Technology for Learners

Professor: Karin Forssell

Course Description:

How can we use technology to improve learning? Many hope that technology will make learning easier, faster, or accessible to more learners. This course explores a variety of tools designed for learning, the theories behind them, and the research that tests their effectiveness.

First class notes:


Followup on notes:

TPACK – Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) is a framework to understand and describe the kinds of knowledge needed by a teacher for effective pedagogical practice in a technology enhanced learning environment. TPACK consists of 7 different knowledge areas: (i) Content Knowledge (CK), (ii) Pedagogical Knowledge (PK), (iii) Technology Knowledge (TK), (iv) Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK), (v) Technological Content Knowledge (TCK), (vi) Technological Pedagogical Knowledge (TPK), and (vii) Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK). All of these knowledge areas are considered within a particular contextual framework.

Ed Surge – news about EdTech

First assignment: Introduce Yourself and then include 2 interesting things about yourself and 1 lie…. here’s mine:

Hello everyone,

I come from São Paulo, Brazil but have studied all my life in American and British schools… lived for a year in Italy when I was 11-12 yrs old when my father, crazy architect, went for a sabbatical year there to study his spherical apartments urbanist project and to get to know our roots better.

I then decided to go for an Industrial Engineering degree at Rensselaer (Troy, NY) instead of Cinematography… I always loved the integration of Arts and Technology. While in college, the “www” version of the internet came out and I loved it – started to learn HTML and a bit of Unix – just enough to get by and set up my own web sites.

After I graduated I started working for a software company where I got my first taste of designing interfaces and thinking about how to make it easier and less error prone interfaces.

I then went back to Brazil and started working at a content portal being responsible for implementing their WAP offering. It was the start of my career with mobile devices. I then went on to work for a cell phone carrier, and then a mobile content integrator.

Tired of the unsustainable business model in place, I went to NYU to get a Masters called Interactive Telecommunications Program – a 2 year exploration of art with technology – hardware, software and design.

Inspired by it, I went back to Brasil again and started a small school and mobile development shop called “Interactive Arts Institute (Links to an external site.)” which in short comes out to be “iai”. Put a question mark (iai?) and in Portuguese it can be read as a generic question such as “and then?” – so the tag line is “iai? how does it work”. We focused on teaching mobile app development, app design and programming for children. The dev shop has been closed down since I moved here – high stress, high costs, high maintenance.

SO – enough about me – this course is probably the best synthesis of why I am here at LDT:

My biggest problem at iai? was to get the teacher to produce the course material – and when I did, the outcome was terrible. So I want to focus on creating tools that aid teachers in the content creation process, coaching them along the way as well as providing easier tools to edit videos, sync them with notes, slides and other media.

Two truths and a lie – wish they were all true 🙂

1. I’ve crossed the Atlantic Ocean twice on a sailboat

2. I rode a motorcycle from NYC to São Paulo

3. I flew a fighter jet in Russia”


We also had to read the National Education Technology Plan and “Post one paragraph here in this discussion about what idea in the plan you see as the most critical need that technology can help meet, and why that is important to do”

Here’s mine (with a bonus of a reply from Sherry)

Content is key to education; without it, nothing happens. To create it, teachers need better and easier tools. To do it well, better knowledge on how. Technology is both the instrument to learn and the tool to work with.

It has a fundamental role in meeting the need for having a “teaching force skilled on online instruction”. It is essential for content acquisition, content creation, and content publication. It is the mechanism to massively increase digital literacy, improve professional development, and reduce the technology understanding gap that seems to exist today.

The largest possible number of teachers have to be exposed to the latest strategies, methodologies and theories that are working best and be able to implement them on their own microcosm with ease. They will use technology to learn  how to teach with technology. Convincing arguments and hard evidence will have to be shown to get their acceptance and engagement in the adaptation and evolution of their teaching methodologies and student interactions.

Technology has to be seen by them as a solution and not an obstacle or extra bureaucracy.

Without them, the plan fails.

Sherry Li

Just to play devil’s advocate a little bit – with access to content comes the other edge of the sword, which is too much content. I think we’re having that problem right now. There’s a lot of content out there teachers can use, but it’s hard to know what is the best one or even the right one for a particular audience. So, question for you: do you think there needs to be some kind of standardization of content, in such a way that a teacher knows to use XYZ video for a particular class instead of spending hours finding the right one?

Finally – my notes on the NETP

Intro to Teaching

Professor: Sarah Wischnia

Course Description:

This course is designed for Master’s candidates who have little or no background in teaching but who are likely to enter positions in which they need to understand key concepts related to learning and teaching. The primary goal of this course will be to open up the “black box” of teaching and look into it analytically


Our first assignment was to shortly describe what we hoped for by attending this class:

“I hope to understand the basic principles behind teaching with this class – the real basic theories, what has been done and what can be improved.
I will be looking at it through the lens of a teacher and school director. I have a small school in Brazil ( that teaches mobile app development, UI design for mobile and programming for kids. I set up the courses but had only intuition as my basis to formulate the courses.
With this course I hope to be able to look at our course format and judge how effective they are and hopefully be able to improve them.”
In class notes:

Topics in Brazilian Education

This class is going to be a great history lesson from me. My knowledge in Brazilian history is astoundingly small since studied all my life in American and British schools.

Professors: Eric Bettinger, Paulo Blikstein, Martin Carnoy

“The objective of this seminar is to provide students from different backgrounds an opportunity to learn about current issues and debates on Brazilian education. The seminar will cover topics on the history of Brazilian education; an overview of current school reforms at the federal level; educational assessments; education and economic growth; educational equity; teacher labor market; technology and education; early childhood; and higher education to Brazil.”

