Thomas is the Co-Founder and a Managing Partner of This Time of Now and an independent advisor to individuals, organizations, companies and governments. Over a 25 year career, Thomas has designed and launched learning initiatives across the US and world, globally recognized schools in Chicago and Dubai and helped organizations and companies in the US and the governments of Dubai, Abu-Dhabi and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia re-theorize, design and shape new learning systems at scale. His deep expertise includes strategy, innovation, research, design, all aspects of the new ventures start up process, educational practice and technology for learning. He is a globally recognized leader, designer and advisor working to transform education and learning systems. His work proliferates new systems and architectures for human learning, next generation fusions of work and education, new forms of teaching, research and professional learning, experiential education, student directed learning, new forms of technology in learning, credentialing and certification and more.
Long form BIO and Selected Work
In the early 2000’s Thomas helped design a part of the largest technology and learning initiative in the world at that time, The Maine Learning and Technology Initiative. He went on to design and launch cutting edge charter schools in the Edvisions Collective. His work and design along side mentor, Shoshana Zuboff on multiple projects in distributive learning and education that have impacted governments and the private sector around the world.
In 2014, Thomas designed and helped launch GEMS World Academy - Chicago, a Field Studies Based IB Continuum School and then in 2015, Nations Academy - Dubai, a first of its kind Interdisciplinary Project Based International School. He architected the merger of Nations Academy and Dubai American Academy in 2016 where he oversaw the transition of 300 teachers and staff from one school to another. In 2017, Thomas worked with the government of Dubai to design Dubai Future Campus — a complete replacement for the K-16 school environment.
From 2018 Thomas co-founded This Time of Now (TTON), a global research and design lab focused on learning technology and new learning systems, powered by an interdisciplinary set of committed leaders at the top of their fields. Through TTON, Thomas has designed, advised and helped launch a range of projects including the redesign for two national founding schools for the Prime Ministers Office of Dubai, A digital learning ecosystem for refugees and those most in need for the The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, a future university for the next billion for The Executives Office in Dubai, an Emirate-wide ecosystem of knowledge for research and new institutions for the Abu Dhabi Executives Office, an Institute for AI and Robotics in Education, School of the Future and smart system for powering learning in E-Residency at NEOM in KSA.
From 2018 in his private practice Thomas has supported and advised a wide range of organizations, schools groups and edtech companies including 100 Roads (US), Templeton Academies (US), Future Focused Learning Inc.(Tokyo) Nexsquare (Dubai, MENA), Doyabi (Singapore), Headrush (US) and Colearn (US and MENA).
In 2023, Thomas is currently advising and helping build Colearn the world's first comprehensive K-12 ecosystem of services for education.
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 learning and education.
Schools and Service
Thomas is a parent ‘20 and Trustee at the Putney School in Putney Vt., is a Parent ‘14 ‘15 and former Trustee at the Riley School in Rockland ME and was a two term School Board Member (Chair for three years) of the Edgecomb Eddy School in Maine.
My deepest inspiration is derived from my family and the individuals I work with who are dedicated to problem-solving for our collective futures.
Thought 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 humans and society as self-determined.
Thomas shares his life with an incredible wife and two equally incredible sons, lives on the coast of Maine and works globally. He likes to run in forests and mountains, hike, backpack, and boat in remote wildlands and believes wholeheartedly they should be kept wild. He also likes to grow food and contribute however possible to his local community networks.
t at steelemaley.io
Sheepscot River Watershed
Chathance Lake, ME
Redesign for Two National Founding Schools
A Regional Ecosystem of Knowledge
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.
Status: 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
An Ecology of Learning 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: Dubai 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: Email me
A Mesh Network of Learning
In 2012 I founded
(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. email t at steelemaley.io