[IAEP] etoys initial usability compared with scratch

Bill Kerr billkerr at gmail.com
Sun Jan 4 11:45:04 EST 2009

It takes a long time to train teachers to use Etoys who have never used
a computer before. Etoys _requires_ mastery of the touchpad and that was
more than we could teach in 2 weeks of training. Dragging and dropping
is a non-trivial skill.

I think we can train teachers familiar w/ computers how to use Etoys.
Unfortunately, 95% of the teachers we deal and will deal w/ are not very
familiar w/ computers.

This is one of the major differences b/w Nepal's deployments and those
of more developed countries like Uruguay

I presume the same thing applies to Javascript and Flash that uses
drag and drop?

It is does if you require a lot of dragging-and-dropping together w/
right-clicking. For example, our teachers got the hang of Draw during
training but they struggled w/ Etoys. They could do
point-click-activities like GCompris, E-Paath, Maze, etc. w/out a

If you did a usability study comparing the etoys interface with the scratch
interface you'll find that scratch provides for a much easier startup

This includes the touchpad issue (eg. in etoys you have to draw and keep a
sprite before you can begin to program) but also there are many other
factors which makes scratch easier to use for a beginner

    * colour coding of different function
    * all the function areas are visible to start with
    * clear physical separation of blocks palette from scripting area from
    * easier, more intuitive to see how blocks fit together

I recently had a collaborative session with some xos and was introduced to
the excellent etoys collaborative features (etoys chat and ability to pass
scripted objects b/w users). These are great. I'm just arguing here about
the getting started features which have impacted on the Nepal teacher
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