David Boulton – Learning Activist

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President of Learning Stewards and Director of the Children of the Code Project, David Boulton is a learning-activist, technologist, public speaker, documentary producer, and author. He has been a learning environment architect for Apple computer, a featured blogger for the National Association of School Superintendents, and contributor to Wired’s Innovation Insights.  He is the architect of “Interactive Orthography” and oversees the “Magic Ladder” which includes tools, Pre-K through Adult lessons, and Ebooks for beginning and struggling readers (based on Interactive Orthography).

David’s articles on learning have appeared in: The Brain-Mind Bulletin, In Context, The California School Board’s Journal,  The American Music Teacher, Management and Conjecture (France), Centecemes (Mexico) Information Research (England)New Horizons for Learning, Young Scholar, Quantum Leap (China) and others. Articles about his work have been featured in blogs, journals, and books including: The Journal of Developmental Education, Poisoned Apple: The Bell Curve Crisis and How Our Schools Create Mediocrity and Failure, Working Wisdom (Timeless Skills and Vanguard Strategies for Learning Organizations), The Interactive Corporation: Enhancing Profits, Performance and Productivity in Your Business, Schools Out: Hyperlearning and the end of Education, On The Brain, Research Access, the Hechinger Report, and Mentorships in Education: A Podcast with David Boulton. His article “Revolutionizing Reading Instruction” was published by Language Magazine.

David’s  k-12 education orientation and vision have been presented at the World Futurist Society, The 21st Century Learning Initiative, The New American Schools Design Team, at both the California and National Education Summits, the Ontario (Canada) School Board Association, The International Baccalaureate School of Hawaii, The Chinese Ministry of Education, The Dalian Medical School. He was the featured presenter at dozens of Apple Computer educational events and has presented his work on the Children of the Code Project at over 100 events including the national conferences of the International Dyslexia Association, the National Center for Family Literacy, the American Library Association, Scientific Learning’s National Circle of Learning, the National School Mental Health Association, and the Science Network’s Science of Educating Conference.  He has keynoted events including South Carolina’s Education and Business Summit, the Georgia School Superintendents Association Conference, The Nebraska School Psychologists Conference, The Florida State Literacy Conference, the Wyoming Department of Education’s Leadership Symposium, and at dozens of colleges and schools. His websites have won the Teacher Information Network Gold Award and the Innovative Teaching Concepts Award of Excellence.

As a technologist David created an early Electronic Book (patent) , a digital cable broadcasting system (patent) and Electronic Publishing for Learning, a system for publishing information intended to facilitate learning. As an organizational learning theorist and software architect David designed Apple Computer’s ‘Electronic Campus’ and the feedback components of Pacific Bell’s ‘Employee Knowledge Link’ system. AIG, H.P., Mazda, ALLTEL, NEW YORK Life Insurance, Bank of America and many other Global 2000 companies have implemented his ‘learning circuits’ and organizational learning and feedback concepts. His last patent, “A Method and Apparatus for Implementing User Feedback“, involves a different way of thinking about digitally distributed learning that has promising implications for how the Web of the future will evolve and perform. His current project, “The Magic Ladder Project” and its main component, the PQ App, is a new kind of ed tech that uses Interactive Orthography to support the process of learning to read.

David has founded five companies and been awarded four patents. His last start-up, DiaCom/2way (today, ‘Validar’) went on to win the Smithsonian Award for Innovation and appeared on Upside Magazine’s Top 100 private companies list.  He has been an adviser to the Chair of the California Senate Education Committee and a member of the U.S. D.O.E.’s Gateway Project. David appeared in the PBS Television show “The New Science of Learning: Brain Fitness for Kids” and in the Science Network’s “The New Science of Educating” broadcast. He is a past member of the 21st Century Learning Initiative and the Dialogue Research Project at M.I.T.’s Organizational Learning Center.

