The Greenfoot Network:    The Greenroom

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About the Greenroom and sharing

Over the last few years, I have talked to many teachers who use Greenfoot. It is very clear that finding good teaching material, and figuring out the details of how to teach with Greenfoot are the two most common problems of teachers who want to use the software.

This is what the Greenroom tries to address. By providing a platform for discussion, we can ask questions, discuss ideas and get help. By providing a means to share resources, we can share material.

But the idea here goes deeper.

When we opened the first Greenroom it became apparent very quickly that many teachers came to look for material and inspiration, but very few uploaded material.

The problem was not, I found out after talking to many teachers, that they did not have material. In fact, many teachers I met had developed some instructional material of their own.

The problem was that many teachers felt that their material was not polished enough. It encompassed their ideas of teaching, and was good enough to use in their own classroom, but to be shared publicly it would need some more work, some polishing, some completing of lose ends here and there. In short: It was not good enough (in its current state).

And then, of course, there are time pressures. The time to sit down and finish polishing the worksheets never comes, and many good ideas are never shared.

This is an intrinsic problem that cannot be ignored. It is just fact that producing well-developed, polished material takes a lot of time, and that many of us just do not get that time.

The way we tried to address this here is by creating a resource model for the Greenroom where resources are not owned by a single person, but by the community as a whole. Anyone can freely edit any resource. This model is based on trust and assumed a community of like-minded individuals.

The benefit, we hope, is that people can see value in creating resources that are unfinished, containing just the starting point for a resource we - as a community - may want to get to. Maybe it's an unfinished worksheet, maybe just a single idea.

As a community, we have some people who have great new ideas. We have people who have the time to test, improve, complete and polish. But not many people have time to do it all. By working together, each contributing a little, our hope is that we can develop - jointly, over time - a collection of valuable material.

For us as a community this means:

  • If you have material, post it.
  • Don't be shy about posting unfinished material that does not yet "look good".
  • The goal is to build material as a community - you do not have to do it all yourself.
  • Any small contribution you can make - a correction, an addition, a comment - is valuable.
  • The sum of the contributions is what makes a difference, not the size of any single contribution.
  • The community is more than the sum of its members.

Whether this can work or not is an open question. It is a question of culture, not of technology.

As I am writing this, it is a few days before this new Greenroom is opened, so we do not know yet whether this idea will succeed. But it is my sincere hope that we can create a community culture of collaboration and sharing, where any contribution is valued, where hurdles to participation are low, and where we can jointly make a difference to the teaching in many classrooms, creating excitement and joy for many students.

Michael Kölling, Feb 2010


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