AppCamp 2017 Agenda

  • Please Note – the following is archived content:


    A two-day huddle of the top minds in children’s interactive media, plus a one-day 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” ($399 and up; or free for registered Dust or Magic AppCamp attendees).

    NO SELLING: Dust or Magic is a commercial free zone. 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.  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.

    Friday June 2, 2017

    1:00 Room check-in (Phoebe Snow Social Hall)

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

    5:00 State of the App, 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. Panelists will be drawn from the audience. Questions will include:

    • Art by Peter Reynolds

      Art by Peter Reynolds

      VR, AR and VR.  What plugins work best with Unity? Who is doing the best work? What’s working? What are some common mistakes?

    • Who’s making money, and how?  Small app studios known for high quality work are struggling or are being gobbled up by larger groups. Is there a realistic career path for a small, smart designer? Hint, ask Connie Bossert.
    • How do you properly sell an app to a child? 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?  What is the KIDMAP project and “diversity sauce?” How do you make an app balanced in terms of gender and ethnic content, without boiling out all the originality? We’ll show some examples.


      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.  We’ll take nominations for the most magical work of 2017, and discuss the train wrecks. to learn from other people’s mistakes.


    6:00 PM Dinner & Visit to the Pacific Beach
    Screen Shot 2017-04-12 at 12.01.57 PM
    8:00 Let’s Take a Global View with Mona Ewees, Teacher Trainer, Breteau Foundation

    There are no geographic or political borders in the app store. So when you publish an app in Wisconsin, you might be able to reach a child in a remote area of Africa.

    It’s been 2 years since Mona’s  last Dust or Magic talk (see Into Africa).  Mona will start off this year’s Dust or Magic AppCamp with a theme that is more important than ever — the idea that every child in the world deserves high-quality education; and that technology can provide the pipeline. Mona knows this space because she lives it. She works as a teacher trainer for the Breteau Foundation where she helps implement apps and teacher training and classroom technology implementation in the South African schools. She has been a teacher and school principal for the first 16 years of her career working both in the primary school and high school context in the United States and South Africa. She holds a Masters Degree in Math and Science Education and United States National Board Certification.  She was raised in Richmond, Virginia and lives in Cape Town, South Africa.

    Lights out…


    Saturday June 3, 2017

    IMM cookbook Logo7:00-8:15  am Breakfast Buffet (dining hall)
    8:30 New: The Interactive Designers Cookbook
    A good cook knows how to blend ingredients to make a wonderful dish. The results can be magic, or terribly bad. What are the specific ingredients of effective interactive media project? We’ll boil down a one semester TCNJ course on the psychology of interactive design into one hour. This presentation 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 Children’s Design Dash

    barb and darenWhat do you think is most important when it comes to designing for kids? Take a quick tour through issues relevant in children’s media today. Identify the most important issues in developing for kids, learn from the incredible knowledge in the room. This is your chance to explore and discuss strategies and techniques in developing for kids.

    With Daren Carstens and Barbara Chamberlin.

    10:30  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).


    Mark Schlichting

    Mark Schlichting

    Mark Schlichting 11:30 Making Magic with Mark 

    Mark Schlichting is a pioneer of the children’s digital space who has become part of the fibre of Dust or Magic. For those who have yet to hear him speak, he’s best known as the creator of original “Living Books”  — Brøderbund’s Living Books CD-ROM. With the help of his partner in crime, Barbara Chase, he’s finished Understanding Kids, Play, and Interactive Design: How to Create Games Children Love. Mark will comment on the interactive space, and share some of his tricks.


    12:00 Lunch

    Screen Shot 2017-04-21 at 9.36.40 AM

    1:00 The Dr. Panda Story 
    Tom Buyckx

    Tom Buyckx

    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.


    2:00 The Wonder Workshop Story

    dash-dotVikas Gupta, CEO, Wonder Workshop

    There’s no shortage of dust when it comes to trying to make programmable robots for children. Dash and Dot is a rare exception. Come meet the mind behind this easy to use, durable robot, and find out (perhaps) what’s next in the category of programming and toys.

    Watch this CES 2017 interview with Vikas, here.


    catalina-ito3:00 Using Apps to Build Relationships Between Adults and Children 

    Catalina Narangjo-Bock and Jennie Ito, Google. Co-engagement is powerful stuff, both for parents and children, and Google has been exploring the concept. Learn why it is important, how to make it happen, and see some examples of apps that are being used for playing together regardless if this was an intentional goal on the original design of the app.



