“David presents at numerous conferences worldwide each year, and engages in both short- and long-term consulting arrangements with schools and districts interested in transforming their institutions to meet the needs of the dynamic world in which we and our children are living.”

Dr. David Thornburg

Senior Education and Technology Consultant

Dr. David Thornburg has been active in the field of education since the late 1970′s and he has invented several technologies that are still in active use today. On receiving his PhD in 1971, he became one of the founding members of the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center where he conducted research and invented devices to improve the user interface to computers. On leaving PARC, he did some consulting and co-founded Koala Technologies, a company built to commercialize his invention of the touch sensitive graphics tablet.

Since that time, he has continued his work in the field of education leading to his observation that “place matters.” In the 1990′s he published Campfires in Cyberspace, the book where he first made the observation that people across culture and time have always occupied four learning spaces: The Campfire (home to direct instruction), the Watering Hole (conversational learning), the Cave (reflective learning) and Life (experiential learning). His initial thesis was that traditional schools spent too much time in Campfire mode and that technology needed to be used in ways that supported all the learning spaces.

Recently, this thinking culminated in his invention of the Educational Holodeck – an immersive and interactive technology-driven environment that flies in the face of traditional classroom design. He is currently writing a new edition of the book with the new title: From the Campfire to the Holodeck: The Role of Place in Learning.

From the standpoint of effective learning, David adopts the perspectives of Vygotsky, Piaget and Papert while recognizing that the very physical layout of many classrooms makes the implementation of these models quite difficult.

David’s work is global in scope, with his primary focus on the United States and Brazil. He presents at numerous conferences worldwide each year, and engages in both short- and long-term consulting arrangements with schools and districts interested in transforming their institutions to meet the needs of the dynamic world in which we and our children are living.

Contact David Thornburg at david@fieldingnair.com.