The idea of "intelligent machines" helping in teaching humans is not new. In 1954, B.F. Skinner proposed the first modern sample of a teaching program, and this area of educational activity began to be called "programmed learning". His idea was enhanced by other experts and progressed due to advanced computer technologies. This paper is devoted to the author’s creation of a virtual laboratory where graduate students study psychology in a dialogue with an interactive computer-based program. The laboratory is incorporated into the author’s Child Development and Learning online course. Students, current educators, are trained to recognize theoretical concepts and ideas of L. Vygotsky in the text of a literary story about a 10-year-old boy. The virtual laboratory’s website includes: 1. Theory page defining the basic Vygotskian theoretical concepts; 2. Story page containing an episode of N. Nosov’s novella Schoolboys, a model of modern psychological prose about children; 3. Instructions page with detailed descriptions of the method to work on the text; 4. Practicum block where students learn to recognize the theoretical concepts illustrated in the text; 5. Summary page presenting students’ answers to the program’s questions and the program’s recommendations on improvement the students’ skills in analyzing and understanding the text. This work exemplifies the scientific approaches of B.F. Skinner, P.Y. Galperin, and J. Dewey. In our study, integration of psychology, pedagogy, literature, fine arts, and computer technology provides an interesting and productive training. Such training improves schoolteachers’ intuitive, analytical, and semantic thinking essential for their pedagogical practice.
Anna Toom, Touro College & University System, United States