AppCamp 2017 Agenda

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    Welcome to the 8th Annual Dust or Magic AppCamp at Asilomar

    A two-day huddle of the top minds in children’s interactive media, plus a one-day stand-alone conference. 

    WHAT TO BRING: Relaxed, casual clothing (layers are best); arrive well-rested with charged batteries.

    DEMOS: If you plan on doing a 5 minute demo, read this for suggestions on format and feedback.

    A SUNDAY ONLY OPTION: Because of Apple’s WWDC, we’ve created a one-day Children’s App Design Conference, designed for those with limited time and resources.

    Early bird tickets are $399 for the first 20 seats; $600 per seat after  (or free for registered Dust or Magic AppCamp attendees). Supervised children are always welcome to come and go during the conference.

    NO SELLING PLEASE: Dust or Magic is as commercial free as possible. It is self-funded with no affiliation with Apple, Google or sponsors. Participants are asked to turn off  “selling” and turn on “sharing” for the sake of improving this emerging field, and helping one another

    A “swag table” is provided for flyers, white papers or business cards. This is a free-exchange area for participants to share such things as promo codes, white papers, book announcements or other promotional items. Bring about 50 copies.


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    Friday June 2, 2017

    1:00 Room checkin (Phoebe Snow Social Hall)

    3:00 Check into Dust or Magic (Scripps Hall)
    Find Barbara to pick up your materials. It will contain your name tag, handouts and so on.

    5:00 Essential Topics for 2017

    We’ll set the stage for our next 36 hours together, so all the presenters can contextualize their talks. We’ll begin by naming the key trend setting apps; including lessons learned from the KAPi prize and the BolognaRagazzi Digital Award. These will include:

    • Art by Peter Reynolds

      Art by Peter Reynolds

      Who’s making money, and how?  Small app studios known for high quality work are struggling or are being gobbled up by larger groups. What’s the best career path for a small, smart designer?

    • VR and AR. The viewers are here and the platforms defined. What’s working? What are some common mistakes?
    • How to properly sell an app to a kid. Besides the paid, free, freemium, paymium, and subscription models, what’s the best technique to promote new content to a young audience?
    • What does “Diversity in Apps” really mean? Who’s doing the best work and who needs to improve? How do you make an app balanced in terms of gender and ethnic content, without boiling out all the originality?


      State of the “non-iOS.” Has there been any progress for kids from Windows, Amazon, Google Play, Chrome or any of the gaming platforms? What’s going on with the subscription model?

    • Children’s App news.  Nominations with discussion for Magic and Dust of 2017 — Unity and other essential tools, examples of innovation and excellence; biggest train wrecks — what went wrong, why and how to learn from other people’s mistakes.
    • Hardware news and trends. Larger tablets, wearables, watches and augmented reality (especially Oculus and Google cardboard). How interactive media is moving beyond the touch screen.
    6:00 PM Dinner & Visit to the Pacific Beach

    Welcome to AppCamp 8: A special place, a special time


    8:00 Annual State of the Children’s App Panel

    An informal, in-depth review and discussion of the children’s app market with some of the best minds in the space.

    Saturday June 3, 2017

    7:00-8:15  am Breakfast Buffet (dining hall)
    8:30 The Psychology of Interactive Design
    Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 5.30.46 AMWe’ll boil down a one semester TCNJ course into one hour. This talk is short, sweet and to the point; and it’s based on the continually updated ibook Child Development 101 for the Designers of Children’s Interactive Media, by Warren Buckleitner (Dust or Magic participants get a free download code; and a hard copy is in your handout packet). 
    9:30 Designer Micro Jam

    Small groups will work together to explore emerging opportunities and upcoming challenges, from ROI (Return on Investment) to improving a play pattern.  With Daren Carstens and Barbara Chamberlin.

    10:15 Nice Touch — 60 second demos. An informal exploration with show and tell of some of the latest HCI “best practice” applied to multi-touch settings for children (and adults).

    1045: Demos

    11:30 Mark Schlichting Mini Masterclass

    • Dust spotting
    • Tips and tricks
    • Indicators of Magic 
    • What’s next? 

    12:00 Lunch

    1:00 App Case Study 

    Tom Buyckx

    Tom Buyckx

    The Dr. Panda Story

    Tom Buyckx, CCO of Dr. Panda.

    Based in China, Dr. Panda creates playful apps with an educational twist. Each title as an earned reputation for being safe and gimmick free, with no in-app purchases or third-party advertising.  Why a panda? The answer is simple: the company is located in the city of Chengdu in China, which is the home of the giant panda. The panda is a symbol of pride for the people in Chengdu, and because of that the team feels especially connected to this fascinating creature.


