Greenfoot: transforming the way programming is taught

Love to Learn sign

Pedagogical and technical research at the University of Kent has developed Greenfoot, a software system to support the learning of programming at school level (age 13 upwards).

Since August 2013, over 3.4 million students have learned programming through Greenfoot at school, in after school clubs and workshops, and privately at home. It has helped to raise the profile of programming in schools and outside, in more than 49 countries.

The research has had impact on a variety of stakeholders, including pupils, teachers, those involved in national curriculum development and software industry. It is one of very few systems to have this level of impact on programming education internationally which can be seen using the tracking map which shows active Greenfoot users around the world.

“I get more enthusiasm teaching Greenfoot than any other aspect of teaching from year 7 to year 13. I believe that the reason my GCSE programme is so popular is due to what we teach in year 9. Out of 135 students in a year group, 63 have opted for Computer Science next year.”

– Sharon Corkery | Sutton Grammar School | UK

The system, developed by Professor Michael Kolling from the School of Computing, gets students programming right from the start. They can develop animated graphical projects such as simple computer games within the first day. By having fun, being creative and getting quick results they are motivated to learn. This can really change a student’s attitude to computer science and encourage them to explore further.

The Greenfoot project has two strands: pedagogical research and technical computer science research. The project group at the University of Kent carried out research in both areas, including the development of new interaction techniques to support the learning of programming, the design and implementation of the software, and the additional research regarding the usability and effectiveness of the resulting system.


[1] Kölling, M. (2010). “The Greenfoot Programming Environment”. ACM Transactions on Computing Education (TOCE), 10(4):1-21.
[2] Utting, I., Cooper, S., and Kölling, M., Maloney, J., Resnick, M. (2010). “Alice, Greenfoot, and Scratch – A Discussion”. ACM Transactions on Computing Education (TOCE), 10(4):1-11.