Jonathan Mann has long been passionate in helping teachers to understand how technology can help their students. In his own learning experiences, he didn’t always have an easy time of it, but like he’s doing in his business today—he’s surrounded himself with supportive people with a strong will to help. After studying business marketing at Arizona State, he founded channelBOOST, a tech marketing firm, and he served on Inspiration Software’s management team for eight years while also voluntering for the Big Brothers organization. His business partner, Kendra Grant—a former assistant principal, classroom teacher, librarian media specialist, special education teacher, professional learning instructor and teacher coach—is the co-founder of Sublime Learning. Together, they’ve built it into a premier site of professional learning services for educators seeking an experience that transcends the traditional and helps them stay ahead of the learning curve. With a hand-picked team of educators, technology and business experts, Jonathan’s company has made it their business to truly help teachers integrate technology into their classrooms to help their students achieve to their highest potential. Here Jonathan shares his thoughts on education, technology and the future of learning.
Victor: Why did you create Sublime Learning™?
Jonathan: We wanted to promote using technology interactively to reach all students and support teachers by giving them the tools they needed. We offer a full range of professional learning services to meet the needs of every learner, capitalizing on technology schools already own.
Victor: What does the name mean?
Victor: What is it? Who created it?
Jonathan: My business partner, Kendra Grant, and I developed Sublime Learning to offer a full range of professional learning services, from our online libraries (“eTeachables”) to onsite/online professional development and everything in between. We model educators to integrate best practice teaching strategies for both generalized and differentiated instruction.
Victor: What does it do? What are the benefits?
Jonathan: As an example, a subscription to one of our eTeachable libraries affords teachers 24/7 learning tools for their classrooms. They can easily search from hundreds of eTeachable topics, watch a brief video tutorial, download a customizable template and be ready to teach their lesson in minutes. Then, they can share those resources and outcomes with others in their school or district.
Victor: How is it unique from other similar products/services?
Jonathan: In addition to building on a sound pedagogical foundation from some of the industry’s great leaders, we wanted to capitalize upon districts’ existing software investments. That is, we didn’t want to reinvent the wheel but rather better use the technology tools already present so schools get the fullest return on investment while students reap the benefits of transformational teaching with technology.
Victor: When was it developed? What is something interesting or relevant about its development history?
Jonathan: Probably the most interesting thing is that Kendra and I have the same passion that arose from very different backgrounds. She’s built a career around special education, library sciences and the use of technology in the classroom to benefit all learners. I myself struggled in school until I found that technology could really transform learning and help people become successful…and I’ve been a strong proponent of it ever since.
Victor: Where did it originate? Where can you get it now?
Jonathan: We’re based out of Portland, Oregon, but have schools across the US, Canada and the Bahamas using our products. Check our website for more info: www.sublimelearning.com.
Victor: What are some examples of it in action?
Jonathan: One of the greatest things we’ve heard is from someone who always wrestled with math. After watching our eTeachables, she said, “If someone had taught me this way when I was in school, I could have been a mathematician!” By giving the teachers these easy, timely tools to teach well, the students benefit immensely—from kindergarten through middle school, from reading to math to critical thinking skills.
Victor: Who is it particularly tailored for? Who is it NOT for?
Jonathan: It’s tailored for educators who have started to incorporate technology into their classrooms. It’s not going to work with anyone stuck in the Paleo Era without educational software for their curriculum.
Victor: What are your thoughts on education these days?
Jonathan: We are at a crossroads, with the U.S. falling from well above average to average status for reading and science, and below average in math. If we can effectively prepare teachers to integrate technology into instruction, we’ll reach students at a deeper level, meeting them where they’re at and encouraging them to stretch. Ultimately, this deeper education will boost our overall ratings to compete at the highest of levels.
Victor: What sort of formative experiences in your own education helped to inform your approach to creating Sublime Learning?
Jonathan: Like I said, I was one of those kids who struggled in school, but when I finally got a hold of technology in college, I realized I wasn’t stupid—I just needed support for my different way of learning and organizing my thoughts.
Victor: How does Sublime Learning address some of your concerns about education?
Jonathan: We know that an educator’s most precious resource is time. Our collective efforts address that by creating 24/7 learning tools for their classrooms, offering continuing education opportunities online and on site and providing online repositories to share resources and capture PD credit hours.
Victor: What is your outlook on the future of education?
Jonathan: I’m hopeful. I see that all the pieces we need are available, but we must spend the time putting that puzzle together. Getting the proper fit will determine our success of failure of our students.
Victor: What else can you tell educators and other leaders in and around education about the value of Sublime Learning? What makes you say that?
Jonathan: So much attention has been focused on buying technology and “how to use” but simply showing teachers how to use technology doesn’t work. You have to integrate it into activities they know. We emphasize “No learner left behind”; our eTeachables deliver Professional Development that focuses on the effective use of existing software like Inspiration® and Kidspiration®. They were created by educators who wanted to build a sustainable, easy-to-use model—and they’ve accomplished that.
Victor Rivero tells the story of 21st-century education transformation. He is the editor-in-chief of EdTech Digest, a magazine about education transformed through technology. He has written white papers, articles and features for schools, nonprofits and companies in the education marketplace. Write to: victor@VictorRivero.com