Learning Environments – Week 10 – Reading Czars Meeting 1

Met with our professors Shelley Goldman and Roy Pea (via phone) and the other 2 members of the team: Nikita Michael Bogdanov and Cody Oliver Karutz

Talked a little about Freire’s big ideas and how might we propose an activity that will make people think about it, engage with it and come back with ides for a discussion.

We are going to divide the class into smaller groups and hand each group a main idea from the readings. Each group will have to design a school based on this main idea, giving it a name and creating a 2 minute pitch of their idea. Halfway through the process we announce that each school must have a link to one other reading.

Meeting up tomorrow night again to work out the mechanics and topics that we will present.


EdClub – Coursera visit

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The EdClub organized a visit to Coursera – one of the leading edtech companies today – founded by two Stanford professors and now employer of several Stanford graduates. Had lunch at their new offices that now hold around 180 people and growing. Great talk with 4 members of the team – 2 of which have been there from the early days (3 years ago) when there were only around 20 people.

Great talk – very informative – plenty of opportunities.

LDT Seminar – Week 10 – Udemy Interview


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Interviewed two top execs at Udemy today about how might we help experts publish online courses.

Here are the questions and some notes:

In your own words, how would you describe Udemy’s role in the educational market?

  • Strong focus on continuing education content
  • Create high quality content to be able to attend the needs of the learners

What are the biggest challenges it faces in attending to the learner’s needs and goals?

  • Create mind set that learning is something you have to do continuosly.
  • How do we educate people about continuing with their own education.
  • How to install a growth mindset.

What is the relationship between Udemy and the educators who create content?

  • Closer relationship with a few high achieving teachers.
  • Udemy has private discussion groups on Facebook that are very active.

How does the platform scaffold educators to create better courses, besides the Udemy’s courses on the subject?

  • On-boarding
    • Send a test video to see if you’ve got all the settings correct
    • Tips and tricks on the side bars
  • Community of co-creation where they help each other out, peer-review and share techniques
  • Instructor’s handbook: what is the exact sequence for a course depending on the skill level of the student and the subject matter?

How does the course review process work?

  • 1500 reviews a month
  • Secret sauce as to how they do it 🙂

What proportion of courses received have enough technical quality to be accepted?

  • Most courses are rejected sent back for review, because they did not meet the required technical criteria (a/v quality, frame size, etc).
  • Content: no introductory material about what the course is about.

If you had unlimited resources, what features would you implement on Udemy?

  • No specific thing but keep on pushing towards the larger goal of takin

Questions we did not ask:

  • What are the main problems teachers have in using the tool?
  • What are the main problems learners have in using the tool?
  • What are the most popular course categories?

