Fall Institute 2015 Agenda

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    Download a PDF of the printed flyer.


    Sunday November 1, 2015


    appFestLogo-no-text2:00 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 come and hunt for the next Minecraft, Duck Duck Moose, or Club Penguin.

    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 seperate “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.

    5:00 pm – Welcome

    “The State of Children’s Interactive Media” panel with Claire Green, Robin Raskin, David Kleeman, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek,  Scott Traylor, Tonda Budge Sellers, and Mark Schlichting. This year’s panel will be moderated Chris Byrne.

    This year’s essential topics:

    • 3stooges

      Experts emerge from every crevice during the Dust or Magic review of the year (art by Daren Carstens).

      The children’s interactive media space has become fuzzy and crowded. Where’s the open water?

    • Here come the Chromebooks.
    • What is Steam and why should you care?
    • Examples of the dust and the magic from the past 12 months.
    • Paying attention to the constant forces: character development, quality, narrative glue, sanding…
    • Reviewing the reviewers and the givers of the awards. Who deserves an award?
    • New VR visual pipelines to a child’s mind: Oculus, Morpheus and Hololens (and others) are coming early 2016. What do they mean for children?
    • Wearables. The Apple Watch has moved the “quantified self” into the mainstream, with “taptic” and “force touch” UI mechanics that are now reality. How can they be used to reach sensori-motor learners? This is starting to get interesting.
    • ROI (Return on Investment) App publishing and distribution in iTunes vs. Google Play vs. Amazon; issues related to ROI, and other non-iTunes options.
    • Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 10.17.12 AMApp Maturation, resulting in better scaffolding… for example… Action Graphing.
    • Key examples of dust. What went wrong, and why.
    • Large group and small group screen play. What does screen size have to do with it?
    • Will it be good bye, good buy or Hello Barbie in 2016?
    • Video games, smart cameras  and other interesting forms of interactive media.

    KHirsh-Pasek6:00 Putting “Education” in Educational Apps, Part 1 by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek
    “Children are in the midst of a vast, unplanned experiment, surrounded by digital technologies that were not available but five years ago. At the apex of this boom is the introduction of applications (“apps”) for tablets and smartphones. So-called “educational apps” – which as of July 2014 stand at 75,000 in the App Store (Apple, 2014), are largely unregulated and untested.”  Kathy will introduce the topic, which will be expanded on tomorrow by co-authors Jennifer Zosh and Jim Gray.

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

    Welcome and Introductions

    Michael-Frith-2-1024x6838:00  Making Magical Characters with Puppets and in Apps, With Muppeteers  Michael Frith and Kathryn Mullen.

    Kathy and Michael will discuss the different aspects of bringing characters to life throughout their careers.

    Michael K. Frith worked with Jim Henson’s Muppets for 21 years as Director of Creative Services and Executive Producer.  He was co-creator and conceptual/puppet designer of Fraggle Rock and Between the Lions.

    Jim Henson and Katheryn Mullen

    Jim Henson and Katheryn Mullen

    Kathy started on “The Muppet Show” and was a core Muppet performer for 10 years.

    She played leads in Fraggle Rock and The Dark Crystal and was a co-creator and principle puppeteer on the PBS reading series Between the Lions. She now writes and directs for No Strings Productions.

    Please note that this session can go very late. It is OK to take a nap, or run up to to your room. If you’re coming from a different time zone, it helps to book a room at the Inn.

    Recently, Michael has started thinking about interactive screens and app design, and has been working with Emmet O’Neill and Bob Tedeschi to create an app based on Leonardo DiVinci.  The app, and the app design process will be demonstrated during this multi-media mashup of ideas, props, and app design.  



    November 2, 2015


    7:30 Breakfast

    8:30  Quality Attributes. Part of the annual, and ongoing crash course on child development applied to interactive media, by Warren Buckleitner

    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.

    10:30 Demos and Nice Touch

    ZoshHead11:30 Jennifer Zosh: Continuing the “Putting the education back in ‘educational’ apps” part 2.  A Discussion

    How do we think about the potential educational impact of current and future apps? Apps designed to promote active, engaged, meaningful and socially interactive learning (4 pillars) within the context of a supported learning goal emerge as those that are not just called “educational” but that are truly educational.  With help from Jim Gray


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


    1:00 Sharen Lerner’s Stories of Dust and Magic 

    Sharon Lerner is an Emmy Award-winning writer/ producer who helped develop Sesame Street and Between the Lions.

