Fall Institute 2016 Agenda

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    Sunday November 6, 2016


    appFestLogo-no-text2-5:00 PM AppFest East

    A chance for small, underfunded publishers or students to come and set up a “micro booth.” There is no cost, there are no strings. Attendees of Dust or Magic who arrive early can hunt for the next Pokémon GO.

    Visit the AppFest East Registration form.

    Handout & swag table. There is no selling or PR activity permitted at Dust or Magic, however, anyone is welcome to send promotional materials (handouts, fliers w/download codes, white papers and so on) for the attendees. These are kept on a separate “swag” table clearly marked as “promotional materials.” Again, no cost and no strings. Send no more than 65 copies to Dust or Magic, 120 Main Street, Flemington NJ 08822 by October 23; we’ll put them out.


    All you need is a balloon, a tablet and a marker to set up a “booth” at the free Dust or Magic AppFest.


    5:00 pm – Welcome

    “The State of Children’s Interactive Media 2016” panel with Abby Adams, Connie Bossert,  Robin Raskin, Biff Niff, Bob Tedeschi,  and Mark Schlichting. Moderated by David Kleeman.

    This year’s essential topics:

    • “TV” vs “Apps.” Or are they no longer indistinguishable? What lies ahead given the realities of YouTube Kids and Toca TV? How will content be monetized?
    • Digital Trickery and children’s media. What’s going on, and what should (realistically) be done about it?
    • Let’s understand the magic of Pokémon GO and the AR/GPS experience tipping point that happened this summer. What does it mean?
    • Is it possible to eek out a living making children’s apps?
    • Has Amazon, iTunes and Google Play made any progress since last year?
    • Noteable dust from the toy sector. What went wrong, and why.
    • Is COPPA enough in this age of digital trickery? If not, what?
    • The five most magical digital experiences of 2016, and why.
    • Let’s nominate products for the 2017 KAPi  awards.
    • That state of children’s digital storytelling.

    6:15 Dinner at the famous Lambertville Station Restaurant, where we’ve now dined informally for 16 years. (Note: this is in the old train station depot located by Bridge Street, with the train car attached).

    Welcome and Introductions (Riverside Room)

    8:00 Connie Bossert“How to Eke Out a Living on the App Store” 

    You’ve worked for many months on a wonderful new app for kids, and now it is Launch Day. With much anticipation, you wait for the App Store features to be revealed.  


    Dr. Connie Bossert

    To your great dismay, your app did not get Editor’s Choice. It did not make the front page. It didn’t even make the Kids page. It didn’t get a banner. After much hunting, you finally find your icon, in the 7th slot on the Kids 6-8 page. You might think you are alone in your disappointment. But the truth is, most of us have been there. Your story is much more common than the instant-success stories that we all reach for. Now what?  Connie will share the behind-the-scenes reality of a small company that has secured a persistent presence on the App Store while gradually increasing monthly revenue over the past 7



    November 7, 2016


    7:30 Breakfast. Riverside Room

    8:30  Quality Attributes. Part of the annual, and ongoing crash course on child development applied to the latest interactive media, by Jean Piaget, BF Skinner, John Dewey and Fred Rogers.

    9:30   Designer Karaoke. Small groups explore emerging opportunities and upcoming challenges, from ROI (Return on Investment) to improving a play pattern.  With Daren Carstens and Barbara Chamberlin.

    10:30 Demos and Nice Touch

    Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 5.03.54 PM

    Raul Gutierrez,Tinybop

    Raul Gutierrez

    11:00 Raul Gutierrez Tinybop. “A Modern Book of Miracles: Designing for the Way Children See the World.”

    Raul  was an early Apple developer (when programming for the Mac meant buying a Lisa). Raul was admitted to Princeton University as an engineer but graduated with a BA in art history after writing his thesis on Chinese Eastern Zhou bronze casting techniques. He’s worked with at Paramount Pictures and has built internet properties for Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures, Sony Pictures, Tribeca Films, Warner Brothers and others.  In 2012, he started  Tinybop in 2012. Tinybop’s first app, The Human Body, was released in August 2013, and has reached the #1 spot in the App Store’s Education charts in 143 countries.

