NECC, Monday June 30, David Thornburg presentation


Notes from David Thornburg’s presentation early Monday morning. Nothing too revolutionary here, but a fairly interesting talk nonetheless.

Given the changes in technology, our question has changed from “given current classroom practices, how should technology change?” to “given current technology, how should classroom practice change?” When looking at it from a global perspective, we need access for every learner in the world.

Bringing the tools to all children:

  • One-to-one projects must be scalable and sustainable
  • Low cost hardware and open source software and critical applications are the only way this goal can be achieved.
  • Single platform software is anti-child (this is still an issue as not many vendors create applications for all platforms). Software should serve the platform and not the child.
  • Hardware: OLPC, not clear where the future is going. Regardless of its success, the XO had an impact on the hardware industry in that prices dropped substantially. Laptop-type devices are also being developed more and more (Classmate, One2OneMate, Koolu (desktop), which runs on 10 Watts instead of 150). Also cellphone type devices like the neo1973. Also USB type sticks that will run an OS with all its applications.

Importance of open source
• Cost
• Robust applications on a graphical user interface
• New applications created daily, shared, and often cross-platform.
In Africa, some schools have freedom posts (kiosks) to distribute open-source software.
In Brazil, Linux is used by the government and in public schools (Governmental Computador Para Todos program).

Through our scientific and technological genius, we have made of this world a neighborhood and yet we have not had the ethical commitment to make of it a brotherhood (Martin Luther King quote that sort of sums up what we are doing in education, at least in the U.S.)

Using pieces of your culture to motivate students to learn (e.g. corn rows for math)
A global movement has risen up in the affirmation of digital culture… the creative impulses of the Brazilian people need access to the digital world – Gilberto Gil (has set up schools for film-making in poor areas for the next generation of film makers.

Breaking borders with software, e.g. Cmap (collaborative concept map making; free)

Copyright and cultural artifacts -> open content in education (rip, mix, and burn), e.g. MIT Courseware.

In sum, the key lesson to be learned from Thornburg’s talk is that of the importance of access for all, and he showed some ways in which that can be done. There are some powerful lessons to be learned from other areas of the world, such as Brazil and the African continent.

Left session a little early to get ready for the SIGHC forum.

Image Credits:

NECC logo, NECC 2008 website:

One response to “NECC, Monday June 30, David Thornburg presentation

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