The Design of LearningWorks

Adele Goldberg, Neometron

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University November 15, 1996


Jobs in commercial software development are team jobs. The teams build systems that bring value to their customers. New hires, whether fresh out of school or transferring from other commercial projects, are successful only if they can contribute to the team's goals. Yet the formal education of these new hires emphasized programming, not system building, and rarely offered team experience in creating and maintaining large systems. What might a curriculum focused on teaching system building contain?

Faced with that question, I set out to design a new system that would support authoring and delivering such a curriculum. The result is LearningWorks , available for free on the Internet. The purpose of this talk is to discuss the user interface design for LearningWorks, specifically how the simple metaphor of learning books can be used both to teach software system building concepts and to support teams in building systems.


Dr. Adele Goldberg is currently a founder of Neometron, Inc., a Texas-based company working towards Intranet support for self-managed teams. Previously, she served as Chairman of the Board and a founder of ParcPlace-Digitalk, Inc. until April, 1996. Prior to the creation of ParcPlace, Adele received a Ph.D. in Information Science from the University of Chicago and spent 14 years as researcher and laboratory manager of Xerox Palo Alto Research Center. From 1984-1986, Adele served as president of the ACM. Solely and with others, Adele wrote the definitive books on the Smalltalk-80 system and has authored numerous papers on project management and analysis methodology using object-oriented technology. Dr. Goldberg edited "The History of Personal Workstations," published jointly by the ACM and Addison-Wesley in 1988 as part of the ACM Press Book Series of the History of Computing which she organized, and co-edited "Visual Object-Oriented Programming" with Margaret Burnett and Ted Lewis. In 1995, a new book on software engineering appeared entitled "Succeeding With Objects: Decision Frameworks for Project Management" with Kenneth S. Rubin.

She was recipient of the ACM Systems Software Award in 1987 along with Dan Ignalls and Alan Kay, PC Magazine's 1990 Lifetime Achievement Award for her significant contributions to the personal computer industry, is a Fellow of the ACM, and was honored in 1995 with the Reed College Howard Vollum Award for contributions to science and technology. She is currently a member of the scientific advisory board of the German National Research Centers (GMD), the governing board of the San Francisco Exploratorium, and is a director of Cogito Learning Media, a private company developing supplemental materials for college-level science and business courses.


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