Family and wildlands
I share life with an incredible wife and two equally incredible sons, live on the coast of Maine and work globally. I like to run, hike, backpack, and boat in remote wildlands and believe wholeheartedly they should be kept wild. I also like to grow food and contribute however possible in our local community networks. Over the last 20 years I have worked across the world and on many projects in the fields of human learning, technology and education.
My deepest inspiration is derived from my family and the individuals I work with who are dedicated to problem-solving for our collective futures.
Though that guides
I am moved by the work of Ivan Illich, Seymour Papert, Colin Ward, Elise Boulding, Kurt Hahn, Stephen Downes, James Beane, Reggio Emilia, Shoshana Zuboff, Carmelita Hinton, Ted Sizer and many more who hold children and society as self-determined.
I am the Co-Founder and a Managing Partner of This Time of Now and help organizations, companies and governments around the world solve intractable problems. The work I do brings me close to an exciting and diverse set of individuals, learning experiences and all parts of the research, design and launch process for complex projects.
I have designed learning ecologies in rural Alaska, Maine and Dubai, globally recognized schools in Chicago and Dubai and multiple programs helping re-theorize and shape human learning in a world of unprecedented complexity.
I work with dedicated, compassionate and talented people to solve intractable problems and see frontiers of possibility.
Some of my projects -->
Institute for AI and Robotics in Education
Smart Systems for E-Residency
A Digital Learning Ecosystem for Refugees and those most in need.
A unique digital learning ecosystem where students ages 6-18 from the UAE and around the region build an educational pathway relevant to their needs, interests and futures. Designed to meet the ambitious goals of the Arab world and at the same time, meet and exceed the mandates from ministries, countries and communities for education that is organized, recognized and effective.
Location: Dubai and Region
The Rise of Co-Learning: The 100 Roads Movement
Families want more than traditional forms of education can offer — they want to understand their progress toward traditional credentials (high school diploma for instance) but to also consistently discover and connect new learning opportunities and build new knowledge, mindsets and skillsets. They want to see the world as a landscape of learning to gain critical and increasingly mandatory experience for civic engagement, university, and the workplace. Connecting learning from formal, informal, and self-directed settings is essential for learners today as we face a world of unprecedented complexity and possibility. Colearning Communities are "ecosystems of services" that provide tools, platforms and shifts in social relationships to inspire new ways to learn, work and live. In short, colearning helps build strong communities, families and individuals who see new things and ways to learn across online and physical landscapes. We are working to build and expand on Workspace Education toward a new generation of colearning communities across the US and world. It resonates deeply for me that humans have been learning together in caring, self organized communities for millions of years. Today, bringing families, learners, educators and professionals together into new contexts of learning has never been more important.
Flexible, Experiential, Residential
There is a compelling need for a new generation of boarding schools designed with the educational needs, interests, and capabilities of individuals at heart. This offering will propel a new generation of self-sufficient, entrepreneurial, academically prepared, and globally connected learners. I am working on a lower cost alternative with a highly flexible framework and experiential curriculum that suits todays discerning learners and families.
Staus: In Design
Learning for the Next Billion: University X
The world needs a meaningful catalyst at the frontier of global education and learning. In a current project reimagining post secondary education, knowledge, experience and systems proven to work are being re-combined with the foresight, design and pragmatic imagination necessary to take bold actionable steps in human learning for the next 100 years. This project and approach will provide a world altering experience for current and future generations of learners while also provide the world with critical global solutions.
Location: Middle East
Launch: Early 2021
An Ecology of Pathways
From late 2017 to late 2018 I designed a complete replacement for the secondary and undergraduate education system with partners GEMS Education, The Executives Office, Dubai Future Foundation in Dubai and The Education and Human Resources Council of the UAE Cabinet. The project features themed and personalized pathways that aggregate credentials from formal and informal learning environments.
Status: On Hold
Location: Middle East
A Field Studies School & A School for interdisciplinary Robotics and Computational Thinking
From 2013-2017 I designed and helped launch two international schools. Nations Academy (Dubai — merged with Dubai American Academy 2017) used an interdisciplinary studio model integrating robotics and computational thinking across the US curriculum. Every class was a maker-space and the school pushed the bounds of what was possible in international education.
