2014 Institute Agenda

  • Sunday November 2


    appFestLogo-no-textDust or Magic Children’s AppFest East

    $Free; children welcome, but advance registration is required.  Please use this form. 

    1:00 AppFest setup.

    2:00 AppFest begins.  Choose a role: Demo Giver (take a balloon, write the name of the product you want to demo and find a place to call home) or Demo Taker (wander around and explore). Children are welcome.

    Where: The new reception area on the river level, below the Riverside Room at The Inn at Lambertville Station, 11 Bridge Street, Lambertville, NJ.   More details.

    5:00 pm – Welcome; 2014 Trend Report

    AppFest participants are welcome to sit in on this session providing we have space. Seating priority is given to paying Dust or Magic Attendees.

    This is the official annual “Huddle,” also known as “The State of Children’s Interactive Media” session. It will be hosted by  Warren Buckleitner and Daren Carstens, with unstructured input from Mark Schlichting, Barbara Chase,  Claire Green, Robin Raskin, Chris Byrne,  David KleemanKate Wilson, Chip DonohueKate Highfield, Ann McCormick and others in the room.  This session marks the official start of Dust or Magic 2014.

    This year’s topics (summarized in this article).

    Screen Shot 2014-09-25 at 10.03.40 AM

    • App publishing and distribution in iTunes vs. Google Play vs. Amazon; issues related to ROI (return on investment), and other non-iTunes options.
    • What will Amazon’s new Kid’s Tablet do to the space?
    • Notch did it, LEGO couldn’t. Dissecting the Minecraft Magic story
    • Going Global.. (Food, Housing, Medicine … and Apps). An update on work to get quality IM to every child.
    • Lessons from the dustbin  — new products and noble attempts since last year.
    • Five products we need to be able to pronouncein order to sound relevant in 2015.
    • The state of video game consoles (PS4, Xbox One and the Wii U) and handheld systems (N3DS, Vita). Is LeapTV going to fly?
    • Will the AA battery ever die? Toys, toys, toys … an industry point of view. Does Osmo stand a chance in ToyRUs?
    • Wearable tech is hot, but is the LeapBand viable? What else should  be done?
    • 3D Goggles and 3D printing — more bark than bite?
    • Lessons from the children’s book publishers. These guys know a lot about selling content to children … they’ve been doing it now since Beatrix Potter. What can we learn from them, in terms of things like illustration, fonts and ROI?
    • Can the magic of Minecraft continue in 2015? Remember Club Penguin and Moshi Monsters? What mistakes must Notch avoid to survive in 2015?
    • What’s going outside USA borders?
    • Dirty rotten sneaky evil trickery applied to children’s interactive products. Despite a few fines and laws, it’s still going on. Who’s doing it well, and what can we learn from them?

    AppFest participants depart; Dust or Magic Attendees convene at the Restaurant for the banquet. 

    Banquet Dinner

    6:00  Dinner at the Lamberville Station Restaurant (Note: this is in the old train station depot located by Bridge Street, with the train car attached).

    Welcome and Introductions with Daren Carstens and The Picky Teacher

    annie-murphy-paul.head-shot8:00  Annie Murphy Paul: Intelligent Thoughts on Intelligence (Riverside Room)

    What, exactly, is a “smarter” child? How can technology add or subtract from the “nurture” part of the age-old nature vs. nurture debate? Few people on Earth have thought about this, or have written so intelligently about it as Annie Murphy Paul. This session was originally scheduled last year — the second time’s a charm.

    Please note — this session will go late into the evening. Try to arrive with charged batteries.



    November 3, 2014


    7:30 Breakfast

    8:30  Child Development 101 for the Designers of Children’s Interactive Media, 2014 Edition. This is our crash course on child development, applied to interactive media. It is required for all first time attendees. Bring your handout packet. Old timers will also find new examples applied to developmental theory, and contribute 2014 examples.