    2:15 Demos

    3:00 Kid Panel 

    We ask the experts about how they use technology.

    5:00 Case studies in dust and magic.

     6:00-7:30 Dinner & Marshmallow Roast

    7:40 Group photo (optional)




    Sunday June 4, 2017

    7:00-8:15  am Breakfast Buffet (dining hall)

    8:30 Demos and feedback

    The Children’s App Design Conference

    A conference inside AppCamp. This is a stand-alone event designed to accompany and complement the AppCamp agenda, by delivering the lessons learned from the previous two days, to a more general audience. It combines AppFest, giving smaller developers an affordable way to network, do a demo, and also attend WWDC, which starts on Monday.

    10:00  Welcome

    1bjornjeffery_6000:30 Bjorn Jeffrey (Toca Boca). What in the tarnation happened to TocaTV?

    11:00 Talks that need to be recorded. A series of 15 minute “TED” style talks to be given in front of the Dust or Magic audience.

    12:00 Lunch

    1:00 Panel: The State of the Children’s App Panel. A wide ranging discussion on the state of children’s interactive media with Fingerprint’s Nancy Macintyre,  Toca Boca’s Bjorn Jeffrey and  Dr. Panda’s Tom Buyckx. This is going to be very interesting.

    2:00 Demos with feedback

    3:00 Nice Touches in AR, VR, Unity and toy/App/book integration. A hands on workshop. Test out in person many of the new products that are raising the bar in children’s interactive media.

    5;00 Conclusion and Evaluations

    Van departs for San José


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    Dust or Magic AppCamp attracts amazing speakers. Check back frequently; speakers and details can change. These speakers have confirmed so far.

    • Barbara Chamberlin

      Barbara Chamberlin 

      Barbara Chamberlin directs game development at New Mexico State University's Learning Games Lab.

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    • Tom Buyckx

      Tom Buyckx

      Tom Buyckx 

      Tom Buyckx leads the commercial side of Dr.Panda, serving as the CCO. This includes marketing, sales and new business development. Based in China, Dr. Panda creates playful apps with an educational twist. Each title as an earned reputation for being safe and gimmick free, with no in-app purchases or third-party advertising.  Why a panda? The answer is simple: the company is located in the city of Chengdu in China, which is the home of the giant panda. The panda is a symbol of pride for the people in Chengdu, and because of that the team feels especially connec...

      Continue reading 

    • Daren Carstens

      Daren Carstens 

      Daren Carstens founded Carstens Studios Inc., where he authors, designs, programs and develops educational products for children. He has worked in K-12 educational publishing for 20 years, and his work has received many awards including the prestigious international Bologna Children's Book Fair New Media Prize in the Best Educational Software category, 2010 & 2011 Parents' Choice Gold Awards - Parents' Choice Foundation, and 2010 & 2011 Editor's Choice Awards - Children's Technology Review. Daren combines the rare talent of a thorough understanding of learning processe...

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    • Warren Buckleitner

      Warren Buckleitner 

      Warren Buckleitner is an educational psychologist who reviews children's interactive media. He's been a preschool, elementary and college teacher in TCNJ's IMM program. He is the founding editor of Children's Technology Review ( He speaks at education and library conferences, and contributes content books and publications, including a decade of children's tech coverage for the New York Times. He holds a degree in elementary education from Central Michigan University (Cum Laude), an MA in early childhood edu...

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    • Björn Jeffery

      Björn Jeffery 

      Björn Jeffery is the CEO and co-founder of Toca Boca, a play studio that makes digital toys for touchscreen devices. Since 2011, they have released 27 products that has sold in over 215 countries worldwide, and downloads of over 85 million in April 2015. Toca Boca has won numerous awards for their apps, including Nappa Gold and iKids twice, 10 Parents Choice Awards and the 2013 KAPi for Most Pioneering Team in Children’s Technology. In 2015, Toca Boca was acquired by Canadian toy maker Spin-Master. Previously, he was Director of Future Media & Technology at Bonnier Rese...

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    • Nancy MacIntyre

      Nancy MacIntyre 

      Nancy MacIntyre is CEO and Co-Founder of  Fingerprint Digital, Inc.  a global mobile technology company focused on the children's market for education and entertainment products and services. Founded in 2011 and funded by Corus Entertainment, Dreamworks, Reed Elsevier, and GSV,  Fingerprint’s proprietary technology platform and expansive library of over 4000 fun learning games, books, and videos supports award winning services Samsung Kids, Verizon Gizmo Learning,...

