What is Scratch, you might ask? Quite simply, Scratch is an incredible free programming language and online community where kids can create their own interactive stories, games, and animations. Developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten group at MIT Media Lab, Scratch’s mission is to “help young people learn to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively — essential skills for life in the 21st century.”

With millions of children creating nearly 5 million projects in 40 languages in 150 different countries you could say that Scratch is succeeding in its mission.


But teaching kids to code requires the teachers to learn the Scratch software themselves. That’s the challenge that the Huntsville, Alabama school district had. And that’s where Appleton Learning came in.

“A school district actually approached us to make a training video about how to use this software.” notes Nick Wilbourn, Education Specialist at Appleton.

Appleton wanted to make it easy for teachers to gain a mastery of the Scratch software and instruction method. An interactive training video, they thought, could be the best teaching tool for their needs.

Nick Wilbourn


There’s no doubt about it — the best way to learn to code, is to code. Yet most people need a bit of a boost when it comes to learning software like Scratch. Walking them through the first lesson or two is usually just the spark they need to get them off and running.

That’s the magic of interactive video. It’s like having a trainer with you in the room, giving you hints, encouragement, and pausing to ensure you understand what you were just taught.

“We did a screen capture of a user actually using Scratch. We intercut that with scenes of the program playing out,” says Nick. They then used HapYak for adding quiz questions. “Upon answering the question correctly, they (the viewer) proceeded to the next section of the video.” Pop-up bubbles then provided supplementary information to explain technical terms, says Nick.

Creating Interactive Video


Appleton Learning provides training to just individual teachers or schools, but for large school districts.

We’re training a lot of people,” says Nick. “When we get a new contract form a school district, 50-100 students is going to be the minimum. And “in-person training goes out the window” when school districts are far away from Appleton’s Huntsville, Alabama headquarters.


Even though he was using HapYak for the first time, Nick found creating interactive videos to be unique and surprisingly simple. “Its unlike anything I worked with before. Once I spent a few minutes with it I found HapYak to be very simple, very user friendly, and really easy to make edits.”

This is inspiring Nick and his Appleton colleagues to expand their interactive videos to paraprofessionals – educators that assist teachers in the classroom, supervise students outside of the classroom, or provide administrative support for teaching.

“We’re doing interactive training videos with multimedia content that will help train paraprofessionals. (We’re) showing people how to use software, teaching them best practices for working with students, training them on job essentials.”

Appleton has big goals to educate our children, and it’s reflected in employees like Nick who believe in the work that they do.

“I applied to Appleton because I was really drawn to the company’s focus on individualized learning,” as well as their aim to proactively meet the needs of large school districts, he says.

Through the medium of interactive video, Nick and the team at Appleton aim to train those with perhaps the noblest cause in life – educating our children. They aim to get the broad reach that video affords with the personal touch of individualized learning.