What are the pedagogical principles of the Holodeck that might influence technology use, or advice on its use, for learning?

Thornburg (2010) defines a holodeck as a reconfigurable immersive learning space in which tasks are carried out in support of various “missions”. This learning environment is strongly connected to an trandisciplinary inquiry -centric project based pedagogy. Students explore the curriculum through direct experiences with an emphasis on collaborative learning where each student has a role to fulfill in the immersive environment. The importance of developing skills of questioning and guided inquiry is still paramount. Students need to fully understand their roles prior to using the holodeck. The teacher is again a facilitator for learning. Thornburg (2010, 7) notes how staff development is imperative to allow for the ‘deep pedagogical shift educators will make when using this environment’.

These principles transfer to any use of technology and its application in the learning environment.  It is moving the teacher away from the front of the classroom in particular, and immersing students in multi-tasking learning opportunities, while still providing them with the scaffolding to support them. Thornburg’s comment about the imperative of staff development is a crucial one. Too often, technology is introduced into the schools, or classroom’s redesigned without a focus on moving the teacher along with the innovative technologies and spaces. Without this development, little change is enacted.

As Thornburg states: “The real power of technology in the classroom comes when we use it do things we couldn’t do before at all, not just to do old things differently”


Thornburg, D. (2010). Learning on the Holodeck: Transforming Classrooms for All Learners, Thornburg Center for Space Exploration. Retrieved from: http://www.tcse-k12.org/pages/holodeck.pdf

Thornburg, D. (2014). From the Campfire to the holodeck, how place matters in rducation. AACE Conference. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tx1cAQREVls