launch of Scratch in 2007, kids have shared nearly 1 million projects on the Scratch website. We hope that Apple will reconsider its policies so that more kids can experience the joys of creating and sharing with Scratch. (By the way, the Scratch player for the iPhone was created by a third party, not by our group at the MIT Media Lab. But our group is planning to make Scratch authoring tools for the iPad in the future, and we hope Apple will allow us....)”
Faithful Outside Innovation followers will recognize Mitch Resnick as one of the heroes in the LEGO Mindstorms’ NXT story. Mitch has been engaging kids as co-inventors at MIT since the early 1980s. He and Steve Ocko were the grad students who connected computers to LEGOs so that young kids could use Seymour Papert’s LOGO language to make their LEGO creations come alive.