David Thornburg | Expert on Educational Trends and STEM

David Thornburg

Expert on Educational Trends and STEM

David Thornburg
Featured Keynote Programs

Forget About The Future, It's The Present That Concerns Me
Preparing Students For Today's World

For many years the presenter has shared visions of the future with educators around the world in the hope that this would influence educational practice. This was a mistake. We don't need to prepare students just for some unseen and basically unknowable future, we need to prepare them for the world as it exists today.

With a focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), this dynamic presentation eschews the future in favor of a pragmatic view of today's world. A world where a new class of migrant workers spans the globe working on stimulating high-tech projects on a global scale. A world where cross-disciplinary understanding is needed for success; where 87% of teens have access to primary source materials relating to their studies; where vulcanologists study volcanic eruptions on a moon of Jupiter; where national borders are transparent; where biological species from other planets are put under the microscope; where new microscopic machines are grown, not manufactured. This is not fiction, not a dream, not the future, just reality – as it exists today.

By looking at the skills needed to thrive in today's very real world, ideas relating to curriculum and pedagogy naturally emerge. Forget pie-in-the sky predictions. This presentation explores the world in a way that has implications for every educator, educational leader, and student.

Presentation type: keynote or breakout session
Audience: Educators, educational leaders & students
Duration: 1 hour
Handouts: online

If The World is Flat, Why is My Head Spinning? Education and skills for life in a global economy.

Every one of us has a vested interest in making sure our own children are prepared for life in a world unlike that in which we grew up. This message, shared by the presenter for years, has taken on new urgency as many of his predictions have now come true. This talk expands on Dr. Thornburg's earlier work to explore why the world has changed in ways that practically require our youth to prepare for careers that span the globe, no matter where they may be physically located. The world has not gone flat, it has shrunk to the size of a pin-head where anywhere/anytime access to the benefits of the creative process go a long way to insuring financial independence for today's workers. Listen as we explore trends for the coming years and the role modern technology will play as our world continues to shrink and economic opportunities are found in the empires of the mind, and are less connected to physical places.

Presentation type: keynote
Audience: educators, educational leaders, parents & government officials
Duration: 1 hour
Handouts: online

Beyond the Computer
Emerging Trends in Technology

The face of personal computing is changing rapidly in revolutionary, not evolutionary, ways. This dynamic presentation looks at a few developments that are clearly emerging trends in technology, including:

From running hot to going green: Reduced power consumption
From television to print: Better displays
From fragility to robustness: The Death of the Hard Drive
From start by waiting to can't wait to start! Instant “on” (nearly)
From logging on to showing up: Seamless broadband access
From me and the web to us together: Transparent collaboration and mesh networks
From point and click to wave and pinch: WII, Microsoft Surface etc.
From waiting to exploring: Supercomputer on a chip
From wired to wireless: Growth of rapid deployment infrastructure (wireless vs. digging up streets)
From computers that communicate to communicators that compute: Open cell phone devices (mobile communication devices) Wireless now exceeds wired phones worldwide!

Presentation type: 1 hour keynote or breakout session
Audience: all
Handouts: Resource list

Campfires in Cyberspace
Learning in the Telematic Age

This new presentation updates the presenter's perspectives on four primordial cross-cultural learning environments (campfires, watering holes, caves, and life) as embodied in modern tools for learning and communication. The goal is to make sense of the diverse and rapidly changing landscape of computer-based tools increasingly found in the hands of students. By looking at everything from Moodle to MySpace, and from cell phones to iPods, through the lens of modern learning, the true and growing power of technology as a tool for education can be discerned and developed.

Topics include:
 The four learning spaces in action
 How these spaces map to modern pedagogy
 The role of student hardware; from cell phones to iPods and beyond.
 Why one-to-one computing matters
 On-line domains for learning
 Mapping the future of technology's role in education at virtually all grade levels

As today's storytelling environment moves from the glow of the campfire to the glow of a computer screen, this presentation provides a solid framework for all educators seeking to expand the power of learning in support of all students.

Presentation type: 1 hour keynote or breakout session
Audience: all
Handouts: on-line resource list
Requirements: Broadband Internet access (optional)

Leading With Technology for Academic Achievement
Where Things Are, Where They Could Be, How Do We Get There?

What is the connection between educational technology and academic achievement? Personal computers started showing up in classrooms about thirty years ago. Today, computer penetration in U.S. schools is frozen at a student/computer ratio of nearly 4:1. Why has the revolution stalled? What can we do to increase the effective use of technology in the classroom? We clearly live in a world where many children have access to technology outside of school. How does non-school access impact what can happen in the classroom? These and other questions are explored in this dynamic session which also demonstrates educational software and hardware that is accessible to kids, and also looks at the emerging future of technology as one part of a program designed to help schools prepare children for the dynamic world into which they will graduate.

Topics include:
-How does educational technology improve academic achievement?
-What has caused the stall in technology penetration, and what can we do about it?
-What about technologies brought from home?
-What might effective classroom practice look like?
-What tools best fit the interactive styles of today's learners?
-Where is educational technology headed?
-How can we afford to expand technology reach to every child?

Come prepared to engage in thinking about a future that benefits all the children in your district.

Type: Keynote or breakout
Duration: 1 hour
Audience: Administrators, Technology Directors

Why Linux in Education, Why You, and Why Now?

In the past five years the Linux operating system went from a curiosity in K-12 computing to the dominant platform in Indiana high schools, as well as many other schools and districts throughout the US, mirroring the rise of Linux in other countries. For example, in 2008, Brazil announced that, by the end of the year, 36 million children would be using Linux-based computers in public schools in that country.

While Linux can save schools hundreds of thousands of dollars in technology costs, Linux provides many other benefits. This presentation explores the reasons some schools are choosing Linux-based computers over other operating systems, and provides some practical recommendations on how to get started with this powerful environment, as well as showing some of the incredible applications that run on this OS.

Start taking part in the dynamic future of educational computing by following the ideas shared in this presentation.

Presentation type: Breakout session
Audience: Educators, technology specialists, educational leaders, school board members.
Duration: one hour

Space Exploration as a STEM Curriculum

The development of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) skills is a national priority. This dynamic and content-rich (and visually stunning) presentation outlines an approach to address these skills in an integrated fashion using student projects and inquiry, supported by an extensive library of computer-based resources from NASA and elsewhere. This curriculum is built around the overall topic of space exploration, and is presently designed as an elective or after-school program for middle and high school students.

Each year of this international three-year program is focused on one large theme, starting with the exploration of Earth's neighborhood as far as the moon. From there it moves to our Solar System, and then, in the final year, to the galaxies.

Student projects are driven by questions (e.g., why are the four interior planets terrestrial, and the outer four gaseous? Are there an equal number of left- and right-handed spiral galaxies?) Group projects range from taking part in a full simulation of a shuttle launch to the design of a robotic probe designed to test for life on Europa, to (in special settings) the actual construction and launch of a solid-fueled rocket designed by the students.

If you have ever been captured by the mystery of Space, and the role educational computing and other hands-on tools can play in exploring this topic, this session will describe a program that should be of great interest and value to you.

Presentation type: General.
Duration: one hour
Audience: Educators with background or interest in any of the STEM subject areas.

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David Thornburg

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