Learning Environments – Week 10 – Reading Notes


“Pedagogy of the Oppressed” Paulo Freire 1972

  • Dehumanization of the opressed
    • False generosity – false charity -> true would be to teach them to work and transform the world
      • “And this fight, because of the purpose given it by the oppressed, will actually constitute an act of love opposing the lovelessness which lies at the heart of the oppressor’s’ violence, lovelessness even when clothed in false generosity.” p. 29
    • “The pedagogy of the oppressed is an instrument for their critical discovery that both they and their oppressors are manifestations of dehumanization.” p. 34
    • For opressor, to be is to have
    • Self-depreciation – internalization of opinion oppressors hold of them.
  • Opressed as opressors
    • Rebel not by becoming the oppressor of the oppressors but rather restorers of humanity of both
      • “In order for this struggle to have meaning, the oppressed must not, in seeking to regain their humanity (which is a way to create it), become in turn oppressors of the oppressors, but rather restorers of the humanity of both” p. 28
    • Their ideal is to be oppressors themselves because that is the world view they are fed – identification with the opposite pole – the context does not change – only roles are changed
      • “Their ideal is to be a man; but for them, to be man is to be oppressor.” p. 30
      • “It is a rare peasant who, once ‘promoted’ to overseer, does not become more of a tyrant toward his former comrades than the owner himself.” p. 46
  • Opressed’s change
    • “In order for the oppressed to be able to wage the struggle for their liberation, they must perceive the reality of oppression not as a closed world from which there is no exit, but as a limiting situation which the can transform” p. 34
    • Only oppressed can make the change – only them can understand what it means to be oppressed
    • Fear of freedom and how it will affect the whole group – everyone has to be on board.
      • “They prefer gregariousness to authentic comrade­ ship; they prefer the security of conformity with their state of unfreedom to the creative communion produced by freedom and even the very pursuit of freedom.” p. 48
    • Fear of authentic existence – responsibilities, decisions, consequences, accountability
      • “They discover that without freedom they cannot exist authentically. Yet, although they desire authentic exis­ tence, they fear it.” p. 48
    • Oppressed must confront reality critically or it will not lead to transformation of objective reality
      • “To achieve this goal, the oppressed must confront reality critically, simultaneously objectifying and acting upon that reality.” p. 52
    • If goal is for the oppressed to become fully human, can’t simply reverse poles
    • Oppressed have to internalize both their image and the oppressor’s in order to be able create true change.
    • Oppressed aspires to the oppressor’s way of life.
  • Pedagogy must be forged with, not for, the oppressed
    • “This book will present some aspects of what the writer has termed the pedagogy of the oppressed, a pedagogy which must be forged with, not for, the oppressed (whether individuals or peoples) in the incessant struggle to regain their humanity.” p .48
    • “Functionally, oppression is domestication” p. 51
    • Educational Projects vs. Systematic Education – With oppressed vs. For the oppressed
  • How this happens
    • Stages of transition:
      1. Oppressed unveil the world of oppression and commits to transformation.
        • Change how oppressed see the world
      2. Pedagogy becomes for for all men
        • Expulsion of myths
    • Oppressor class must disappear
    • Critical reflection must become action
    • Propaganda is packaged and sold – conviction must be reached by a totality of reflection and action.
    • Co-intentional education – oppressors in committed involvement instead of pseudo-participation
  • Banking concept of education
    • Deposits from the ‘oppressors’, who know it all, into the alienated receptacles
    • Negates them of the process of inquiry
    • Welfare recipients
    • Good students fit into the this skewed version of the world – they adapt.
    • Necrophilic – transforms the students into receiving objects inhibiting their creative power.
  •  Conscientização
    • Interest of oppressors lies in changing the consciousness of the oppressed, not the situation with opresses them (critical thinking would do that)
    • Person is merely in the world, not with the world – not a corpo consciente
    • “Liberating education consist in acts of cognition, not transferals of information”
  • Content relevance to real life – socal learning
    • “Authentic thinking, thinking that is concerned about reality, does not take place in ivory tower isolation, but only in communication.” (Legitimate Peripheral Participation)
    • Teacher-students and student-teachers. “The teacher is no longer merely one-who-teaches, but one who is himself taught in dialogue with the students, who in turn while being taught also teach.“
    • Joint responsibility of learning and growing together.
    • “Education as a practice of freedom – as opposed to education as the practice of domination.”

Intro to Teaching – Week 10 – Reading Notes

Cohen, D. K. (1990). A revolution in one classroom: The case of Mrs. Oublier. Educational Evaluation and Policy. 12(3). 311-329.

Rereading – Mrs. Oublie was also assigned as a reading in Qualitative Research 🙂 Interesting to read it with a different lens.

  • Something old, something new: missinterpretations of policy lead to partial teaching practice change.
    • “Is Mrs. O’s mathematical revolution a story of progress, or of confusion? Does it signal an advance for the new math framework, or a setback?” p. 323
  • Teachers may not be willing to change way of teaching
    • “She thought that her revolution was over. Her teaching had changed definitively. She had arrived at the other shore.” p. 325
  • How to teach teachers not to teach by telling, by telling them how to teach?
    • “If students need a new instruction to learn to understand mathematics, would not teachers need a new instruction to learn to teach a new mathematics?”. p. 327
    • “Hence teachers are the most important agents of instructional policy (Cohen, 1988; Lipsky, 1980), but the state’s new policy also asserts that teachers are the problem. It is, after all, their knowledge and skills that are deficient.” p. 326
    • “Teachers also would have to learn a new practice of mathematics teaching, while learning the new mathematics and unlearning the old.” p. 327

Zimmerman, J. (2014). Why is American Teaching so Bad?

