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Note: Episode will air at 11 AM Eastern, March 11, 2023

Episode 143 | Creating Open, immersive, relevant & responsive learning at scale

Our guests (Ariel Anbar and Norman Bier) propose a promising solution for tackling complex concepts in education: creating immersive, adaptive, and open resources that utilize digital personalized tutoring. By incorporating a curriculum that emphasizes real-world relevance and challenges learners, education can be transformed from an abstract and siloed experience to one that is responsive and engaging. Intelligent facilitation of interactions between peers and instructors can also enhance the learning experience, making it more powerful and relevant.

Anbar and Bier also highlighted the importance of open-source in edtech. They pointed out that the industry has been stifled by an investment-driven model that has led to excessive protection of intellectual property (IP) and market domination. However, this approach is ultimately futile since education decision-making is decentralized, and costs must be kept low. An open-source approach to scaling out tech infrastructure is essential since it promotes community collaboration and affordability, thereby providing a hedge against IP capture. While there is still room for specialized, for-profit businesses to cater to specific needs, the adoption of open source can significantly improve education accessibility and affordability for all learners. More importantly, the goal is to create a model that addresses the full range of educational needs—i.e. systems that are effective, robust, reliable and a joy to use.

More about our guests, below the video

About our guests

Ariel Anbar is Center Director and President’s Professor at ASU. He is a scientist and educator exploring Earth’s past and future as an inhabited world, and the prospects for life beyond. He and his team study topics ranging from the origins of Earth’s atmosphere to detecting life on other worlds. Ariel’s passion for science combined with his desire to transform how students learn catalyzed the formation of the ETX Center which he directs, which is reinventing digital learning around curiosity, exploration, and discovery. A graduate of Harvard and Caltech, Ariel is a President’s Professor in ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration and School of Molecular Sciences, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor, and was named one of 10 “teaching innovators” by the Chronicle of Higher Education in 2017.


Norman Bier is Director of the Open Learning Initiative (OLI) at Carnegie Mellon University. His work sits at the intersection of CMU’s internal educational practice, ongoing learning science research and external collaboration.

Norman has spent his career at the intersection of learning and technology, working to expand access to and improve the quality of education. His experience spans the higher educational sector, including 2-year and 4-year; public and private; domestic and international; and commercial institutions. Prior to joining OLI, he was Director of Training and Development at iCarnegie Inc., a CMU subsidiary chartered to deliver software development education through international partner institutions. Using technology and faculty support, iCarnegie reaches thousands of students who would otherwise not have access to a CMU-level education. He has taught computer science courses as an adjunct faculty member at the Community College of Allegheny County, philosophy courses at Carnegie Mellon University and served as a founding committee member of the Cook Honors College at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He currently serves as board member for the Kaleidoscope Project and the Shady Lane School.