    Screen Shot 2015-10-01 at 12.15.30 PM11:30  Emmet O’Neil StoryToys “Working with beloved licensed characters.” Some practical pointers on working with iconic beloved characters, plus some new work. It will be interesting to see how this topic ties into ideas from Raul and Theo. 


    12:00 Group Photo; a non-augmented, non-virtual lunch

    Theo Gray

    Theo Gray

    1:00 Theo Gray Fiction vs. Non-Fiction

    Folks, there can be trouble when non-fiction authors or app designers think they are writing fiction. And vice versa. Digital designer Theo Gray has been a pioneer in thinking about using touch screens to present information. He even made a non-fiction app about fiction (Disney Animated).  Theo will define these categories broadly (like games are fiction apps while educational games and tools/utilities are non-fiction apps) and help us all better understand the potential of the medium, for both.  

    1:30 Chip Donohue and Claudia Haines  

    Did you hear about the new AAP guidelines? Fresh from NAEYC 16, the latest ideas from Chip

    Chip Donohue

    Chip Donohue

    Donohue; the Dean of Distance Learning at the Erikson Institute in Chicago.  Chip where leads the TEC (Technology in Early Childhood) center.  He just finished editing a book on the topic of Media Mentorship. He’s been a Montessori school director and big band drummer. His Ph.D. Educational Psychology and beard help him accurately replicate Jean Piaget.  Claudia Haines is a practitioner, leading storytimes, hosting Maker programs, and getting great media into the hands of kids and teens as the Youth Services Librarian and Media Mentor at the Homer Public Library (Alaska). She trains other librarians as media mentors and serves on both local and national committees that support families and literacy. She is the co-author of Becoming a Media Mentor: A Guide for Working with Children and Families. 

    2:00 Mark Schlichting How to Create Games Children Love

    Mark SchlichtingThis has been a big year for Mark Schlichting, with the completion of a book that has been in the works since the first Dust or Magic (yes 2001). It’s called Understanding Kids, Play, and Interactive Design: How to Create Games Children Love  and it will officially go on sale a few days before DoM. This is the talk that accompanies the book… don’t miss it.  

    2:30 BrainSprints

    1. In the classroom
    2. In libraries
    3. Special needs
    4. Entertainment
    5. Informal education
    6. Dangers/misuse or drawbacks

    mtlogoField Trip: Mediatech

    Mediatech is a non-profit public library based technology center/maker space started in 2003 as an experiment. It serves as CTR’s testing center, and provides free public access to the latest technology. Video games circulate like books, and children play games designed to increase collaboration. You’ll get a chance to talk to some of the kids, and try some of the latest products.

    3:00 Bus trip to Mediatech Foundation: Meet some real kids.

    4:00 Kids panel

    Robin Raskin4:30 Robin Raskin“Think Outside the App: A Look at Real World Forces Informing Kids Media Development”

    Voice activation like Siri and Alexa, AI, AR/VR, driverless cars, the sharing economy, the gig economy… are all phenomena that should inform current app developers. Few people can connect these concepts like Robin Raskin, who is fluent in a variety of emerging technologies, in part from her work with the International CES. 

    5:00 Bus leaves exactly at 5:00 PM to return to the Inn at Lambertville Station.

    6:00 Dinner (on your own. Your chance to venture to another state — Pennsylvania — and cross the river from George Washington’s point of view)


    8:00  Demos

    Biff Niff

    8:30  Biff Niff, AKA “Thug Mouse” AKA “JP”

    Few people understand serious play like Biff Niff (formerly known as Thug Mouse, formerly known as JP de Pedro), and he has the apps to prove it (e.g., Toca Hair Salon, for example). JP was part of the founding team at Toca Boca, where he was the Creative Lead. Since leaving Toca Boca last year, he started a children’s interactive media consultancy in New York called Little Frogs. He’s a founding member of the Alliance for Self Directed Education, fighting for the civil right of all children to learn without coercion. As a rapper JP is known as Thug Mouse.

    10:00 – Free play and late night discussion.