    9:30   Critic’s fishbowl with Chris Byrne, Warren Buckleitner, Claire Green and Robin Raskin  moderated by David Kleeman.  Why does a product make your “editor’s choice” list? What products would you like to see? Note that any professional critic  (of children’s interactive products) is welcome to attend this session. You’re free to crash this session, no registration required. Just show up; and be prepared to introduce your work, and bring some examples of “Dust” or “Magic.”  Contact Megan in advance to make sure we have your name badge.

    10:30 DemosAppDance and Nice Touch

    11:00  Jason Krogh, Founder and CEO of Sago Sago. Play testing, with specific examples of things we caught and changed through the  process.

    11:35  Chris Heatherly of Disney

    12:00 Group Photo/ Lunch

    12:30 Going Global: Two Projects to Know. Meet the people behind some work that could improve the lives of millions of children, if they do it right and if they have our help.  From the Global Literacy Project: Tinsley Gaylean from MIT, the Director; and Stephanie Gottwald from Tufts, who is the Director of Content and who (we hope) will share her “app map.” And from the Breteau Foundation we’ll hear from Lainey Franks, the Foundation’s recently appointed General Manager. This micro-panel will run smoothly thanks to Claire Green.

    1:00  Kate Wilson of Nosy Crow: What goes into making a story app? A Look Under the Hood . Kate Wilson is determined that reading should not be the most boring thing you can do on a touch screen. The small, self-funded, independent company has been making award-winning apps for almost four years, and has learned a lot from the process. This is an honest look at some of those lessons and a glimpse into the skills, effort and time that goes into planning and making a story app that delights children and engages them in reading, and that appeals to teachers, librarians and parents too.

    1:45  Chip Donohue  Back to the Future: Lessons in App Design from Mister Rogers

    2:10 Demos

    mtlogoField Trip: Mediatech

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

    4:00 Demos

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

    6:00 Dinner (on your own)


    Jesse Schell8:00 Evening Talk

    Jesse Schell: The Tablet Has Landed… Now What?

    Jesse Schell is Professor of Entertainment Technology at Carnegie Mellon University and CEO of Schell Games, the largest game studio in Pennsylvania. His fervent belief that everyone should be able to create games led him to write the award-winning book, The Art of Game Design. He’ll talk about his latest projects, and tapping the power of multi-touch screens.

    Demos, free play and late night discussion.


    Jesse Schell leads a team on a very low tech jigsaw puzzle, as he listens to a demo in progress on Monday night.
    Jesse Schell leads a team through a low tech jigsaw puzzle  as he listens to a demo in progress on Monday night (from the 2012 edition of Dust or Magic). 


    November 4, 2014

    7:30 Breakfast

    Demos & Talks

    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.

    8:00 Dust or Magic Talk Series  (20 minutes each; a great mind attacks a timely topic of choice and we make a video for the world to see).  Note that the speaker order and topics may change, and we may do demos between talks. Speakers always get final approval before talks are posted.


    1. Barbara Chamberlin   “What are we even doing? Rethinking the impacts of our work.”   Barbara Chamberlin runs the Learning Games Lab at NMSU, where they develop educational games for kids and adults, on a wide range of topics. (Math? Yep! Cooking in Chinese food restaurnts? Yep! Riding an ATV? Yep!) Visit learninggameslab.org and mathsnacks.org. Be sure to share examples of great products with Barb if you share her passion for math, science or financial literacy education.
    2. Mark Schlichting, CEO Noodleworks. Animation Tricks and Character Design Short Cuts: Creative tips on efficient animation design for children’s products: This is very quick look at what works, both in terms of what kids like and minimizing character animation expense. Along with animated examples it would include tips for getting around using Walk Cycles, tricks for simplifying Lip-Synch, and the power of movement (to show it’s Alive) and eyeballs (to give anything personality).
    3. Chris Byrne WTF ??? It’s Not What You Think it Means. Chris is the Editor of TTPM; and a long-time, widely published, widely quoted toy scholar.
    4. Kate Highfield The view on Children’s IMM from the other side of the world.
    5. Drew Davidson Who makes the magic? A look at the teams behind the products.

    11:00  Stephen Gass: Get Out Your Lasers…. A Review Quiz on the latest research, myths and what happened in the past 36 hours.

    11:45 Evaluations

    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


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    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."

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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!"

    • 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.