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EdTech Fast 5 - Jonathan Nalder on preparing for the digital revolution

March 14, 2019

Jonathan Nalder is a multi-award winning Educator of 18 years who started as a History, Drama and Learning Difficulties teacher and morphed to helping learners and teachers successfully master today’s tech. A forced exit from a traditional career path followed by a 6-month research sabbatical in 2016 left him shocked at how fast AI and new tech were changing the workforce and society. The inability of education systems to include everything that might be needed to address such a wide range of possibilities, as well as the lack of space in an already crowded curriculum led him conclude the way forward instead is to help learners know how to invent their own futures and so they can be successful no matter what tomorrow brings. Jonathan founded FutureWe.org as a response to this crisis - and with help from a dedicated launch team, ex-Principal Nick Burnett and 350+ organisations, experts and community members in 17 countries, he has created solutions such as the Future Readiness Framework bit.ly/future-mapping, ‘MakeXR.net’ lessons (AR, VR, 3D), FirstonMars.net futures scenario and supports the free empathy boosting program at bit.ly/spark-empathy.

1. What’s the most overrated topic in education right now?

Coding in most ways except one. The intent of preparing students for a fully digital future is good - but choosing just one solution which is itself already able to be done by AI is not. It is a great way to teach logical thinking skills that are key, however.

2. Does technology motivate creativity?

Yes - And especially if we divorce ourselves from a definition of tech being only that invented in the last 20 years. Creativity can come from anywhere - pegs, drawing pencils, lego. Certainly, the collaboration and content publishing opportunities that more recent tech tools bring are a boon for digital creativity - and the very fact of what they make possible is definitely motivating.

3. What app can’t you live without?

Just one? At the moment it is CoSpaces Edu which lets anyone create and publish 3D scenes straight into augmented or virtual reality is blowing my mind with what it lets teachers and students create. I’ve even become a volunteer Ambassador for the app I love it so much (which means I can share a 30 day Pro code for all ‘COSJONATHANA’).

4. What events from your own experience as a learner have informed your approach to your work in education?

As a learner, I always felt that soft skills like empathy and emotional intelligence were vital for me but never seen as valued by the schooling system. My work now is all about how educators can flip this around - and so, in particular, I am loving the free bit.ly/spark-empathy program that connects teachers via 9 scaffolded web conference lessons.

5. Which actor would play you in the movie about your life?

Ha nowadays I assume it could just be a 3D-scanned and then animated me playing me :)