[Etoys] some comments

Alan Kay alan.kay at squeakland.org
Mon Aug 27 09:39:23 EDT 2007

Scratch, besides being a very neat "other system 
for kids" in Squeak, also has really fabulous 
documentation, website, etc. They have done so many things so well!

Mitchel and I talked a lot about this in the 
offsite that our two groups have each year (held last week).

We also discussed the big differences between 
having great documentation and having great curriculum materials.

There are also important differences between a 
productively environment (Scratch is aimed at 
productivity) and an educational one (EToys is more aimed in this direction).

Kathleen Harness from U of Illinois is a teacher 
who has done lots of great documentation for 
Etoys and is currently doing a large amount of stuff for the OLPC version.

One thing that could help from this list is for 
people to submit scenarios of how they think the 
out of the box experience should take place.



At 09:43 PM 8/26/2007, Mel Chua wrote:
>Adam Hyde from FLOSSmanuals.net has offered 
>FLOSSmanual's services (and manpower) for making 
>documentation for OLPC software - wants to do 
>highly-graphical, minimally-verbal (and 
>therefore easy to internationalize) manuals for 
>XO stuff. I suggested Etoys as a good first 
>start, largely because of this and similar 
>mailing list threads; there's a lot of 
>information out there but no starter walkthrough 
>to get people comfortable playing with everything on their own.
>Is anyone on this list interested in putting 
>their notes & materials into such a "quickstart 
>manual"? Any suggestions for people to ping?
>On 8/27/07, Paulo Drummond 
><<mailto:ptdrumm at terra.com.br>ptdrumm at terra.com.br> wrote:
>On Aug 26, 2007, at 10:07 PM, Bill Kerr wrote:
>>On 8/25/07, carla gomez monroy 
>><<mailto:carla at laptop.org> 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 
>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:
>>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 <http://laptop.org>laptop.org's 
>[Community-news] that the Etoys dev team has 
>started a discussion about this issue.
>— paulo
>>Bill Kerr
>>Etoys mailing list
>><mailto:Etoys at lists.laptop.org>Etoys at lists.laptop.org
>Etoys mailing list
><mailto:Etoys at lists.laptop.org>Etoys at lists.laptop.org
>Etoys mailing list
>Etoys at lists.laptop.org
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