David Cavallo, Ph.D. is consulting Learning Architect to the Fab Foundation and Special Consultant to the Director of the South End Technology Center (SETC). Cavallo concentrates on how digital fabrication and computation can dramatically improve learning in schools and communities. His work focuses on how creative and constructive uses of computational technologies potentially create learning opportunities that otherwise are extremely difficult to obtain at large scales and with equitable access.
Cavallo is currently coordinating an innovative new collaboration among SETC, the Fab Foundation, MIT Center for Bits and Atoms, the Mayor’s office of the city of Boston, and Boston Public Schools titled Hands-Heads-Hearts: Machines Making Machines (H3M3) at Boston’s Madison Park Technical Vocational High School.
The project has several ambitious goals. One is to help re-invent technical/vocational education for the modern era, by providing access to learning computation and digital fabrication in order to enable advanced manufacturing, new business creation, and development of new solutions specific to local communities and issues, while also overcoming limitations of obsolete methods of instruction. Another key idea is to use design and construction using advanced computational and digital technologies to improve learning across the curriculum, particularly in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). The project begins by having students and teachers make their own digital fabrication machines in order to understand the principles, and then make what they need from their machines and other digital fabrication tools to make what is needed for their learning and for their communities. The idea of self-replicating machines not only reduces costs to outfit new schools, but also is a foundational idea of mindful making, that is, learning through construction and reflection.
David Cavallo was Professor Titular Visitante and a founding faculty member at the Federal University of Southern Bahia (UFSB), a new public university serving the rural areas of the south of the state of Bahia. At UFSB he collaborated with colleagues to design, develop and teach new courses on computational thinking which all students take as part of their general formation, as well as robotics for education, inter-disciplinary courses that use computation and computational environments, ways the university can help improve basic education in the region, and ways to use technology to support active, collaborative learning and to overcome the barriers of distance and the lack of experienced teachers for all students.
Prior to joining UFSB Cavallo was the Vice-President for Education and Chief Learning Architect at One Laptop per Child (olpc). Cavallo led the learning team, worked internally and with partners to design and develop the low-cost, low-power, ecological laptop for learning for children, and then worked with countries to develop materials and local teams to support the transformation of public education to enable equitable access to high-quality education.
Cavallo was a Research Scientist and co-Director with Seymour Papert of the Future of Learning Group at the MIT Media Laboratory. His research focus is on how we can better facilitate human learning using computational technologies. The group developed new digital technologies and new content that, combined with developing new theories of human learning, led to launching innovative learning projects in the U.S. and numerous other countries.
Prior to MIT, Cavallo led the design and implementation of a new medical informatics system as part of a reform of health care delivery and management at the Harvard University Health Services. The goals of the system were to improve quality of care, increase access, and facilitate administration of medical care. The system was designed to be secure and still open. Perhaps most importantly, the goal was to enable learning by both providers and participants through developing technological fluency among all.
He was a Software Principal Engineer in Digital’s Artificial Intelligence Group and was also the founder of the Advanced Technology group for Digital’s Latin American and Caribbean Region. He also worked as a software engineer at Infocom and Data General, and as a freelancer. Cavallo holds a Ph.D and Master of Science degree from the MIT Media Laboratory in Media Sciences focusing on learning and technology with Seymour Papert as his advisor, and studied Computer Science at Rutgers University.