Tech 4 Learners – Week 3 – Learning Technology Evaluation

Learning Technology Evaluation (LTE) Round 1

Tool Evaluated: 

Formative (


Formative offers teachers the ability to create tests or exercises for a group of learners with an intuitive interface and several question format options including images, video, documents and drawing boards.

As the learners are engaged in the activity, the teacher can watch their progress in real time – you see the students typing, drawing or simply submitting a response.

You can interact with them by sending messages to the learner as well as assigning a grade on a cleverly designed scale: 0 to 10, ‘X’ to ‘Checkmark’ and from red to green – all in one element.

The tool aims at facilitating the process of creating, distributing, taking and grading tests with a simple but feature-full interface.


The designers clearly believe that tests are an integral part of learning. Their emphasis though seems to be in the notion that learners can improve their learning by receiving “instant feedback” from the teacher. Seemingly rooted on Vygotsky’s ZPD concept, the designers created a tool that facilitates this interaction between the teacher and the learner.


The designers saw the lack of feedback as a barrier in developing an understanding in the subject matter. Learners could benefit from receiving direct feedback while engaged in the activity.

Another barrier was the difficulty in creating interactive and hopefully more interesting tests and exercises that assess the learners progress. With this in mind they created a tool that made it easy for teachers to incorporate multimedia content in their tests and activities. As a result, for the learners, a more interactive and “rich” test or exercise – hopefully more fun?


Formative’s implementation leverages well the web browser’s HTML 5 advanced  capabilities such as cross-platform compatibility, quasi-realtime connections between teacher and learners, drawing boards and single-page app-like interface.


  • The success of this tool could be measured based on a few criteria:
  • Teacher’s level of satisfaction with the tool
  • Learner’s experience while taking the tests
  • How effective was the “instant feedback” feature
  • How much “instant feedback” actually occurred
  • Compare test results from learners who used the tool versus those who took the same test on paper.

0 – Absent, 1 – Minimal, 2 – Strong, 3 – Exemplary

The tool is making effective use of unique features of this technology
Rating: 0 1 2 3

The tool uses well the browser’s capabilities for user interactions like drawing and single-page app-like interface. Yet I felt a lot more could have been done with the “instant feedback” feature – allow the teacher not only to write a comment but interact with the submitted material – draw on it or record audio feedback for example.

The features of the tool demonstrate an understanding of the target learner.
Rating: 0 1 2 3

The tool demonstrates the understanding that the learner needs/desires feedback from the teacher when taking a test or doing an exercise. Yet the tool seemed to be more targeted towards the needs of the teacher than that of the learner. The learner might see the tool as just another way of doing a test or exercise. For the teachers the benefits seemed to be much greater.

The design of the tool suggests an understanding of the challenges unique to learning the target content.
Rating: 0 1 2 3

The design suggests a very good understanding of the challenges involved in creating a test and the difficulties involved in grading and providing feedback to learners. The tool provides many options as to what kinds of questions and content to create in a friendly, simple and direct manner. The ability to annotate directly on images and text works well, as does the platform as a whole. The design also tries to addresses the difficulty of coaching, giving feedback and addressing the ZPD for a large number of learners at once.

Tech 4 Learners – Week 3 – Class Notes

Class Notes: 


Notes Followup: 

Did a fun exercise with Jesse Harris about getting to know your group… each member writes 2 things he find annoying about people when working in a team and then 2 personal qualities you have. Shuffle the card and pretend you are trying to decide upon the X impersonating the card you got.

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Tech 4 Learners – Homework Week 3 – Go out and Have Fun

Had the fortune of being assigned to a really great group – Soren Rosier and Alexandra Cristea – and our task for this week was to go out and have some fun:

“Get to know your group.  Do something fun together. Create a group name. Submit a note about who your group is and what you did.”

Here’s the result:

What we did

Went to Ray’s and took turns telling our stories and drinking some beer. Stimulating conversation!