  • Women as teachers – lower salaries, maternal instinct
    • That helped save money for taxpayers, because school districts could pay women less than their male counterparts. It also capitalized on women’s natural instincts and abilities…” 
  • Quality of teachers in decline – create Teach for America – but still need Teacher Professional Development
    • “By 1980, Texas Monthly published an award-winning article showing that public school teachers in Houston and Dallas scored lower on reading and math tests than the average sixteen-year-old in nearby suburbs did.”
    • “Everyone understands that you can’t be a nurse without attending a nursing school with carefully developed standards that must be met if candidates are to be systematically inducted into the profession. Most of our schools of education lack such high standards.”
  • Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) – Lee Shulman, Stanford
    • “I am a full professor at a major research university, but I could not, without much preparation, teach high school chemistry.”
  • Japanese teachers have weekly routine for PD
    • “Japanese teachers even have a separate word for this process, jugyokenkyu, which is built into their weekly routines. All teachers have designated periods to observe each other’s classes, study curriculum, and otherwise hone their craft.”
  • American education is technocentric
    • “But the countries that are outpacing us at school, like Japan and Finland, are noticeably low-tech in their classrooms; they recognize that it’s the teacher that counts, not the technology. In America, by contrast, we’re always looking for the next gadget to improve—and, one suspects, to supplant—our beleaguered teaching profession.”

Learning Environments – Week 10 – Mind Map

Got all the post its from our group meeting, typed them up and created some mind maps… grouping is coming along but I’m thinking about applying the learning theories to the environment I was observing previously.



No divide between man and brute


Experience Sense Perception
Blank slate
“Smoothing of paths” – learning
Learning with the World
Embodied cognition
Learn through senses
Experiential learning


Student centered teaching
Clock metaphor – wind it instead of moving its arms
Very precise language: long-thick
Don’t force it. Don’t correct it.
Natural curiosity
Make “spontaneous observers”
Guidance needed
Sense training
Experience their senses
Experiential learning
Intrinsic motivation
Mixed age grouping


Experiential learning
Thoughts are creative & novel – can’t be communicated
Are you learning the right thing? Correct answer & actually knowing
Extrinsic – Intrinsic
“Is there anything but a problem?”
No grades


Social speech – communication
Student self-discovery
Egocentric speech – useless
Children – no real social life
Teacher = guide
Developmental stages
Law of nature – universal
Peer to peer learning
Mixed age students
Elder to younger
Master – apprentice


Immersive, experiential, embodied
People learn from physical spaces
External vs internal cognition
Knowledge passed from elders
Emotional Intelligence
Wisdom from reflection and hard work
Culture, language, and physical space
Study -> Smooth <- Resilient
Exterior to Interior


It was Piage himself who demonstrated “logic of action precedes logic of thought”
Egocentric speech IS useful
MKO more knowledgable other
Human and nature
Egocentric speech – intellectual tool
Social scaffolding
Motivation to Learn

Lave & Wenger

Legitimate peripheral participation (LPP)
Knowledge lives outside of us / amongst us
Newcomers need old-timers.
For COP, LPP to be optimal, newcomers must have access to meaningful tasks
Technology must be invisible but visible
No center, COP alway evolving – knowledge is more complex
Formal vs. informal indoctrination
Old timers must be open to newcomers perspective


Behavioral Engineering
Walden Two – “self-control”
Operant Conditioning
Mixed age grouping
Extrinsic to Intrinsic motivation
Rapid feedback
Developmental readiness
Content relevance
Teacher’s role

Cole & Griffin

Language is a technology of mediation
Social, interpersonal
Language gives you the world twice


Literally external cognition
Embodied cognition
Collective intelligence – social education
McDermott & Ralley

Gestures and Intelligence

Students vs readers – disconnect – good at the wrong thing


Active constructors
Multple ZPDs
Reciprocal teaching
Community of learners
Cross-age teaching
Comprehension monitoring device
Group’s learning achievements are greater than individuals
Impoverished artificial learning environments conflicts with natural instincts


Children are capable linguistically
Spontaneous language creation
Learning is social

Notes on Methods 2

Next quarter I am going to start taking notes on the computer again… even though there seems to be a little extra learning when writing things down on a paper, the study and referencing back to them is a nightmare.

