Kris Van Nest
Host / Executive Producer
As a dad, I know parents are always facing choices on how to best prepare our children for the future and that kids want– need– to be excited by creative learning. Inspired by my son Blake and original work by Sir Ken Robinson, I’m currently on a mission to find what works to create inspired learning to share with other parents, families, educators, and caregivers.
learning works best when it’s dynamic, fun, & empowering
I’ve spent the last 8 years actively exploring learning as a father, over 10 years around the world as a professional off-road driving instructor and precision driver, and have created and hosted several television shows on adventure learning – what I’ve found is that learning isn’t one size fits all, and it works best when it’s dynamic, fun, and empowering.
|Makerspace at Newark Museum||Concordia Learning Center / St Joseph’s School for the Blind||St Joseph’s School for the Blind|
Since 1997, adventure learner Kris Van Nest has criss-crossed the globe finding the inspired innovations in learning that will empower the next generation. A professional educator, nationally televised producer and host, and off-road driving adventurer, Kris Van Nest is Founder, Host, and Executive Producer of the online media network THISLEARNING®. THISLEARNING uses online television and crowdsourced community involvement to promote the discovery, sharing, and exchange of ideas to inspire learning.
Adventure Travel & Competition
After being voted 1996’s Best New Guide of the Year at Pocono Whitewater, in Lehighton, PA, Kris expanded his interests to include international travel and off-road driving. For Camel Trophy Mongolia ’97, competition judges selected forty team members from an international pool of over a million applicants. After a grueling schedule of training and selection in the United States and Europe, Kris was ranked 1st for Team U.S.A. He and his teammate Doug Mays were chosen to represent the United States as they spent over three weeks driving more than 1,800 miles across Mongolia, from frozen Lake Khovsgol in the north, to the Gobi Desert in the south. In addition to off-road driving, the competition featured mountain biking, kayaking, and map-and-compass orienteering.
In 1998 Kris joined the Competition Staff developing the route for Camel Trophy Tierra del Fuego. The development required two months of off-road driving from Tierra del Fuego to Santiago and back. The adventure took them through snow, desert, and jungle, and introduced Kris to the area’s unique peoples and cultures.
With over ten years’ experience working as a professional off-road driving instructor, Kris served as a consultant to major SUV brands around the world. His skills have taken him to Canada, Spain, Korea, Mongolia, Chile, Argentina, and across the United States. He has appeared in film, television, and industrial lead precision driving roles. He has developed and led four-wheel-drive instructional seminars and guided events, and worked internationally as an off-road adventure competition developer.
In 1995, Kris combined his practical instructional experience with his interest in television. He executive produced, post-produced, and hosted the weekly adventure/sports television series FREESPORT-TV, a how-to/where-to guide for outdoor enthusiasts. In 2000, Kris developed, pitched, hosted, and executive produced the national weekly television series Trekken sponsored by Jeep® and broadcast on the DiSH Network. Trekken explored some of the most challenging and breath-taking off-road destinations in the US, and featured segments on historical exploration, a wide range of off-road driving, and how-to guides. Both series combined Kris’s interests in local histories and cultures with his love of the outdoors, exploration, learning, and adventure.
Education and Board Membership
Kris holds a Bachelor of Arts in Cognitive Science and Artificial Intelligence (with a minor in Anthropology) and a Master of Science in Educational Technology from Lehigh University. He has completed credits towards a Doctorate in Education in the Educational Psychology: Human Cognition and Learning/Intelligent Technologies program at Columbia University’s Teachers College, as well as the Production Certificate Program at New York University’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies (NYU/SPCS). Kris focused many of his class projects at Columbia on the psychology of instruction and incorporated many of his studies into his off-road driving consulting and instruction. Kris also participated in a Summer Course in Artificial Neural Networks from the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom.
Kris serves as Technology Director on the Board of Trustees of Art House Productions, Inc., a nonprofit community arts organization in Jersey City, New Jersey. He is also a member of Art House’s Business Planning Committee.
Inspired by a class taught by renowned acting coach Brian O’Neil, Kris created and developed the beta CastingNotes™ project, a performing arts journal that lets performers stay organized, track their progress, and network with others working in their fields. CastingNotes also assisted new performers in organizing and highlighting their work for better representation and Internet search results.
Kris created theunpaved™ community project to bring together off-road driving enthusiasts. He also worked on developing an Earth Rights Watch™ program. Conceived for the Knight News Challenge, Earth Rights Watch aimed to provide a central location for raising awareness of, and providing public-sourced solutions for, sustainable living at local and regional levels.
Kris previously worked as Director and Lead Multimedia Developer at Intelligent Applications Development in Bethlehem, PA. He helped develop The Thoughtful Reporter, a learning environment that helped students acquire higher order, critical thinking skills.
Away From the Spotlight
Kris is the proud father of Blake, a very fun and adventurous eight-year-old boy. In his off hours, Kris enjoys adventuring with his son and family, working out to P90X, running in Jersey City and reading almost anything by Neal Stephenson.