    November 8, 2016

    7:30 Breakfast

    Jesse Schell is the Author of "The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses"

    Jesse Schell is the Author of “The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses”

    8:30 Jesse Schell: Mixing things you can touch with things you can imagine. Thoughts on the state of AR and VR technologies, applied to learning settings. Jesse is CEO of Schell Games and a Professor at CMU.


    9:30 Jessica Taylor Piotrowski, Ph.D. Director, Center for research on Children, Adolescents, and the Media University of Amsterdam. Talk title: Insights into Youth, Media & Technology 

    10:15 Break

    10:30 Kimberley Sorenson “The Science of Becoming Human” 

    Abby Adams, Toca Boca

    Abby Adams, Toca Boca

    11:00  Abby Adams: A Toca TV case study. Toca Boca used to be an unusual word combination. Not anymore, at least to millions of 5th graders. Following this year’s acquisition by Spin-Master, Toca Boca has a new direction, including a unique approach to the oldest children’s media form: Television. Come and near Abby explain what they’ve learned by making Toca TV.

    11:30 Final panel: with a conclusion and summary by David Kleeman. What have we learned this year, and what can we expect for 2017?

    If you’re staying in the Inn, make sure you checkout of your room by 10:00 AM. It is OK to store bags in the Riverside room.

    12:00 Lunch

    12:20 Transbridge Bus #1 leaves to Newark Liberty, arriving 1:35 PM (for early flights). Note that departure is from the Hess Station, 5 blocks from the Inn.

    1:30 Dust or Magic limo bus departs to Newark Liberty International Airport, arriving 2:45 PM

    1:55 Transbridge bus departs to Newark Liberty Airport, arriving 3:15 PM

    5:50 PM last Transbridge bus departs to Newark Liberty Airport, arriving 7:15 PM (departs from the Hess Station, 5 blocks from the Inn). You can buy tickets from the Valparaiso Deli, Rt 165 & Rt 518, 609-397-1116

    Speaker details
    • Chip Donohue

      Chip Donohue 

      Chip Donohue, PhD, is Dean of Distance Learning and Continuing Education and Director of the Technology in Early Childhood (TEC) Center at Erikson Institute in Chicago. He is a Senior Fellow and Member of the Advisory Board of the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children's Media at Saint Vincent College, where he co-chaired the working group that revised the 2012 NAEYC & Fred Rogers Center Joint Position Statement on Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8. Chip is the editor of two books...

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    • Jesse Schell

      Jesse Schell 

      Jesse is the CEO of Schell Games, a team of one hundred people who strive to make the world’s greatest educational and transformational games, including Yale Medical's PlayForward: Elm City Stories, Water Bears VR, the Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood games, and Happy Atoms. Schell Games also creates pure entertainment content, such as the award winning VR game, I Expect You to Die, and the comedy space game Orion Trail. Jesse also serves as Distinguished Professor of the Practice of Entertainment Technology at Carnegie Mellon...

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    • Keli Winters

      Keli Winters, Evan-Moor

      Keli Winters 

      Keli Winters is the Director of Production at Evan-Moor Educational Publishers. Keli has been with Evan-Moor for 10 years, working with a team of Editors and Designers toward achieving the goal of creating innovative K-6 supplemental teaching materials. She works closely with various departments to shape the technology vision for the Evan Moor including technology that is integrated with print products, standalone technology products, and Evan-Moor's internet presence.

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    • Raul Gutierrez

      Raul Gutierrez,Tinybop

      Raul Gutierrez 

      Raul Gutierrez, Founder and CEO of Tinybop Inc., has enjoyed a long career in technology and the arts. As a high school student in rural East Texas, he was an early Apple developer (when programming for the Mac meant buying a Lisa). Raul was admitted to Princeton University as an engineer but graduated with a BA in art history after writing his thesis on Chinese Eastern Zhou bronze casting techniques. After college, Raul worked at Paramount Pictures for acclaimed producer Scott Rudin. Later, he formed a consulting firm and built internet properties for P...

