Educational CyberPlayGround ®

Classroom of the Future

Keynote Address
David D. Thornburg
Thornburg Center for Professional Development

In his keynote speech, David Thornburg assumed the persona of a time traveler from the year 2020, reporting to the citizens of 1995 on the long-term impact of their current decisions about educational technology.

One good decision, Thornburg said, was to link technology with school reform. "You started teaching using multiple learning styles, a democratic structure, integrated curricula, and decentralized learning."

"You broke out of the 2 x 4 x 6 idea: we've been burdened by two covers, by four walls, by six periods."

-- David Thornburg

Children in the year 2020 will do much of their learning in the field, he said, addressing real-world concerns, conducting hands-on projects, and using a variety of interactive tools. In this environment, teachers become "co-learners, guides and facilitators," according to Thornburg. The children's museums of 1995 offer prototypes for this approach to learning, he said.

He told of an imaginary Nobel prize winner in the 21st century whose interest in science was kindled through an Internet-based NASA Spacelink project in 1994. "What brought her into science was her ability to get the same information that the scientists did," he said. "She's in one of your classes in one of your states as a fourth grader right now; it's by nurturing her interests now that she will discover microbial life forms in another solar system in 2019."

Finally, he said, the citizens of 1995 were astute enough to understand that while Internet access is essential, education involves much more than access to advanced tools. "You realized that the job in your century was to help students find the wisdom in information, find the light in living, and . . . the meaning in the depth of a 500-channel democracy."

Successful Meetings magazine lists Dr. David Thornburg as one of the top 21 speakers in the United States. Electronic Learning magazine has also listed him as one of the six most popular speakers in the area of educational technology. His dynamic, thought provoking presentations provide transformative experiences to well over 100,000 people per year. His monthly commentaries for PBS on the impact of emerging technologies on learning expand his reach far beyond the podium.