Opening Keynote Speaker
Wednesday, June 20, 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.
Roger Schank, PhD
John Evans Professor Emeritus, Northwestern University
Chairman and CEO Socratic Arts, Inc.
Roger Schank started working in linguistics only to realize that he really cared about getting computers to be easier to talk to, so he switched over to working in artificial intelligence Then he realize that you couldn’t talk to a computer that didn’t understand you and didn’t learn from any conversation or experiences it might have had. So he began to work on understanding how people learn and how computers could learn in the way that people do. While he was trying to get computers to learn, the school system was trying to get Roger Schank’s children to learn. Schank noticed that both the methods and the content used in each case were completely different. Schank was concerned with how a computer would acquire practical knowledge and get better at making plans and accomplishing goals. On the other hand, schools seemed to hold the collective belief that the essence of learning was the acquisition of new information about facts, rather than improving and expanding one’s own internal processes and abilities.
All this was going on while Schank was Professor of Computer Science and Psychology at Yale University. (He had previously been a professor at Stanford.)
In 1989, Andersen Consulting decided to give Schank funding to further experiment with his ideas for what came to be called online education if he was willing to shift his focus to training their employees. Schank believed that there was still much to be learned before he approached the schools, so he was happy to begin with adult learning. He moved to Northwestern University where he was given a chaired professorship and established the Institute for the Learning Sciences (ILS).
Schank eventually grew tired of academics, whom he believes have the wrong educational model. In 2001 He built a whole new model for Carnegie Mellon’s Silicon Valley campus where students do not attend class and only learn by doing with mentoring as needed by faculty. While this model is still in use there the model was deemed to be too threatening by Carnegie Mellon.
In 2002 Schank then started Socratic Arts, a company that build learn by doing training for businesses and in 2011 started XTOL, a company that builds online degree programs and continuing education courses for universities. In 2015, Schank started “Connector”, an Artificial Intelligence tool company designed to help people find other people, using video stories.