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Detail Mentor Profile: Michael Maser

The Transformative Learning Foundation


Michael Maser

Simon Fraser University M.A. 1997

Michael has been an innovative educator for 25+ years. He is a co-founder of both SelfDesign Learning Community (2002) and Virtual High Learning Community (1993). He is a passionate advocate and pioneer in the field of holistic, personalized learning and he has worked with, and continues to work with learners of all ages. Michael’s book, ‘Learn Your Way! SelfDesigning the Life You Really Want, Starting Now’ (2011) is a recommended health and career planning text in BC schools. In 2006 he received a Prime Minister’s award from the Canadian federal government. In 2007 Michael launched ‘Surpass’ leadership program for teens which he ran for 10 years. In 2017 Michael began a PhD at Simon Fraser University (Vancouver), focusing his research on personalizing learning. Michael has long been a professional writer and journalist, and he is a former geologist. He lives in Gibsons, British Columbia, Canada.


  • Ph.D. candidate Simon Fraser University, 2017-
  • Queens University B.Ed. 1987
  • Ryerson University B.A. Journalism 1985
  • University of British Columbia B.Sc. Geology, 1981


Main Interest

Personalized holistic learning, SelfDesigning, neurobiology of learning, ‘Personal Ecolography’, self-responsible learning, parenting, natural history and science, environmental sustainability, writing & journalism, music, Makers-DIY-Gaming movements.

Gibsons on the Sunshine Coast in British Columbia.


SDGI Courses

SD 513 Neurobiology and Learning (3 credits)

How does learning actually occur in humans? The growing knowledge from the neuro- and cognitive sciences provides a rich and universal framework to better understand the needs of our children and teens, including cognitive development as well as emotional and motivational systems of the brain. The goal of this course is to provide a foundation in the basic functions (anatomy, physiology and pharmacology) of the brain as they relate to human development and the neurobiology of learning. With this knowledge educators will have universal frameworks and developmental guidelines to understand the principles of learning as they apply to all children and youth. The final project will focus on learners’ personal research interests about learning and the brain.

PM 538: Personalizing Learning (3 credits)

Personalizing Learning is a hallmark of educational change throughout North America, characterized by different forms and approaches and various uses of technology.

In this course learners will explore various applications of Personalized Learning (PL) in coaching and educational settings, and they will deepen their own experiences of PL from the perspective of learner, educator, and administrator. In praxis, they will work individually and collaboratively with course colleagues designing and reviewing applications of PL in a learning community setting, following from which they will reflect on their results as they seek to better understand where PL is most vibrant and ‘alive’, personally and professionally.

PM 518: Languaging for Self-Empowerment (3 credits)

SelfDesign methodology has evolved from various domains, including insights from the field of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). Learners in this course gain an understanding of and initial skills in basic NLP insights and techniques, and others (e.g. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy [CBT], ‘Dynamic Hermeneutics’), with a focus on using languaging skills in goal-setting, self-assessment and creating rapport with others. The course focuses on building knowledge of theory and application of languaging skills through example, practice, and discussion of various techniques — Discussion will also focus on how languaging skills may be used to support self-empowerment in the service of personal and professional goals, as well as parenting and other relation-building activities.

SD 528 Our Learning Ecology (3 credits)

Each person has a unique way of constructing their worldview as they grow, reflecting relational dynamics among diverse genetic, cultural and epigenetic influences. This can be considered akin to a learning ecology. In this course we will explore new concepts of brain development, intelligence and competency and how new insights of who we “really are”, fundamentally, can apply to ourselves and others. Perspectives for consideration will be personal as well as educational and also that of parent or caregiver to children and youth.

Overall, learners in this course will develop new understandings of learning and nurturing learning in others. And, with education in mind, we’ll consider how learning arising through travel, gaming, sports, personal interests and sensibilities, play and other modes can be better seen and validated as the significant learning experiences they are.


  • Neuroscience and Learning – SDGI webinar series, winter 2018
  • Personal ‘Ecolography’ – SDGI webinar, winter 2016
  • Learning Your Way – SDGI webinar, fall 2014


Publications/Presentations/Professional Projects

  • Learn Your Way! SelfDesigning the Life You Really Want, Starting Now (ebook); 2011, SelfDesign Learning Systems, Inc.;
  • Dreaming Dragon Consulting (monthly blog);
  • Gold Mad (novel); 2013, MW Publications,
  • Virtual High: Toward an Ecology of Being; 1997, M.A. Thesis, Simon Fraser University; available upon request


  • Choose News project to reduce violent content of TV and radio news; launched 2015;