    1:15 Screen Shot 2015-07-25 at 5.11.24 PMDavid Kleeman — Thoughts on VR. World traveler David Kleeman — just back from Cinekid in Amsterdam — will give us the headlines of a Dubit study on children’s VR, and make sure you know what to expect in 2016. It will all lead up to: 

    The Grand BrainSprint:  “What ways do you think VR could be used in to enhance a child’s life?”

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


    2:30 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 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)

    scot_prop_2408:00 Evening Talk by Scot Osterweil
    Doom and Gloom: an Optimists Perspective

    Why most of the talk about STEM and 20th century skills misses the point.

    Scot Osterweil is the Creative Director of The Education Arcade at MIT.  He has designed games for both academic and commercial environments, and his work has focused on what is authentically playful in challenging academic subjects.  We’ve given him the evening to explore a topic of his choice. We’re in good hands.

    10:00 – Demos, free play and late night discussion.



    November 3, 2015

    7:30 Breakfast

    8:30 The power of asking “what will happen if I try this?”



    Jens Peter de Pedro

    By Jens Peter de Pedro, the creative designer at Toca Boca.

    How to give young children the tools to understand the power of creation, testing and the chance to say “what will happen if I try this?”



    Dust or Magic Speaker Series: Mini Talks the World Needs to Hear

    This series of talks generates some excellent YouTube content, and helps messages of how to make magic (and avoid the dust) to the world. 

    Remco Pijpers

    Remco Pijpers

    9:00  Remco Pijpers, Mijn Kind Online, Netherlands.
    Topic: A conversation on quality children’s content from a Dutch point of view. Remco is the  author of the book “Positive Digital Content for Children.”

    Barbara Chamberlin

    9:15 Barbara Chamberlin, New Mexico State University Game Lab.
    Topic: Using a Design Advisory Panel: Getting Great Feedback from Brilliant People. In addition to the beta testing the Learning Games Lab does with members of their target audiences, they’ve had great experiences asking colleagues to formally review products as part of a “Quality Assurance” panel. Barbara Chamberlin will share strategies she uses to select expert reviewers, structure and support feedback so that it is most useful, and how she helps her team make sense of what they hear. All in 15 minutes.

    9:30 Break

    Claire Green

    Claire Green

    9:45 Claire Green, President of the Parents’ Choice Foundation.
    Topic: Reviewing the Reviewers. It’s time to pull back the curtain and shed some light on the world of ratings and awards.What types of bias harm or help the reviewing process? Who and what lurks behind the editorial?  As background, have a look some of the questions raised in Amy Jussel’s recent posts.

    10:00 Mark Schlichting, Living Books Creator and President of Noodleworks.
    Topic: “The Magic of Audio.” This is an exploration how sounds help you make great apps. This is a  follow up on Mark’s talk on Secrets of Animation.

    Mark Schlichting

    Mark Schlichting





    Kimberley Sorenson

    Kimberley Sorenson

    10:15 Kimberly Sorenson, Curriculum Director of Waterford Learning with three decades of classroom time with 8th graders.
    Topic:  “Making Sense.” A description of the brain’s journey from novice to expert, and the implications this has for instruction. This talk has implications for stuff like motivation, executive function, the transition from direct instruction to constructivism, the relationship between the right and left side of the brain, and the acquisition of wisdom.  

    Raul Gutierrez,Tinybop

    Raul Gutierrez,Tinybop

    10:30: Raul Gutierrez, What we learned (and are still learning) from making The Everything Machine

    11:00 Review with Stephen Gass: key ideas to take home,  planning and thoughts for 2016.

    11:45 Evaluations

    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


    • Kathy Hirsh-Pasek

      Kathy Hirsh-Pasek 

      Kathryn Hirsh-Pasek is the Stanley and Debra Lefkowitz Faculty Fellow in the Department of Psychology at Temple University where she serves as Director of the Infant Language Laboratory. She is the recipient of the American Psychological Association’s Bronfenbrenner Award for Lifetime Contribution to Developmental Psychology in the Service of Science and Society, the American Psychological Association’s Award for Distinguished Service to Psychological Science, the American Psychological Society’s James McKeen Cattell Award for “a li...

