Learning Environment – Week 3 – Observations/Interviews of a Tech Learning Environment


Describe the educational environment you’ve picked to observe and its background. What are key possibilities for employing technologies in the setting (physical or virtual)? Tell us how you will observe it.


EDUC 333A – Paper One

Observations/Interviews of a Tech Learning Environment

Lucas Longo

The technology setting I am interested in investigating is the relationship between educators and the digital course content publication tools they use. I intend to observe how they work with the variety of tools at hand. What are the onuses and bonuses of such tools? What is missing or could be done better?

Online courses, MOOCS, and several other initiatives have been offering content digitally and promising access to education for all. One of the reasons I believe that there has been limited success is that the course material is generally not planned and produced specifically for such a context. It is not enough to record the live lectures, publish the slides and assign reading materials. The content has to be created in a new form so that it can be delivered in an appealing and effective manner.

The potential of improving these tools is that you would be able to capture more knowledge with a higher quality from more educators. If the process of creating the online content is easy and fun to do, more educators would “take the plunge” and share what they know more often. Learners would have potentially higher quality content delivered in a manner that is interesting, engaging, exploratory and effective.

My personal interest in the subject matter is integrating media editing tools into LMSs to make it easier to edit and manage multiple source materials such as video, slides, photos, links, tweets and so on. I also think that an essential part of the process is to provide the educator with some level of guidance and coaching during the process of creating their courses. The platform could provide templates, step-by-step ‘wizards’, access to similar lesson plans, quizzes and activities for inspiration and finally providing human feedback once the course is submitted for review. The gamification of lesson preparation, course creation or sharing of knowledge.

To observe this in action I intend to observe a subject matter expert who is preparing his course, creating the digital content and publishing it on an online tool. I am in touch with Edmodo, with whom I might intern next quarter, to observe educators in this process. Ideally I would have access to the existing training material they already offer their incoming teachers and be able to talk to the team responsible for designing the tool from the educator’s perspective.

Some potential interview questions are:

  1. How does the platform aid in the process of creating the content for your course?
  2. Do you see a necessity for the content editing tools be integrated with an LMS?
  3. What is you preferred method of teaching?
  4. Do you believe the tools you use provide a better learning experience for learners?

Learning Environments – Week 3 – Class Notes

Class Notes


Notes Followup:

Half the class went outside to go and build things with some play material (my group). The other group stayed inside and watched videos about building things. We all came back, divided into 4 groups and had to create a air traffic control center that would withstand hurricanes, simulated by a blow drier 🙂 Fun. The groups that had gone outside seem to have gone right into the construction while the group who stayed inside conceptualized more before they started to build. As far as “who won” – hard to tell 🙂


IMG_0426 IMG_0427 IMG_0428 IMG_0429 IMG_0430 IMG_0431


Understanding Learning Environments – Reading Notes & Comment

We were supposed get a quote from the reading which we found interesting, explain and post it for discussion online. Here’s mine:

“Programmed instruction, with or without machines, was quickly adopted by industry, but the education establishment was not impressed. It was as if the automobile industry had been shown how to build cars in half the time at the cost and had said, “No.” There were reasons for this, of course. The machines were crude, the programs were untested, and there were no ready standards of comparison. Teaching machines would have cost money that was not budgeted. Teachers misunderstood the role of the machines and were fearful of losing their jobs. Nor did a consensus in favor of adopting these machines exist among administrators, school boards, and parents.” (B.F. Skinner, Programmed Instruction Revisited)

It was fascinating to see that the fears and worries of those receiving educational technologies have remained the same for the past 30 years; the fear that the teachers would be substituted and that third parties try to tell schools how to do their job. Why hasn’t this fear been addressed. How come the educational technology industry has not worked towards reducing that impression?

I believe that a previous step is necessary to tackle the issue is to show the teachers and institutions how EdTech is here to aid teachers in process, not to substitute it. The statement at the end of the reading is very unfortunate saying that it is a teaching machine instead of a teaching-aid, since it implies that the machine really does it all and discards the teachers. Teaching-aid feels like a much more appropriate definition and use the “teaching-machine”.

Finally, to claim that the machine teaches is a stretch. It seems to be able to test users about some previously knowledge but not introduce new knowledge.”


The readings:

  • “Association of Ideas”, John Locke
  • “Walden Two”, B.F. Skinner, 1948
  • “Programmed Instruction Revisited”, B.F. Skinner, 1986
  • “Psychology as the Behaviorist Views it.”, John B. Watson (1913)


Notes on the readings:

IMG_0310 IMG_0311 IMG_0312

Understanding Learning Environments

Professor: Shelley Goldman and Roy Pea (he’s part of NETP’s Technical Working Group!)

Course Description:

This course offers a seminar experience that provides a tour through some of the primary ways in which learning has been theorized over the past several centuries. Knowing some of the basic biases, insights, and tensions of some of the traditions of learning theory is a launch pad for what you need to know as a designer of learning environments. There are many ways to structure the experiences by which we learn. We will be focusing on a few that tend to dominate in the settings and discourses of education, technology and learning sciences research.”

Another history lesson for me! Understanding where all the learning theories originated from!