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David Thornburg

Award-Winning Futurist, Author & Educational Consultant

Award-Winning Futurist, Author & Educational Consultant

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Illinois, USA
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David Thornburg Biography

David Thornburg is an award-winning futurist, author, and educational consultant whose clients range across the public and private sectors across the planet.

His razor-sharp focus on the fast-paced world of modern computing and communication media, project-based learning, 21st-century skills, and open-source software has placed him in constant demand as a keynote speaker and workshop leader for schools, foundations, and governments.

Thornburg was strongly influenced by the early work in space exploration and was the beneficiary of changes in the US educational system that promoted and developed an interest in STEM skills. He now is engaged in helping a new generation of students and their teachers infuse these skills through the mechanism of inquiry-driven project-based learning.

His educational philosophy is based on the idea that students learn best when they are constructors of their own knowledge. He also believes that students who are taught in ways that honor their learning styles retain the native engagement with learning with which they entered school. A central theme of his work is that we must prepare students for their future, not for our past. In addition to his work with technology, Thornburg also consults on the relationship between classroom design and learning.

A published author, Thornburg has written numerous books, including "Shift Control: Reflections on Education, Technology and the Lives of Today's Students," "Education in the Communication Age," and "From the Campfire to the Holodeck: Creating Engaging and Powerful 21st Century Learning Environments."

Thornburg splits his time between the United States and Brazil. His work in Brazil also is focused on education, and he has spoken at conferences and consulted for firms and educational institutions throughout that country.

David Thornburg Speaking Topics

  • Learning & Technology: Looking to the Future

  • Seeing Tomorrow, Today:

    How to Find Emerging and Future Educational Technologies

    Have you ever made a “trendy” technology purchase, only to see your investment end up in the dust bin a year later? Anyone who uses or purchases modern technologies wants to be sure that the tools they have are as up to date as possible. Yet, no matter how hard we try, it seems that last year's tools are headed for the storage closet before we know it.

    If only we could anticipate “the next big thing,” we could make better technology decisions. Far from the arcane art of gazing into crystal balls, today's futurists use a variety of approaches to see if a new device or capability is a fad or a long-term trend.

    This dynamic presentation, based on a doctoral level course on the topic, shows a variety of lenses through which technologies can be seen with the goal of identifying those that not only meet today's needs, but have the power to last. Each of the strategies described is illustrated with examples of current technologies – some of which may change the ways we learn and work. Examples aside, this session is not a laundry list of modern tools, but a description of proven strategies that let you craft your own visions of the future – visions that will make differences in the lives of those with whom you work.

    Come and learn how science fiction, ideas from evolutionary biology, “wild cards,” “disruptive technologies” and the basic “laws of media” can help you the next time someone asks you about the long-term prognosis for the latest gadget to catch your eye. And, if you work in the technology industry, you should see how the forces we explore impact your own work!

    The presenter, who has been called “the country's premiere educational technology futurist,” has spent a vibrant career both as a technology inventor, and proponent for the effective use of technology in education. His insights inform leaders in education and corporations from small start-up companies to members of the Fortune 500.

    Hone your skills as a futurist, and watch an exciting world unfold before your eyes!

  • Mobile Learning and the Disruption of Education

    (with Norma Thornburg and Sara Armstrong, PhD)

    We live at one of the most important times in education's history where we are witnessing a disruption whose magnitude has not been equaled since the invention of the mass-produced book. The astounding growth of smartphones and tablets has brought highly connected learning tools into the hands of many learners, and this trend will reach most of them very shortly. With students entering the classroom with access to the Library of Congress in their pockets, purses and backpacks, it is little wonder that many educators are concerned that students are using these tools to "cheat."

    In fact, the so-called cheating is a product of asking students questions for which the Internet provides an easy answer. In the context of the move from data through information and knowledge to understanding, Traditional textbook driven didactic teaching has diminishing value. The mark of an educated person is based less on what he or she knows and more on what they are able to do with this knowledge aas they apply it in their lives.

    This speech explores alternative pedagogical models in which the power of ubiquitous mobile technologies is coupled with inquiry and student projects to transform learning in powerful, fundamental ways.

  • From the Campfire to the Holodeck:

    How Place Matters in Education

    In the 1990's, the presenter published a book in which he described four learning spaces occupied by all learners during their studies: the campfire (lecture space), watering hole (collaborative space), Cave (reflective space), and Life (application space). This updated presentation explores the powerful role physical and virtual spaces can have on STEM education. One environment that embodies these spaces is the Educational Holodeck, and demonstrations of this environment will be provided illustrating the exploration of academic topics through, for example, space exploration.

  • “ET” Comes Home:

    Arduino Robotics in the Classroom

    Too often STEM is interpreted as just science and math, with engineering and technology taking a back seat. Remember the movie, ET? Well, in this workshop ET stands for engineering and technology, and we bring both these topics to the forefront with the use of an inexpensive and amazingly versatile gadget, the Arduino, an interface board with a programmable chip that forms the bridge between your robotic constructions and computer programming. Depending on the needs and interests of the students, the Arduino can be programmed using everything from the Scratch language to C. It can even be controlled through Hyperstudio!

    As for the devices you can build, the sky is the limit. Recycled materials combined with a few motors, lights, and sensors of various types can be turned into projects of varying complexity. Best of all, while these projects are definitely hands-on, they are minds-on as well. Students develop problem solving strategies and learn some simple electronic theory normally explored in a Physics classroom.