On one hand no copy/pasting means that I have to actually re-read and re-type the notes. On the other hand, it is really tedious to search.

Maybe a notebook that holds all the notes in chronological order might help, even though I’ve used several in the past, and they simply became a to do list where I crossed things out as they were completed. Plus it is still tedious to search through written notes.

SO – going to try to take notes directly onto the blog, making them more multimedia with links and diagrams. Let’s see

Tech 4 Learners – Week 10 – 2 Min Video Assignment

Working on a 2 minute video presentation of our prototype for ‘A’ at OMS.



Meet Achu.

Achu is twelve years old, full of smiles, and loves art, basketball and HotWheels videos.

Achu’s vocabulary is plenty big, but he doesn’t always use it, instead choosing to repeat the words of others instead of what he really thinks.

Our goal for this work was to support Achu in sharing more of his own thoughts. Let’s call this “spontaneous language creation.”

We believe that if we can help Achu to generate more spontaneous language, over time, he might find it easier to express himself and share his perspectives with the people around him.

So we set out to design a tool that would allow him to do that.

For the first prototype we decided to draw on Achu’s interests and build a system where he could watch and engage in basketball or HotWheels video.

Narrate it when thoughts came to mind or when he was prompted.

Then replayed the video with his recorded narration to show him the value of his words.

Their entertainment value, usefulness.

Even their coolness.

And we found…

Achu was engaged!

He started using more new words!

Car, Fell Down, Score.

And he enjoyed hearing his voice in the replay of the video.

But we still thought we could do better.

We wanted to see if we could increase his level of engagement and the complexity of his spoken ideas by drawing more on his strengths and core motivations.

Knowing that Achu is kind and caring, our new hypothesis was that he would be more engaged and motivated, if he had to help someone else.

Playing off the idea that people are more motivated to work hard when someone else depends on their teaching.

It’s called the protege effect.

Meet Tom, the blind, talking cat.

He introduces himself.

Becomes your friend, then asks for your help,

It worked!

All of a sudden, there was something at stake, a character that needed help.

By chunking the video and having Achu explain what happens in each video chunk to Tom the Cat, we tapped into Achu’s strength of empathy and he was motivated to take on the challenge of spontaneous language creation.

We saw engagement, positive affect, and complex explanations.

Thanks Achu, for helping!


Tech 4 Learners – Week 10 – Assignment Lessons Learned



Team SAL: Soren, Alex, Lucas 

Lessons Learned

  • Time with the intended user and rigorous user testing are critical to success. Every interaction our team had with our OMS student yielded more ideas and insights.
  • It can be challenging to figure out whether an idea is not good or whether its implementation was the issue. It’s quite possible that a user will not engage well with a prototype even though the basis of the prototype is a worthwhile idea. Consequently, it is important to identify the critical learning mechanism to be tested and give the learner different ways to engage with it.
  • What would be motivating to us is not necessarily as motivating to other learners. For example, while our team might be excited to narrate videos, our OMS learner was much more motivated to help a blind cat understand the video.
  • It is important to use a learner’s strength to help him improve upon his weakness. With our OMS learner, we found greater success when we played off of his strength (caring for others) to motivate him to talk.
  • The Wizard of Oz technique enabled our team to rapidly test, change, and evolve our prototype. The freedom to build just part of our prototype and simulate the rest of the prototype experience also allowed us to test several backup ideas, which helped us gather additional insight on our learner’s motivations and interests. 
  • We realized how important it is to record and review testing sessions. By closely analyzing when our learner showed engagement, we were able to pinpoint the specific mechanisms through which our prototype encourages participation and positive affect. 
  • The “protege effect” – or more broadly the task of teaching someone else – is a powerful motivator. Our strongest prototype turned our learner into a teacher that would explain videos to a blind cat who couldn’t see them. Our learner was quite responsive as he saw real purpose in generating words to help the needy creature.