Not many people can say they’ve worked with a legend. But anyone who knew the respected and beloved founder of the Concord Consortium, Robert (Bob) Tinker, recognized that they were in the presence of one. Bob’s brilliant mind and genuine compassion were remarkable qualities that rarely come in the same person. Bob combined them in singular and inspiring fashion. Bob’s passing on June 21, 2017, is a source of sadness for us all, but it’s also a reason to remember his legacy and his unique personal qualities.
Bob Tinker founded the Concord Consortium in 1994 and served as its dynamic and passionate president until 2009. He saw in technology the power to revolutionize how people learn and teach. And he continually pushed the limits of educational technology and pedagogies, pursuing ever more innovative ideas with new collaborators and partners.
After receiving a Ph.D. in physics from MIT he taught at Amherst College and then became Director of the Technology Center for the Technical Education Research Centers (TERC) in Cambridge, where he ignited the field of educational probeware by developing Microcomputer-Based Labs (kits using probes and motion detectors).
Bob recognized the future of education before anyone else even caught a glimpse. When the Web was still young, he pioneered inquiry-based professional development and teaching, and founded one of the first and largest virtual schools for pre-college education. The Concord Consortium was the result of a Saturday morning coffee and discussion klatsch that grew from desks made of Mac boxes and old doors to an internationally recognized nonprofit with scores of employees.
Despite his renown, Bob remained deeply interested in the ideas of colleagues and friends, and trusted Concord Consortium staff to do their best work unhindered. He continued to serve on our board of directors until his death, sharing his vision for an educational revolution that would make science accessible to all students. He dedicated his life to realizing that dream.
Bob leaves his wife Barbara, sons Aaron and Dylan, five grandchildren, and many adoring colleagues, friends, mentees, and fans of his inspiring work and legacy.
We invite you to share your stories and memories of how Bob inspired you.