    In this day-long workshop, you can work by yourself or in groups of up to five members. Each individual will get his or her own Arduino and assorted components to build many projects. Best of all, the hardware goes home with you at the end of the workshop so you can share what you've learned with your colleagues!

    Participants are asked to bring their laptop, clean recycled materials – corrugated cardboard, soda bottles, etc. along with glue and some hand tools – and the ever-present duct tape! If needed, soldering iron(s) will be provided.

  • Gadgets and Geegaws:

    The Cornerstones of STEM Education

    This dynamic presentation, aided by numerous gadgets, geegaws, widgets, and doohickeys, makes the strong case that every child needs the chance to learn by tinkering with real stuff! We have migrated into a head-based world as far as education goes, but, as Seymour Papert pointed out, this is not enough. We all have the need to build things with our hands that can be shared with others. This model of “constructionism” is the logical outcome of the constructivist model well known to all. It represents the domain of lasting knowledge fueled by student activities and projects, some of which have strong curricular connections, and all of which support discovery and experimentation.

    The presenter, who has been a tinkerer since his early years, illustrates not only the power of this approach, but shows strategies and tools to bring true hands-on learning to kids of all ages. Whether it is primary-grade students building rubber-band cars, or high school students building and programming their own automated machines using interfaces like the Arduino board and programming tools ranging from Scratch to C, we'll explore concrete methods for bringing engineering and technology into your STEM program in powerful ways. See how to transform apparently useless things into powerful learning experiences and rekindle the joy that comes from playing with new gadgets of all kinds! In this session we will (probably) not blow anything up.

David Thornburg Videos

  • David Thornburg on the Evolving Classroom (Big Thinkers Series ...
    The noted educational futurist describes his "holodeck" classroom -- an environment that supports project-based learning -- and makes the case for...
  • TEDx: How Traditional Classroom Design Can Impede Learning
    In this presentation, David Thornburg explores how traditional classroom design can impede learning and shows the educational holodeck, a theater...
  • David Thornburg - STEM Education That is Out of This World - CUE ...
    Starting with Sputnik’s inspiration, David Thornburg introduces attendees to the Arduino interface card, which allows students to program...

David Thornburg Books

  • The Invent To Learn Guide to 3D Printing in the Classroom: Recipes for Success
    The Invent To Learn Guide to 3D Printing in the Classroom: Recipes for Success
  • The New Basics: Education and the Future of Work in the Telematic Age
    The New Basics: Education and the Future of Work in the Telematic Age

FAQs on booking David Thornburg

  • How do I book David Thornburg to speak at my event?

    Our experienced booking agents have successfully helped clients around the world secure speakers like David Thornburg for speaking engagements, personal appearances, product endorsements, or corporate entertainment since 2002. Click the Check Availability button above and complete the form on this page to check availability for David Thornburg, or call our office at 1.800.698.2536 to discuss your upcoming event. One of our experienced agents will be happy to help you get speaking fee information and check availability for David Thornburg or any other speaker of your choice.
  • What are the speaker fees for David Thornburg

    Speaking fees for David Thornburg, or any other speakers and celebrities, are determined based on a number of factors and may change without notice. The estimated fees to book David Thornburg are for live events and for virtual events. For the most current speaking fee to hire David Thornburg, click the Check Availability button above and complete the form on this page, or call our office at 1.800.698.2536 to speak directly with an experienced booking agent.
  • What topics does David Thornburg speak about?

    David Thornburg is a keynote speaker and industry expert whose speaking topics include Authors, Business, College, Education, Futurism, Innovation, Literary, Parenting, Personal Growth, Science and Technology, Technology.
  • Where does David Thornburg travel from?

    David Thornburg generally travels from Illinois, USA, but can be booked for private corporate events, personal appearances, keynote speeches, or other performances. For more details, please contact an AAE Booking agent.
  • Who is David Thornburg’s agent?

    AAE Speakers Bureau has successfully booked keynote speakers like David Thornburg for clients worldwide since 2002. As a full-service speaker booking agency, we have access to virtually any speaker or celebrity in the world. Our agents are happy and able to submit an offer to the speaker or celebrity of your choice, letting you benefit from our reputation and long-standing relationships in the industry. Please click the Check Availability button above and complete the form on this page including the details of your event, or call our office at 1.800.698.2536, and one of our agents will assist you to book David Thornburg for your next private or corporate function.
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    AAE Speakers Bureau is a full-service speaker booking agency, meaning we can completely manage the speaker’s or celebrity’s engagement with your organization from the time of booking your speaker through the event’s completion. We provide all of the services you need to host David Thornburg or any other speaker of your choice, including offer negotiation, contractual assistance, accounting and billing, and event speaker travel and logistics services. When you book a speaker with us, we manage the process of hosting a speaker for you as an extension of your team. Our goal is to give our clients peace of mind and a best-in-class service experience when booking a speaker with us.
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David Thornburg is a keynote speaker and industry expert who speaks on a wide range of topics such as Learning & Technology: Looking to the Future, Seeing Tomorrow, Today:, Mobile Learning and the Disruption of Education, From the Campfire to the Holodeck:, “ET” Comes Home: and Gadgets and Geegaws:. The estimated speaking fee range to book David Thornburg for your event is $10,000 - $20,000. David Thornburg generally travels from IL, USA and can be booked for (private) corporate events, personal appearances, keynote speeches, or other performances. Similar motivational celebrity speakers are B. Gentry Lee, Jennifer James, John Zogby, Dr. Gregory Stock and Jeremy Rifkin. Contact All American Speakers for ratings, reviews, videos and information on scheduling David Thornburg for an upcoming live or virtual event.

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