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    • 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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    • 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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    • 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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    • Jessica Taylor Piotrowski

      Jessica Taylor Piotrowski 

      Dr. Jessica Taylor Piotrowski (Ph.D, 2010, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania) is an Associate Professor in the Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR) at the University of Amsterdam. She is the Director of the Center for research on Children, Adolescents, and the Media (CcaM), the Program Group Leader for Youth & Media Entertainment at ASCoR, and the incoming Chair of the Children, Adolescents, and the Media division of the International Communication Association. Her research investigates how children process and compr...

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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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    • Barbara Chamberlin

      Barbara Chamberlin 

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

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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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    • Claudia Haines

      Claudia Haines 

      Claudia Haines leads storytimes, hosts Maker programs, and gets great media into the hands of kids and teens as the Youth Services Librarian and Media Mentor at the Homer Public Library (Alaska). She is a co-author of the Association for Library Service to Children's white paper, Media Mentorship in Libraries Serving Youth (2015) and the forthcoming book Becoming a Media Mentor: A Guide for Working with Children and Families (2016). She trains other librarians as media mentors and serves on both local and national committees that support families an...

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    • Abby Adams

      Abby Adams, Toca Boca

      Abby Adams 

      Toca TV Product Manager, Toca Boca Abby Adams is the Toca TV Product Manager at Toca Boca, a play studio that makes digital toys for kids. Since its first product launch in 2011, Toca Boca has released 34 apps that have been downloaded in 215 countries worldwide. With over 130 million total downloads to date, Toca Boca apps focus on stimulating kids’ imagination so that they can play and have fun in a safe digital environment. Prior...

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    • Theodore Gray

      Theodore Gray 

      Theodore Gray joined Stephen Wolfram in the creation of Mathematica in 1987, designing an interface that matched the dynamic flexibility of the language, and making possible the creation of millions of computationally interactive documents. He is a Contributing Editor at Popular Science magazine, and authored its Gray Matter column from 2003 to 2013, collected in two volumes, Mad Science: Experiments You Can Do at Home–But Probably Shouldn’t, and Mad Science 2: Experiments You Can Do at Home–But STILL Probably Shouldn’t. In 2009 he published the coffee tabl...

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    • Bob Tedeschi

      Bob Tedeschi 

      Bob Tedeschi is a feature writer for STAT, a health blog owned by the Boston Globe. He has written for The New York Times since 1998, when he began writing a weekly the e-commerce column that ran for a decade in the business section. He has also been a columnist for the Travel section, the Real Estate section, and the Sunday regionals section, and his stories have appeared in multiple other sections in the paper, as well as on Page One. In 2008 he reviewed mobile technology and apps for the Personal Techn...

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    • Emmet O'Neill

      Emmet O’Neill 

      Emmet O'Neill is the Chief Product Officer for StoryToys. He is responsible for all aspects of product development, from concept through to final delivery. In StoryToys he has produced apps for many leading entertainment companies including Eric Carle Studio, Saban, Warner Bros/DC, Sesame Workshop and Disney. With a career in digital product design that spans almost 20 years, Emmet has worked across a broad spectrum of industries including publishing, advertising and film /TV....

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    • Robin Raskin

      Robin Raskin 

      Robin Raskin is a recovering journalist who now organizes conferences and events on what it means to be “living in digital times”.  An author, editor, magazine publisher, blogger, TV and radio personality, and consultant, Raskin says she’s never met a media she doesn’t like. Raskin is the former Editor of PC Magazine and Editor in Chief of FamilyPC. She’s been a columnist for USA Today Online and Yahoo and has authored 6 books about parenting in the digital age. She works with Children's Technology Review to produce the KAPi awards ...

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    • Kimberley Sorenson

      Kimberley Sorenson 

      Kimberley Heuston Sorenson is Curriculum Director for the Waterford Institute, a non-profit celebrating forty years of melding neuroscience, educational research, and best practices into scalable early childhood adaptive software, bringing a first-class education to children everywhere. Kimberley holds a BA in History and Science from Harvard University, an MFA in Writing for Children from Vermont College, and an MEd in Instructional Design and Educational Technology from the University of Utah. She began her career at Waterford as ...

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    Read about Dust or Magic 2015 from the archives

  • 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.