GEMS World Academy Chicago was designed as an IB Continuum school that wove extensive field studies and mobile learning across the city of Chicago and a unique student driven, constructionist praxis across the school. This school pushed the boundaries of where learning can and possibly should happen and the participatory teacher professional learning necessary to transform traditional education.
Status: In Operation
Location: Middle East and Chicago
Launchpad for Life
In 2013 co-designed the Bridge Year at Kieve-Wavus. The core of the Bridge Year was a ubiquitous experiential learning experience, a mixture of personal learning plan driven student directed project based learning and the meaningful integration of standards and extensive field studies to prepare rising 9th graders for their next steps.
Status: Waiting for the right moment
A Mesh Network of Learning
In 2012 I foundedNetworked Learning Ecology North America
(NLENA) which represents a participatory and networked vision for the future of learning from birth, through working years and into later life.
A Mutation for Education
In 2010 I co-founded Global Civ a four-year design-based research project and learning partnership between Shoshana Zuboff/ and Jake and Jim Maxmin (d.2017). New in almost every way, Global Civ is a learning partnership between individual learners, mentors, and organizations from around the world. In its first year pilot program, an individual learner based in Midcoast Maine will co-design a rigorous program of study with mentors in all academic disciplines and partner with Marine Scientists, Indigenous leaders, organic farmers, historians, authors, and other learners from North America New Zealand and Africa.
Research and Design for New Ecologies of Education
In 2009, I founded the Institute for Global Civic Culture a non profit organization which supported the ideation, research, development and deployment of new learning ecologies. Focused on the individual and our interconnected world, the institute had a vision of uniting young people throughout the world through rigorous, socially relevant and collaborative learning spaces. Beyond research, the Institute launched a new educational ecology, The Global Civ Pilot program.
Experiential Education for Rural Alaska
In 1999, I co-founded the Northern Wildlands Learning Center, based outside of Haines Alaska. WLC, focused on leadership and an experiential education for Southeast youth and as a hub for modern/rural living, wilderness skills and practice.
I am always happy to connect with people who are doing good in the world so please be in touch if you would like to collaborate. How to contact me
Long form Bio
Thomas brings extensive experience in foresight, design, and the launch of new learning ecologies across both the private and public sectors.
His deep expertise includes strategy, innovation, research, design, all aspects of the start up process, educational practice and technology. He is a globally recognized leader, designer and advisor working to transform education and learning systems. His work has influenced hundreds of schools and learning environments across the world.
Over a 20 year career in the education, technology and design he has worked with large education and technology companies states and governments.
In the early 2000’s Thomas helped design the largest technology and learning initiative in the world at that time, The Maine Learning and Technology Initiative. He went on to design cutting edge charter schools in the Edvisions Collective.
In 2014, Thomas designed GEMS World Academy - Chicago and then in 2015, Nations Academy -Dubai. He architected the merger of Nations Academy and Dubai American Academy in 2016. In 2017, Thomas worked with the government of Dubai to design Dubai Future Campus — a complete replacement for the K-16 school environment.
His design includes new systems and architectures for human learning, next generation fusion of work and education, new forms of teaching, research and professional learning, interdisciplinary studies, experiential education, student directed learning, new forms of technology in education, credentialing and certification (ePortfolios, badges, blockchain) and more.
In 2019 Thomas co-founded This Time of Now (TTON), a global research and design lab focused on learning technology and new systems, powered by an interdisciplinary set of committed leaders at the top of their fields. Through TTON he has worked on a range of global education and life-long learning projects. These projects currently focus on systems mutation in learning, education and healthcare.
In 2020, Thomas is focusing his work on expanding the network of Colearning Communities across the US and the world.
Thomas has a BA in History from University of Puget Sound, an MA in Education from the University of Maine, where he studied under the democratic education theorists and practitioners Dr. Edward Brazee and Dr. Gert Nesin. His doctoral research with Dr. Brazee focused broadly on how network learning, both online and face to face can cultivate distributed models of education and deschooling.