We started out with Anisio Teixeira and the “Escola Nova  movement with the article: Manifesto dos Pioneiros da Educação Nova

Let the readings begin!


Lunch with Denis

On Monday we had lunch with Denis Mizne, Lemann Foundation’s CEO, with the other Fellows to hear about what is going on, what are the projects that are succeeding and to answer questions we might have.

Rainbow Groceries

Today we took a “field trip” to San Francisco and went to Rainbow Grocery. My wife has been studying Raw and Functional food for the past years but we had never seen anything like this. The sheer variety of brands, products, and variations is humbling.

Well – like almost everything else around here.

We arrived only a week ago and so far, all of my expectations have been surpassed… not to mention what I didn’t know even existed, like Wag Hotels 🙂


Computer History Museum Visit

IMG_0044To be able to be where the foundations of the computer revolution was made is such an honor. The technological world as we know it today was pretty much invented here, created here and manufactured here.

As you arrive at the museum, you see the future, being used in the present time – the Tesla Recharging Stations. Electric cars have made it to stores and very very soon, self-driving cars will also be available for general use. The future is arriving faster and faster.

During our guided visit, we were asked to choose a person we knew well and look/experience the museum as they would – as a learner – so that we could then reflect upon how we could make the experience better.

I was thinking of my father since he’s always fascinated with how fast things are advancing and how humans are able to discover new things and build upon them. Here are my thoughts:

  1. Noise – the museum is quite noisy and there were several other groups being led by the staff making it quite hard to hear what our guide was saying.
    • An App could solve that – you connect to your guide’s audio and put on your headphones. Along with that, the App could show relevant and additional information about what we were looking at.
  2. Interactivity – or the lack of it – I felt there was too much reading to be done and very few charts, diagrams, animations or videos explaining what we were seeing
    • I would suggest quick videos demonstrating the computers in action, showing what they were meant to do or even touch screens to simulate use, speed or any other characteristic of the machine.
    • For each area I would also create some introductory content to help contextualize what the visitor is about to see. For those with little knowledge about the history and evolution of computers, most of it might seem meaningless; they might not able to appreciate the impact and importance of what is being displayed.
  3. Software – we are all now very familiar with Apps, user interfaces and so on… I felt that there was little towards showing how the old computer’s screens looked like, presented information and accepted user input.
    • I believe that would’ve made the experience a lot more informative as well as showing just how much the UI and UX has evolved.

Compass Exercise – first homework!

We were asked to fill out the Compass Exercise, meant to give out a little information about ourselves, our past experiences and goals for this year. The content of this document is expected to change during the year as we progress in this great journey. Here’s mine:

Past Trajectory

American school in São Paulo: 6 yrs -> British School in Milan: 1 yr ->
British School in São Paulo: 5 yrs -> Industrial & Mgmt Eng. at RPI: 4 yrs ->
Software consultant at AMS, NYC: 2 yrs -> Sailboat Miami to Ilha Bela, Brazil: 1 yr ->
WAP project manager at Zip.Net / Telesp Celular in São Paulo: 2 yrs ->
VAS Coordinator at Oi, Rio de Janeiro: 2 yrs -> Video Editing in Rio de Janeiro: 1 yr -> Brazilian Director, São Paulo: 4 yrs -> Masters at ITP, NYU: 2 yrs ->
Founded Interactive Arts Institute, São Paulo: 6 yrs

Career Aspirations 

I am torn between pursuing something new here in the US and going back to Brasil to expand my school. I am tending strongly towards staying here and manage the school remotely. Hopefully I’d be able to apply what I learn here to grow and expand the business but I know that  if I do not get a business partner, it might be hard to take it to the next level.

I’ve always wanted to apply new educational methods, technologies and techniques to the courses we offer but the software development side of the business always stole all of my attention. I also never felt that I had enough understanding about teaching, learning and the available technologies for education to be able to implement something interesting. I did not want to simply publish videos online and sell them. I tried, but I found it hard to get the professors to cooperate in the creation of the content.

So my main aspiration is to understand what tools I could use to facilitate educational content publication. Not only making easier tools for teachers, but also coaching them throughout the process, prompting them for more content and making it easy for them to publish content that is both interesting and easily referred to later on, depending on the student’s preferred learning style. So I guess my ideal job would be at a company who develop CMSs, LMSs and other tools and mechanisms for the purpose of making it easier to share knowledge across the world.

Goals for 2015 – 2016

  1. Learn the lay of the land – understand what technologies are available, what has been done, tested, failed or is succeeding, and what kind of jobs and opportunities exist in this field
  2. Network: meet as many people as possible from all fields to find out what kind of jobs are out there, what people are doing and who could I potentially work with in the future
  3. California lifestyle: get back in shape, stay healthy, eat well and get the most of what California has to offer.
  4. Be a sponge: absorb the most information possible, learn about topics I have never heard of and listen… and listen… and learn.

Stanford – here we go!


So we are finally here… it was long year in the making… preparing my school to work without me, leaving everything behind and in order was tough but now it’s done!

We arrived on the 10th of Sept and I must say that all my expectations have been surpassed… we were worried about the off-campus subsidized housing we were going to get but upon arrival we realized we were completely wrong – the apt is amazing…

School is amazing – apart from the fact that is absolutely gorgeous – everyone you meet is interesting, interested, happy and honored to be here.

The food is unbelievably fresh, organic and tasteful!

It’s going to be a hell of a ride!!