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Crowdfunding for children’s programming language Hedy

The easy-to-learn programming language Hedy is a huge worldwide success. To develop the language further, Felienne Hermans, associate professor at the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science (LIACS), started a crowdfunding.

Hedy was introduced to make programming more accessible for children. ‘There was a big gap between Scratch, the block-based language to introduce children to programming, and real programming languages like Python,’ Hermans explains. ‘To be successful in Python, you have to know all the syntax rules and apply them correctly, which is challenging and causes a lot of frustration when you get errors without understanding the mistake you made. Instead of introducing all rules at once, Hedy starts off easy, without many rules, and gradually introduces them as users grow more advanced.’ 

Half a million programs

A lot of children started using the language soon after its introduction in March 2020. Only shortly after its first birthday, Hedy reached the mile stone of half a million programs made in the language. ‘Hedy is already used worldwide to teach programming in schools,’ Hermans says. ‘Next to schools in Leiden and Amsterdam, Hedy is also used in schools in the UK, Brazil and South-Africa.’ 
A contributing factor to the global expansion of Hedy are the many languages the program has become available in. Apart from the Dutch and English version, Hedy has been translated into French, German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese, and a Chinese version is currently being developed.

Future plans

Hermans has ambitious plans for the future and started a crowdfunding to realize them. Hermans: ‘Hedy is free to use and open-source, which means that everyone can add to the program. As we have seen that the program is a huge success, we want to develop and expand it. Our plans include adaptive levelling, which means that the program moves along with the skills of the children, the translation of Hedy in more languages, to make it available to even more children, and the development of more levels and lessons, in order to learn children more about all features that come with programming.’

More information?

If you want to know more about Hedy or try it yourself, visit the website. If you want to make a donation and help to enable kids around the world to learn programming for free, visit the crowdfunding on the site of SteunLeiden.

Text: Chris Flinterman

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