[Etoys] some comments

Paulo Drummond ptdrumm at terra.com.br
Mon Aug 27 00:27:34 EDT 2007

On Aug 26, 2007, at 10:07 PM, Bill Kerr wrote:

> On 8/25/07, carla gomez monroy <carla at laptop.org> wrote:
> However, for some people it can be quite intimidating to get a  
> blank screen when they click on "Make A New Project."
> I'm wondering why the first step is always to make a painting - and  
> then when you keep the painting you have an object and can then do  
> more powerful things at that point.

Imho, the first step is to understand a little of this environment  
and what was the idea behind Etoys. Depending on the age/grade, the  
deepness varies. However, the teacher has a crucial role here: to  
understand it first. The book "Powerful Ideas in the Classroom" is of  
enormous value.

The next expected step for a child (in this environment) is to create  
an object. Children usually like to pictorially represent their  
world. They need to express it as they need to situate themselves in  
the surrounding society. Contextualize.

They can also use other predefined objects like ellipses/circles,  
rectangles/squares etc to complement  their painting, or give a more  
"realistic" display of their object-symbols. Conversely, they may use  
the paint palete to "personalize" some geometrical primitives they've  
place in their world.

It has been demonstrated (http://www.squeakcmi.org) that kids at  
initial grades can use Etoys as a starting point to understand it and  
to express their ideas, paving the way to more advanced  
representations using the very same environment.

> A naive user might think it is just a paint program. Also some  
> people don't like painting or are not good at it, eg. me. Also it's  
> hard to paint well with a mouse.

Children can use Etoys as a mapping tool. Actually they don't give a  
penny about accuracy, just because they don't need to. Adults  
generally do, even not knowing a bit of its usefulness.

> Why not have prepackaged sprites which can be loaded immediately  
> (as well as the painting option)? Then the user is one step closer  
> to the more powerful stuff. It also sends a message that it is not  
> just a paint program - there has to be more to it than just loading  
> a sprite
> LogoWriter, MicroWorlds and GameMaker all have prepackaged sprites

Then Squeak Etoys would be another thing. When not-so-young kids need  
a more sophisticated expression-driven, more in the realm of  
productivity authoring tools — with many of the programmatic aspects  
of Etoys, they may go to another great tool: Scratch.

> I have given to the teachers in printed form
>    * powerful ideas in the classroom
> I think *all* of the book, Powerful ideas in the classroom, should  
> be available on the web. The car tutorial on squeakland is great  
> but it's not enough. There are some good pdfs on squeakland too but  
> the site is poorly organised

Afaik, a new squeakland website is in the works.

> and it took me ages to find them. I wrote a blog about the  
> frustrating but eventually successful search for etoy resources here:
> http://billkerr2.blogspot.com/2007/04/frustrating-but-eventually- 
> successful.html
> It would be good to have a comprehensive help manual in one place.  
> Pop up help is good but sometimes more detail is needed. Such a  
> manual would probably be used more by teachers than by students but  
> that is still useful.

I could not agree more. Etoys documentation is really very scarce and  
sparse. With the help of the Squeakland community worldwide, these  
things are starting to show up here and there. It has been posted in  
laptop.org's [Community-news] that the Etoys dev team has started a  
discussion about this issue.

— paulo

> -- 
> Bill Kerr
> http://billkerr2.blogspot.com/
> _______________________________________________
> Etoys mailing list
> Etoys at lists.laptop.org
> http://lists.laptop.org/listinfo/etoys

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