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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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    • 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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    • 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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    • 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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    • 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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    • Claire Green

      Claire Green

      Claire Green 

      Claire Green helms Parents’ Choice Foundation, best known for the Parents’ Choice Awards program. In commemoration of Parents’ Choice Foundation's 30th anniversary, Claire cofounded Sandbox Summit.® Clearly, all things connect to Dust or Magic; Robin Raskin made it possible for the inaugural Sandbox Summit® to be held at the 2008 CES; Scot Osterweil and MIT’s Education Arcade have hosted Sandbox Summit for the past five years. In September 2014, Claire resigned from Sandbox Summit to concentrate more fully on the PlayAbility Scale, nutrition labeling ...

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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 (www.childrenstech.com). 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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    • 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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    • Michael K. Frith

      Michael K. Frith 

      Michael K. Frith was president of the Harvard Lampoon and then became Editor-in-Chief for Random House’s Beginner Book series working with Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss).  He was Executive Vice President, Director of Creative Services and an Executive Producer for Jim Henson’s Muppets for 21 years.  He has won many awards for his design work and was co-creator and conceptual/puppet designer of such well know television shows as Fraggle Rock and Between the Lions. Recently he's been working on apps and app...

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    • Scott Traylor

      Scott Traylor 

      For the past 22 years Scott Traylor has defined the vision behind the Boston-based digital development and consulting firm known as 360KID. His youth-focused company specializes in product ideation, market testing, and product development as a service to companies interested in engaging kids through a variety of different m...

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    • Chris Byrne

      Chris Byrne 

      Chris Byrne has "toy sense," and he's always willing to share his ideas, which is why it's great when we can get him to Dust or Magic. And this is his busy season. Despite seeming like a kid, Chris has a 30-plus-year career in the toy industry. Currently, he is a partner in aNb Media, LLC and content director for TTPM.com.  During his career, he has held a variety of positions with toy companies covering marketing, media, operations, product development and creative. In 1988, he formed New York-based Byrne Communications and is a researcher, an...

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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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    • Remco Pijpers

      Remco Pijpers

      Remco Pijpers 

      Remco Pijpers is the Founder Mijn Kind Online (My Child Online, www.mijnkindonline.nl) and strategic advisor to the Foundation Kennisnet, based in The Hague, Netherlands.  He works on digital literacy in Dutch primary and secondary education programs.  He's the author and co-author of several publications, among others Positive Digital Content for Children (download: mijnkindonline.nl/poscon...

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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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    • Barbara Chamberlin

      Barbara Chamberlin 

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

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    • Scot Osterweil

      Scot Osterweil 

      Scot Osterweil is the Creative Director of the Education Arcade and a research director in the MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing Program. He is a designer of award-winning educational games, working in both academic and commercial environments, and his work has focused on what is authentically playful in challenging academic subjects.  He has designed games for computers, handheld devices, and multi-player on-line environments. He is the creator of the acclaimed Zoombinis series of math and logic games, and leads a number of projects...

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    • Kathryn Mullen

      Jim Henson and Katheryn Mullen

      Kathryn Mullen 

      Kathryn Mullen joined the Muppets in 1978, starting withThe Muppet Movie,[1] and became the third full-time female puppeteer on The Muppet Show (after Eren Ozker and...

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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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    • Jennifer M. Zosh

      Jennifer M. Zosh 

      Jennifer M. Zosh, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Penn State’s Brandywine campus where she received the Distinguished Teaching Award and currently holds the David and Marjorie Rosenberg Career Development Professorship for Leadership and Innovation. As the Director of the Brandywine Child Development Lab, she involves undergraduate researchers in the study of developmental cognition. Her areas of expertise and publication include playful learning, the impact of technology on children, working memory, mathematical cognition, and langu...

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    • Sharon Lerner

      Sharon Lerner 

      Sharon Lerner is an Emmy Award-winning writer/ producer who helped create Sesame Street and Between the Lions. While a V.P. and Publisher of the Children’s Multimedia Division at Random House she created audio, video and multimedia entertainment and educational projects with authors such as Dr. Seuss, The Berenstains, Richard Scarry, Leo Lionni, among others. Ms. Lerner is also the author of many children’s books including Sesame Street and Electric Company titles, a retelling of the classic Black Beauty for young child...

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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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    • Jim Gray

      Jim Gray 

      Jim Gray, Ed.D. As Vice President of Learning Design at Sesame Workshop, Jim is responsible for the educational quality of interactive products designed to help children grow smarter, stronger, and kinder. Areas of expertise include children’s development, play, learning, and media design, with a career spanning academic research, teaching, product development, and business innovation. Jim has been a teacher of young children, researcher of innovative learning technologies, Director of Learning at LeapFrog, and ed...

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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.