Group Name

S.A.L (our initials… also means salt in Portuguese)

What we do
  • We research (Soren), plan (Alex) and implement (Lucas) education technology that causes impact
  • We make a difference, one kid at a time
  • We are an interdisciplinary team searching for solutions for real-world problems

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Tech 4 Learners – Week 3 – Reading Assignment


In-Game, In-Room, In-World: Reconnecting Video Game Play to the Rest of Kids’ Lives
Reed Stevens, Tom Satwicz, Laurie McCarthy (2008)


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“How designers could perhaps leverage the types of interactions in the vignettes to create engaging learning experiences”

I believe kid’s learning experiences can be more engaging if they encourage kids to teach each other, empowers them to ask questions, enables collaboration in the discovery process and offers tasks that are learnable.

In the first vignette we see Rachel getting her information on a need-to-know basis making her experience flow better. In the second vignette Mikey teaches Maddy very efficiently how to use the code correctly. In the third, the boys used their ZPD and pulled each other through the task. In the fourth vignette, modeling was used to teach.

With video games, kids engage in these behaviors naturally and perceive the task of learning as part of the enjoyable task.

“Relevant” learning objectives can be inserted into the already familiar game mechanics of video games in a way that they become challenges within a larger context that the kid is in control of. For example – trigonometry – the in-game character has to built his own bridge to cross a river. To do so he must understand angles and calculate how much material he would need to complete the task.

What stroke me most was the potential learning between the younger and older kids. Perhaps this interaction has not been fully explored yet. Many learning experiences have been designed for the parent-child interaction but maybe not as many have been designed for kid-to-older-kid interactions explicitly. Experiences where kids of varying ages can play/learn/teach together with the explicit goal of showing off what they know and/or learn from each other.

Why not a video game room in the school where teachers act as coaches and facilitators to explore and make evident these positive interactions that lead to learning and sharing knowledge? With careful curation, teachers could potentially find games that illustrate key concepts and encourage the kids to teach each other.

The “kidification” of education 🙂


Tech 4 Learners – Reading, Notes & Response


Wiggin & McTighe’s (1998) Understanding by Design Chapter 1




  • What are the big ideas in this chapter?

The big ideas in this chapter are that you need clear and measurable learning objectives in order to create an effective curriculum. You should start off knowing how you are going to identify the desired outcomes and measure them not only at the end, but during the entire process. Once you know the desired outcomes and how to measure them, you can finally decide how you will deliver and engage the learners in your experience effectively.

  • How do the authors challenge readers to think in new ways about designing for learning?

The challenge the author poses for me in particular lies in thinking as an assessor when designing a course. It does not feel natural to share something I am enthusiastic about in a manner that I must test the knowledge transference as part of my delivery strategy. The natural impulse is to get to the most interesting part of the topic as quickly as possible, laying down only the essential pieces before hand. The risk is loosing those who are not understanding along the way.

To think about how we are going to measure the outcomes of our topic as the leading part of the design process seems counter intuitive to me yet makes complete sense as a strategy.

  • How would this approach change the way designers design learning technologies?

This approach would change completely the way designers design learning technologies in the sense that the cadence of content delivery would have to change. Instead of delivering content through direct-teaching and then testing, the content would have to be reordered to accommodate for continuous evaluation and eventual backtracking to reinforce needed content. The evaluations themselves would not need to be all encompassing final tests but more straight forward check-points along the way. The tools themselves would be adapted to best measure for the desired learning objectives.

For some reason I see this approach much more related to designing a game. My father is always amazed when he sees someone playing a new game on their smartphone. “How do you know what you have to do in those games? How did you learn!?” It just happens right? No. The game designers have to very carefully present information in a way that the gamer/learner will be able to perform the task of playing the game effectively, performing well and with clear and measurable objectives.

How could we incorporate game design practices into education?

In class activity: 

Draw what Technocentrism means to you


Tech4Learners page #0

Tech 4 Learners – Week 2 – Class Notes

Another great class – talked about teachers as designers, assessment, learning styles and the approach towards creating effective learning experiences.

  • User Interface Designers (UI)
  • User Experience Designers (UX)
  • Learning Experience Designers (LX)



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