    4:00 Jensfred Rogers. An important message from my (half) uncle

    Jensfred Rogers is Fred Roger’s confirmed* genetic half-nephew. Mr. Rogers resides in Sweden and holds half-doctorates in child development and app design. He admits that his genetic connection to Uncle* Fred is “complex” but it was confirmed by the results of a mail-in DNA test*. “A simple cheek swab explains so much,” said Jensfred over a Skype call. “I like sweaters so very much.”

    Jensfred (aka Jens) was part of the founding team at Toca Boca (e.g., Toca Hair), where he was Creative Lead. He has worked for organizations such as Swedish Television, WGBH and The United Nations.

    These days Jens is a founding member of the Alliance for Self Directed Education, fighting for the civil right of all children to learn without coercion. He has a Masters in Interactive Telecommunications from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, 1999. He also has a degree in Psychology, Education and Children’s Culture from Stockholm University. For real.   

    He actually lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two daughters where he runs a children’s interactive media consultancy. 

    5:00 Kid Panel

    We take some time to talk to some real experts to see what they’re playing and thinking about. If you are bringing children who would like to be on the panel, please let me know.

    Screen Shot 2017-04-21 at 9.50.41 AM

     6:00-7:30 Dinner & Marshmallow Roast

    7:40 PM Group photo (optional)




    8 to 10 PM Free play and Demos


    Sunday June 4, 2017

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

    8:30 Demos and feedback

    Note that we’ll be moving to a larger hall.

    10:00 The Children’s App Design Conference

    For those with limited time and/or resources, or for those coming to Apple’s WWDC, we’re offering this conference within a conference. Here’s the one day registration form on Eventbrite.  

    This is a stand-alone conference event designed to accompany and complement the AppCamp agenda. It combines some of objectives of last year’s AppFest, providing an affordable way for students or smaller developers to meet or do a demo for feedback, without the need for hotel rooms.

    10:00  Welcome and Introductions by Warren Buckleitner and Daren Carstens.

    jason_headshot10:15 Jason Krogh. Jason is one of the main minds behind the Sago Mini apps (part of Toca Boca). He’ll bring us an update on his latest apps, and share some ideas for making apps for his speciality audience — the very young.

    DEMOS (a chance to show, tell and get feedback from a rare and expert group)

    11:00 Marc Prensky — The official coiner of the term “Digital Native,” promots civilization-level change in global education.  He is founder and Executive Director of the Global Future Education Foundation and Institute

    11:30 David Kleeman — The New York Times could do better…. A suggested re-design of the Kids page.

    12:00 Lunch

    1:00 Panel: The State of the Children’s App Panel.  We’ll explore the news on Apple’s iOS, iTunes, Google Play and Android; Unity, 3D, VR and AR, and new issues related to IAP, subscriptions and making ROI. With Fingerprint’s Nancy Macintyre,  Edoki Academy’s Valerie Touze; Dr. Panda’s Tom Buyckx and Wonder Workshop’s Vikas Gupta. Moderated by Barbara Chamberlin.


    2:00 10+ Design Strategies That Will Instantly Improve the Quality of Your App by Connie Bossert.

    This will review some key points in quality app design. Each point will be followed by at least one non-example and one example that highlights the point.

    Key points include things like “Make every scene screenshot-worthy”, “Give the player choices”, “Make it snap, crackle, pop”, “Play with perspective”, “Make them laugh”, “Don’t do gimmicks”, “Create engaging characters”, “Use creative touch mechanics”, etc.

    The Demo Board from DM 2012 Hurricane Edition

    3:00 Nancy Macintyre From LeapFrog to Fingerprint. Stories of Dust and Magic. Nancy has lots of experience making and distributing name brand apps in the Android space. She’ll share some inside information on the process.

    3:30 Nice Touches in AR, VR, Unity and toy/App/book integration. In person demos of products that stole the show this year in Bologna, that need to be seen. We’ll expand on Jesse Schell’s discussion of VR from last fall, with a frank discussion on the strengths, weaknesses and potential of these new technologies.

    4:00 Demos. It’s your turn. A chance to show off your app in front of a rare and expert audience, for feedback.

    We’ll fit as many as possible into our remaining time.

    5;00 Conclusion

    Depart for San José

    Screen Shot 2017-04-21 at 9.31.14 AM


    Dust or Magic AppCamp attracts amazing speakers. Check back frequently; speakers and details can change. The following 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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    • 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.