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    • Connie Bossert

      Connie Bossert 

      Connie Bossert is president and CEO of Fairlady Media, Inc., an independent game studio near Raleigh, NC. Connie and her husband James co-founded the company in 2009, and have produced more than 30 games for iPhone and iPad with millions of downloads and counting. The company specializes in development of family-friendly and educational mobile games and has partnered with companies such as Sesame Street, Houghton-Mifflin, Callaway Digital Arts, Sanrio, Hearst Corporation, and American Greetings to create the highest-quality products in the market. Connie holds ...

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    • Vikas Gupta

      Vikas Gupta 

      As the founder and CEO of Wonder Workshop, Vikas drives the Wonder Workshop’s vision, strategy, and growth as it brings products into the hands of children around the world. Vikas learned to program using BASIC when he was 14 years old and later went on to start a company, Jambool, that was acquired by Google in 2010. Previously he led the payments and web services groups at Amazon. Vikas is a father of two, and it was the time he spent with his daughter, his first child, that inspired him to start Wonder Workshop.

      Continue reading 

  • 2017 Events

    Bologna Masterclass • Apr. 2, Bologna, Italy • Register
    AppCamp • Jun. 2-4, Asilomar, CA • Register
    Highlights Retreat • Oct. 22-24, Boyds Mills, PA • Register
    Institute • Nov. 5-7, Lambertville, NJ • Register

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  • Conference testimonials


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      Sanj KharbandaVP Digital Strategy, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Dust or Magic Hurricane Edition

      "Unique, inspiring, eye-opening. I would recommend anyone involved in the interactive space for kids to attend at least one. Thank you to everyone for sharing and being an inspiration."

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      Roby JohnCEO, TapToLearn, Dust or Magic Hurricane Edition

      "Thanks for a great first Dust or Magic. Made it totally worth flying all the way in from Mumbai."

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      Valerie ConnellVP Product & Market Strategy, The Waterford Institute, Dust or Magic 2010

      "Top Notch conference with A-list attendees - a pleasure to be included with the best of the best!"

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      Kate WilsonFounder & Managing Director, Nosy Crow, Dust or Magic 2011

      "Relevant, invigorating and mind expanding: a great event. Warren's energetic, warm and informal style of communication and facilitation is key."

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      Krista MarksDust or Magic 2011

      "The best part is the inspiration that comes from being with a group of like minded, passionate, talented humans."

    • Jens Peter de Pedro

      Jens Peter de PedroPlay Designer, Toca Boca, Dust or Magic Hurricane Edition

      "If you are in Children's Interactive Media it's like coming to Church. You got to go for spiritual reasons. And it's only once a year!"

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      Scott TraylorPresident, 360KID, DM '13 Institute

      "Dust or Magic Fall is a must attend event to help increase chances of making successful children's new media products."

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      Charity GerbrandtCreative Lead, Disney Club Penguin, DM Institute '13

      "So great to share with like-minded people in a low pressure, no drama environment. Great size, space and leadership."

    • Kimberley SorensonThe Waterford Institute, Dust or Magic Highlights Foundation 2015

      "A wonderful opportunity to get down and dirty with a lot of different voices in a protected space. Inspiring + energizing on all conceivable levels -- many many thanks."

    • JCC

      Jayne ClarePresident, Teachers With Apps, Dust or Magic Highlights 2015

      "Leaving with a wealth of new knowledge, friends, ideas and inspiration!"

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      Erin ReillyCreative Director, Annenberg Innovation Lab at USC, Dust or Magic eBook Retreat 2013

      "This was just the retreat I needed to learn and to be inspired by others." 

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      Scott TraylorPresident, 360KID, DM 2002-2010

      "Come for toys, stay for friendship; leave with knowledge."

    • jlodahl

      Jesper LodahlCEO, SmartTots, Dust or Magic Hurricane Edition

      "Great crowd, great minds, great learning experience."

    • Hans WagnerOwner, Computer Explorers, Dust or Magic 2014

      "Just soaked in all of it. Great environment!"

    • Megan SmithSenior Designer, Interactive Media, Highlights for Children, Dust or Magic 2014

      "Warren and Daren really made everyone feel relevant and comfortable. Perfect balance of healthy criticism and ideas for growth."

    • aleen

      Aleen SteinCEO, Organa, Dust or Magic 2014

      "Even though I'm not making apps right now, exciting and relevant to my life."

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      Lorraine AkemannMoms With Apps

      While there is no shortage of conferences on kids and tech, Dust or Magic stands out in the crowd. This might be because attendees are required to leave their egos at home, or cast them into the ocean until the sessions are finished.