A little about Tom
from classroom teacher to web-based educational designer
Here’s this thing called the web. Connect it to classrooms. Can you make the most of it? This was the challenge that led me from the life of a classroom teacher to that of an online educator. And it turns out that most of education is now confronted with the same challenge: what do we do with the Web? Yet many teachers face other challenges many times daily. I taught for 10 years so I’m pretty familiar with what it’s like to try your hardest at the most important job in the world and then add the dimension of fiddling with computers on top of it all. Since 1995, I’ve been out of the traditional classroom, learning to work the web for education. Read the ozline story to see what we do or check the résumé below (or download a version in pdf).
I began this career in education loving life as a high school English Teacher. After about ten years of this, I received a three-year fellowship during which two colleagues and I developed eLearning activities and sites for educators and students. Being the mid-90s and the early days of the Web, we were able to make a mark and I was off-and-running as an online educator and consultant. This made our family’s move to Australia in 1998 a smoother transition as I continued to develop online activities, create Web sites, write articles and lead hands-on workshops. Since then I’ve been working continuously to make learning in schools as real, rich and relevant as possible (the New 3Rs). It seems every year of two, I add something else to solve a part of the problem. What problem? The fact that when we scaled up education to suit the large numbers of students in the 19th and 20th centuries, we made the best of what we had and created “Assembly Line Schools.” Limited staff and resources meant that a “one-size-fits-all” approach with year groups and content areas was the best option. Most of my work attempts to use technology to dissolve this artificial constraint and to make learning more human and meaningful – which research overwhelmingly finds leads to better results.
Here is a more detailed look(with links) to at the things that interest and drive me. First, during high school and as a creative writing major at university, I have always liked to write and found that doing so is a main way I gain insights. A selection of articles are linked on the Writings page. These insights typically find their way into the keynote presentations I make at educational technology conferences. One of these keynotes can be viewed (from the CEFPI conference in 2011). Along with presentations, I frequently lead hands-on workshops for teacher groups and schools.
Main Focus since 2011
I’ve been working on a model for a new way of schooling that I call Next Era Ed (pdf overview). I’m working on a book that argues that we can shift our schools away from the 20th Century’s mechanistic mass production approach to one that can accommodate each individual’s joy of learning. The book clearly establishes where our schools are “broken” and offers a comprehensive, evidence-based model to begin the fix.
SUMMARY OF QUALIFICATIONS
- Co-developer of the WebQuest strategy
- Conference keynote presenter on integrating technology & learning
- Published author in professional journals
- Curriculum designer of Web-based learning activities
- Innovative creator of new models for education
- Designer and developer of interactive software
- Successful facilitator of professional learning for teachers
- Expansive knowledge of research on learning theories
- Proved ability to complete projects of the highest quality
- Long history of designing innovative e-learning solutions
- Recognised at county level as Teacher of the Year (San Diego, USA)