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    • Jason Krogh

      Jason Krogh 

      Jason Krogh is the founder and CEO of Sago Sago, a company dedicated to creating the best apps for young children. Jason has designed and developed interactive media for 15 years working with clients such as the National Geographic, Sprout, Disney Jr, Vancouver Olympics and the Toronto Public Library. Jason is also the founder of the Zimmer Twins, an online storytelling platform for kids. His most recent venture started after a particularly satisfying rant with Bjorn Jeffery of Toca Boca. In short, Sago Sago was born out a shared passion f...

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    • Jens Peter de Pedro


      Jens Peter de Pedro 

      Jens Peter de Pedro (aka Jens or JP)  is CEO at Little Frogs, a children’s interactive media consultancy. He is also Experience Director at Monkimun, makers of Lingokids. Jens was part of the founding team at Toca Boca, where he was Creative Lead - Strategy and Operations. He has worked for organizations such as Swedish Television, WGBH and The United Nations. Jens is a founding member of the Alliance for Self Directed Education, fighting for the civil right of all children to learn without coercion. He has a Mast...

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    • Mona Ewees

      Mona Ewees 

      Mona is passionately driven by her belief that every single child in the world deserves a high-quality education. She is responsible for teacher training and classroom technology implementation in the Breteau Foundation's South African partner schools. She herself has been a teacher and school principal for the first 14 years of her career working both in the primary school and high school context in the United States and South Africa. Mona h...

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    • Jennie Ito

      Jennie Ito 

      Jennie Ito, Ph.D. is a Policy Expert for Google Play, focused on the Kids & Family section of the app & games Play Store. She has a Ph.D. in developmental psychology from Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada, with a specialization in children’s play and social cognition. She began her career as a Fellow in Museum Evaluation and Museum Education at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. She later worked as a con...

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    • Catalina Naranjo-Bock

      Catalina Naranjo-Bock 

      Catalina Naranjo-Bock is a Senior User Experience Researcher at Google Play, where she leads the Kids & Family UX research vertical. Prior to joining Google, Catalina led product research and design at the LEGO Group, Nickelodeon, Yahoo, and YouTube. She holds and MFA in Product Design and Human Computer Interaction (HCI) from the Ohio State university. Catalina has also served as an advisor at Stanford University, University of Berkeley, and the California College of the Arts.

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    • David Kleeman

      David Kleeman 

      Strategist, analyst, author and speaker — for more than a quarter-century, David Kleeman has led the children’s media industry in developing sustainable, kid-friendly practices. Kleeman is Senior Vice President of Global Trends f...

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    • Marc Prensky

      Marc Prensky 

      It's always nice to have a visionary around. We always love having Marc Prensky drop in to share what's new -- he was at the first ever AppCamp at Asilomar and the 2013 Institute. Here's his 2017 bio. Marc Prensky, coiner of the term “Digital Native,” is an internationally acclaimed speaker, author, consultant and “practical visionary,” promoting civilization-level change in global education.  Marc has spoken in over 40 countries, authored seven books, and published over 100 essays; his writing has been translated ...

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    • Valérie Touze

      Valérie Touze 

      Valérie Touze is the founder of Edoki Acadamy formerly know as Les Trois Elles. She has been developing apps since 2010.  Education is in the company DNA: 2 of its 3 founders have been Montessori teachers.  The company's apps cover numeracy, geometry, creativity, phonics… in 15 languages, making it an international actor.  All their are available on the App Store and 6 are now also on Android. Valérie has an international background: she grew up in Canada where she studied Business.  She then lived in France where she trained to become a Montessori teacher le...

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    • Mark Schlichting

      Mark Schlichting

      Mark Schlichting 

      Mark Schlichting is a passionate promoter for play. He is also a pioneer of the multimedia industry, an expert in children’s interactive design, and is probably best known as the creator of Brøderbund’s Living Books CD-ROM series. In 2000 Mark founded NoodleWorks Interactive, a creative consulting and production company specializing in innovative design for children. In November 2011, NoodleWorks released its’ first iPad app, a word toy called Noodle Words. His ...

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  • 2018 Events

    Masterclass • Mar. 25, Bologna, Italy • Register
    AppCamp • Jun. 1-3, Asilomar, CA • Register
    Highlights Retreat • Boyds Mills, PA
    Institute • Nov. 4-6, Lambertville, NJ • Register

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  • Conference testimonials


    • laserpinters

      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."

    • SONY DSC

      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."

    • dustormagic-peterspicture

      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!"

    • katewilson200

      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."

    • SONY DSC

      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!"

    • Scott_Traylor_200x200

      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."

    • charity 1

      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!"

    • Erin - bio pic

      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." 

    • Scott_Traylor_200x200

      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."

    • Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 4.03.01 PM

      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.