Etoys is a tile based programming environment for children that was built on Squeak by a team headed by Alan Kay. The child friendly design of the interface was influenced by the education theorist Seymour Papert, who many consider the driving force behind the use of computers in education. If you can use a mouse you can use Etoys.
A vision of Alan Kay and Seymour Papert is that all students should have the opportunity to imagine the future by exploring with the computer today. In many parts of the world that is now a reality. Their vision took on a global perspective in 2006 when Etoys was included on the XO machines in the OLPC project, that now number over 2.4 million around the world.
All school children should have the opportunity to engage with computers in the most meaningful way. Learning to think and using the computer to discover and work with powerful ideas is the knowledge of true value. The community of Etoys users is working toward the dream of having all students become computer literate.
This book only covers a small portion of those items. As you and your students learn some of the basic techniques, you will find more and more uses for them. The process of learning Etoys is just that, a process; the learning is on-going even though projects are begun and finished. Students will enjoy becoming experts and sharing their knowledge with others in the classroom.
Imagine this: A group of learners want to visualize what they Imagine so they go to Etoys to Invent their dreams and Inspire each other by building on their various Etoys projects. Today's learners need this kind of experience to be prepared for the future.
Etoys is supported by a large group of volunteers from all around the globe. If you would like to volunteer, or would like to reach one of the current volunteers, there are two websites you can visit:
which contains links to Etoys groups around the globe and
where you can join the Etoys user mailing list. Please do join us.
How to Use this Book
This book is designed to lead the teacher on a learning path to Etoys. To begin you will need to go to http://squeakland.org and download Etoys. If you need help in downloading the software you can find further directions in the chapter titled Getting Help.
When you open Etoys you will see the following window:
This book's chapters are arranged in a sequential way so that the Etoys knowledge needed builds from one chapter to the next. Idea, tools, tiles and techniques used in each chapter are listed at the beginning of the chapter. If, when looking through a chapter, you find things listed that are not explained in that chapter, you should look back over previous chapters to find when they were first introduced. At the end of each chapter there will be a section called "More Inspirations" which includes ways to enhance the project in the chapter and/or links to similar projects you might want to explore.
Throughout the chapters, there will be references to the built-in Quick Guide help. The Quick Guides are accessed by clicking the question mark icon on the far left side of the Navigation Bar at the top of all Etoys windows.
In Appendix A, Getting Help, there is more information on vocabulary and user tools which you may find helpful as you navigate through the book. Here you will also find links to online sites that have a wealth of information and sample projects.
In Appendix B, Quick Tips, you will find helpful information on loading and saving projects and other useful general knowledge.