Current Trends in On-line Games for Teaching Programming Concepts to Primary School Students

Conference paper
Part of the Communications in Computer and Information Science book series (CCIS, volume 993)


In this paper current trends in online educational games for teaching programming concepts, or else computational thinking, to primary school students are analyzed. Specifically, several online games such as CodeMonkey, Getcoding, Kodable, Lightbot, Program Your Robot, Rapid Router and Run Marco are briefly presented. This is followed by a comparative analysis of important features both regarding the game mechanics and their educational aspects. Specifically, the following features are analyzed: the genre and the scenario of the game, game mechanics used for entertainment purposes, programming concepts/constructs supported, the support provided by the editor for implementing programs, testing and debugging facilities. Moreover, enhanced features, such as the support for creating on-line classrooms, monitoring students’ progress and capabilities of creating new levels in the game are investigated. Conclusions and open-issues for further research in the field are presented.


Educational games Programming Computational thinking Online programming games 


  1. 1.
    Combéfis, S., Beresnevičius, G., Dagienė, V.: Learning programming through games and contests: overview, characterisation and discussion. Olympiads Informat. 10(1), 39–60 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Fesakis, G., Serafeim, K.: Influence of the familiarization with “scratch” on future teachers’ opinions and attitudes about programming and ICT in education. In: Proceedings of the 14th Annual ACM SIGCSE Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education (ITiCSE 2009), Paris, France, 6–8 July, 2009, vol. II, pp. 258–262. ACM, New York (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Malliarakis, C., Satratzemi, M., Xinogalos, S.: Educational games for teaching computer programming. In: Karagiannidis, C., Politis, P., Karasavvidis, I. (eds.) Research on e-Learning and ICT in Education, pp. 87–98. Springer, New York (2014). Scholar
  4. 4.
    Zaharija, G., Mladenović, S., Boljat, I.: Introducing basic programming concepts to elementary school children. Procedia-Soc. Behav. Sci. 106, 1576–1584 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Piteira, M., Haddad, S.R.: Innovate in your program computer class: an approach based on a serious game. In: Proceedings of the 18th ACM Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education, ITiCSE, 13 July, pp. 49–54 (2011)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Xinogalos, S., Satratzemi, M.: Introducing novices to programming: a review of teaching approaches and educational tools. In: Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Education and Information Systems, Technologies and Applications (EISTA 2004), Orlando, Florida, USA, 21–25 July 2004, vol. 2, pp. 60–65 (2004)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Xinogalos, S., Satratzemi, M., Malliarakis, C.: Microworlds, games, animations, mobile apps, puzzle editors and more: what is important for an introductory programming environment? Educ. Inf. Technol. 22(1), 145–176 (2017). Scholar
  8. 8.
    Xinogalos, S., Satratzemi, M., Dagdilelis, V.: An introduction to object-oriented programming with a didactic microworld: objectKarel. Comput. Educ. 47(2), 148–171 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Xinogalos, S.: Using flowchart-based programming environments for simplifying programming and software engineering processes. In: Proceedings of 4th IEEE EDUCON Conference, Berlin, Germany, 13–15 March 2013, pp. 1313–1322. IEEE Press (2013)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Kazimoglu, C., Kiernan, M., Bacon, L., Mackinnon, L.: Learning programming at the computational thinking level via digital game-play. Procedia Comput. Sci. 9(2012), 522–531 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Kazimoglu, C., Kiernan, M., Bacon, L., Mackinnon, L.: A serious game for developing computational thinking and learning introductory computer programming. Procedia – Soc. Behav. Sci. 47, 1991–1999 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Malliarakis, C., Satratzemi, M., Xinogalos, S.: Designing educational games for computer programming: a holistic framework. Electron. J. e-Learn. 12(3), 281–298 (2014)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Vahldick, A., Mendes, A.J., Marcelino, M.J.: A review of games designed to improve introductory computer programming competencies. In: Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE), pp. 1–7. IEEE (2014)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Laporte, L., Zaman, B.: Informing content-driven design of computer programming games: a problems analysis and a game review. In: Proceedings of the 9th Nordic Conference on Human Computer Interaction (NordiCHI 2016), p. 10, Article 61. ACM, New York (2016).
  15. 15.
    Malliarakis, C., Satratzemi, M., Xinogalos, S.: CMX: the effects of an educational MMORPG on learning and teaching computer programming. IEEE Trans. Learn. Technol. 10(2), 219–235 (2017). Scholar
  16. 16.
    Becker, T.: The character of successful trainings with serious games. Int. J. Emerg. Tech. Learn. (IJET) 5(SI3) (2010). Accessed 17 Apr 2012
  17. 17.
    Giannakoulas, A., Xinogalos, S.: A pilot study on the effectiveness and acceptance of an educational game for teaching programming concepts to primary school students. Educ. Inf. Technol. 23, 2029–2052 (2018). Scholar
  18. 18.
    Kiernan, M., Kazimoglu, C., Bacon, L., Mackinnon, L.: Developing an educational game to support cognitive learning. Compass: J. Learn. Teach. 5(9) (2014)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Kalovrektis, K.: Getcoding for Everyone - The First Steps in the World of the Code (2015). ISBN 978-960-93-6991-6Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Barnes, T., et al.: Game2learn: a study of games as tools for learning introductory programming concepts. In: Proceedings of the ACM Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE) (Paper No. 7). ACM, New York (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Malliarakis, C., Satratzemi, M., Xinogalos, S.: Integrating learning analytics in an educational MMORPG for computer programming. In: Proceedings of the 14th IEEE International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies (IEEE ICALT), Athens, Greece, 7–9 July 2014, pp. 233–237. IEEE Computer Society Press (2014)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Applied InformaticsUniversity of MacedoniaThessalonikiGreece

Personalised recommendations