Comments from “Leaders in Learning” about David’s Work

Personal Opinion Blog (primarily about learning and ethics)

Linkedin Profile
Twitter Feed
FaceBook Page 

PBS: “The New Science of Learning”

Science Network’s “The New Science of Educating”

“Stewarding Healthy Learning”

9 Responses to David Boulton – Learning Activist

  1. Richard I. Garber November 21, 2012 at 11:44 am #


    This is a comment on your November 16th post at the National Association of School Superintendents blog titled When Learning Hurts – Toxic Learning. I put it here because that site won’t let me log in.

    Last year there was a magazine article that reported the prevalence of both test anxiety and speaking anxiety in U. S. adolescents. See:

    The claim you linked to that public speaking is the number one fear of adults is nonsense:


    • Learning-Activist November 21, 2012 at 12:33 pm #


      Our purposes are quite different. You seem to be advocating for the ‘joy of public speaking’. I am concerned with the ‘health’ of our children’s learning. My point in the piece you commented on is that too much anxiety is toxic to learning, whatever it’s ’cause’. As for public speaking, I have conducted at least 100 events where I have explicitly asked audiences “what is the number 1 fear of adults?”. In every case the first answer is always public speaking. So, given my WebMd citation, others, and my audience surveys, it’s certainly not ‘nonsense’. Having said that, I realize people fear death and harm to themselves and their loved ones above all else. Yes, I agree it’s implicitly a ‘social fear’. I have inserted the word ‘social’ into the sentence that provoked you. Thanks for engaging and for your contribution.


  2. Molly Carroll August 3, 2013 at 10:44 pm #

    I attended the RISE Conference in Knoxville TN on April 13, 2013 – you were the Keynote Speaker. I spoke with you at the very end of the day after your last session. Thank you for your kind comments and advice. At the conference you showed me what was wrong with my teaching- I am so grateful! I wanted to let you know that July 23, 24, 25 I attended SMART (Stimulating Maturity through Accelerated Readiness Training) in Minneapolis, MN at A Chance To Grow (actg.org) it is research-based and brain-based learning techniques. This training has taught me how to teach. Thank you for starting me on my journey. I have been looking for a starting place for a long time. Thank you again! I wish you Godspeed on your mission.

  3. John October 21, 2013 at 7:42 pm #

    I recently came across your work. Thank you.

  4. Nubia August 10, 2018 at 10:45 am #

    children who struggle with reading are struggling with an artificial learning challenge.

  5. Sheila Nance August 18, 2023 at 6:20 am #

    Listening to The post Exploring Differing
    Assumptions: Science and Reading
    Science appeared first on Learning Stewards. There were so many times I wanted to stop what I was doing and take notes so I could reply and share my opinion as a 20 year elementary teacher. BUT one part hit me hard and I had to share.

    Regarding the remark that teachers need 10,000 + hours or any set number of hours to be considered an expert: How can you quantify how many hours a learner requires when individuals each learn in different ways and at different speeds? And in order to become that expert, teachers are supposed to soak up all that knowledge in PDs or in a classroom setting with their peers. I do not believe learning can be quantified by a set of any number???? and I also strongly believe your (teachers) best learning is when you are actively learning and engaging with your students. You learn, you practice, you learn and practice with your students, you adjust your thinking and continue the cycle. Lest I v must be active and engaging. PDs become a checklist, teachers leave so bogged down, overwhelmed with so much information and were not given an attempt/ allowed the time to truly practice that learning with their STUDENTS. Learning is active.

    • Learning-Activist August 18, 2023 at 8:00 am #

      Thank you, Shiela. Dr. Johnson made the comment. I didn’t respond out of “choose your battles wisely” concern for how many times I could interrupt him to differ. I think the 10,000 hours for mastery is a common assumption for mastery in many fields, not just teaching. As to teaching, I agree with you. Did you see my clip “Teaching: First-Person Learning is the Method and the Goal”? https://learningstewards.org/teaching/ I think good teaching is a kind of mutualized learning.


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