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The Learning Federation. Catalyzing a Revolution in Learning. Henry Kelly President, Federation of American Scientists Executive Secretary, The Learning Federation. The Need for a Revolution.

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The Learning Federation

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the learning federation

The Learning Federation

Catalyzing a Revolution in Learning

Henry Kelly

President, Federation of American Scientists

Executive Secretary, The Learning Federation


The Need for a Revolution

  • Continuing technical revolution in business, military, and civilian government depends on advances in learning --continuous learning
  • Constant surprises in military role and mission demands efficient just-in time learning for individuals and groups (business analogies)
  • Increasing diversity of learners (educational, experience age, background, culture, language)
  • Digital divide in access to computer hardware would be dwarfed by a divide in access to first rate education
  • Advances in cognitive science but..
  • Technology can make learning more productive, more efficient, more accessible, more affordable

What’s Possible?

  • Learning that looks more like life – simulations, exploration, apprenticeships, collaboration (know when these are useful)
  • Mentoring continuously (recognize and adapt to observed individual student conceptual progress, motivation, distress)
  • Integrate learning and assessment (complex measures of competence compelling to students and employers
  • Question management (sensitive to individual, context, content)
  • Best mixture of human and artificial assistance (humans given contextual clues)
  • Improve instructional systems continuously
  • Close gap between research and classroom

What’s the Problem?

  • Gross underinvestment in research
  • Cottage industry: no institutional tradition of innovation, managing innovation, capital investment, specialization
  • Isolation of Learning research community
  • Over-promising/underestimating the difficulty of the challenge
  • Difficulty of forming multi-disciplinary teams
the learning federation1
The Learning Federation
  • Focus on post-secondary STEM education
  • Create a SEMATECH-like consortium
  • Begin with a research roadmap: structured development plan, clear & ambitious goals
  • Execute the roadmap (Ramp to $100M-$200M/year)
  • Support large-scale, sustained efforts, multiple disciplines
  • Continuous assessment, evaluation, feedback
Steering Committee

Ruzena Bajcsy, UC Berkeley

John Bransford, Vanderbilt U

Randy Hinrichs, Microsoft Research

Ed Lazowska, U Washington

Elliott Masie, Masie Center

Al Moye, Hewlett Packard

Richard Newton, UC Berkeley

Don Norman, Nielsen Norman Group

Raj Reddy, CMU

Shankar Sastry, UC Berkeley

Bill Spencer, Washington Advisory Group

Janos Sztipanovits, DARPA, Vanderbilt U

Andries van Dam, Brown U

Karen Watson, CPB

Ann Wittbrodt, HP



Hewlett Packard

Hewlett Foundation

Carnegie Corporation of New York

National Science Foundation

Corporation for Public Broadcasting

El Paso Corporation (pledged)

Ingram Micro (pledged)

Active discussion with many others

Collaboration with NSF,DARPA, NIH, Commerce..

learning technology research
Learning Technology Research

Cognitive Science

Information Science

cognitive theory
Cognitive Theory
  • Acquiring expertise means
    • being provided clues to how to organize information into a logical structure and,
    • lots of practical experience to fix this logic in a learner’s mind.
  • Knowledge is not retained as long-term memory if:
    • the learner is forced to move to new material without an opportunity to experience how these tools are used in practical situations
    • information is not presented in a way that makes sense to the individual.
  • The broadest possible set of experiences should be provided
  • Experience and practice should continue only as long as it is challenging and reinforces expertise.

Based on: How People Learn: NAS 2001

assessment theory
Assessment Theory:
  • focus on identifying the specific strategies used for problem-solving;
  • make students’ thinking visible both to their teachers and themselves and adjust instruction as appropriate
  • provide timely and informative feedback
  • consider the knowledge and skills required to understand and answer a question or solve a problem including the context in which it is presented.

Based on: Knowing what Students Know : NAS 2001



Teachers, Experts,



Private Records

Assess System

Automated answers

Public Records

Observer &

Question Dispatch


Control Logic

Simulated environment

Learner Action

elements of the research roadmap
Elements of the Research Roadmap
  • Learning Sciences
    • How and when to use “discovery based” learning, drill and practice, etc),
    • Understanding how people learn, how experts organize information
    • Best use of human instructors, tutors, experts
    • Adapting to revealed student needs (knowledge, learning styles, interests)
  • Learning Tools
    • Building valid simulations of biological objects (digital human, geology, devices etc)
    • Easy formation of teams/groups (networks of learners, teachers, coaches, specialists),
    • Fast, seamless, context sensitive response to all student questions,
    • Course-building tools (designing scenarios, creating assignments, Decision-support systems)
  • Assessment/User Modeling
    • Continuous, multi-dimensional assessments of content mastery (how would an expert behave),
    • Embedded systems to discover individual learning styles
    • Continuous improvement in the system and efficient operations of markets.
next steps
Next Steps
  • Hold series of focused workshops to refine the roadmap August 2002 – March 2003
  • Develop management plan for research funding organization
  • Publish integrated research roadmap Fall 2003
  • Grow consortium membership as the economy recovers

Planned Research

Roadmap Workshops

you are invited
You are invited …
  • Demo/Poster session
  • Birds of Feather session Wednesday
  • Your thoughts on how to leverage AQUAINT R&D
  • Your thoughts on expanding/mapping work in this workshop to an Q&A research agenda for learning systems:
    • Stimulating questions (teachers/scenarios), dialogues
    • Pedagogical strategies
    • Tutoring skills: Sensitivity to learner/user
      • context, user modeling, individual differences
      • diagnosing sources of misunderstanding and proposing new directions of inquiry
      • volunteer an answer to a question that hasn’t been asked (low false alarm)
      • helping learners formulate questions
    • How to best use human instructors
      • Dispatching questions to teachers, specialists to answer questions
      • Assistance for human tutors (“links to user modeling, “ instant replays” of student work, qualifying respondents)
    • Timeliness (requirements)
  • Participation in Q&A Systems for Technology-Enabled Learning workshop
contact information
Contact information

Henry Kelly

President, Federation American Scientists

Executive Secretary, The Learning Federation