2011 Speakers

The Symposium features speakers that are leaders nationwide in the area of using video games to enhance educational goals. They represent experience with award winning games that are household names, as well as real experience in application to the classroom. Here are our confirmed speakers thus far. We will continue to update this page as we continue to add new speakers.


Jay Bachhuber, Researcher, Center for Children and Technology
Bio to be updated soon.


Robin Cannito, Outreach Producer, LAB@THIRTEEN, WNET Public Media New York
Robin Cannito is an Outreach Producer at the LAB@Thirteen, which creates community and educational outreach initiatives associated with public television station THIRTEENs productions. She has been active in the development of the MISSION US games, website, and educational resources, and will be working with PBS stations nationwide to bring the game into classrooms.


Katy DeCorah, Assistant Director, College of Computing and Information Student Center, University at Albany
Bio to be updated soon.


Seann Dikkers, Teacher, Principal, & Doctoral Student, Univeristy of Wisconsin – Madison
Seann Dikkers, M.Ed., is a researcher and graduate student in educational technologies. Formerly he spent ten years in the classroom and four as an administrator. Now he his a co-author of the forthcoming book, RTR: An Experiment in Design and works as a designer, researcher, and consultant in new media and education. His projects have an eye on new media skills, game design, and educational leadership. Projects include RTR, ParkQuest, Mobile Media Learning with Kurt Squire, the Comprehensive Assessment for Leadership in Learning (CALL) with Rich Halverson, games based history curriculum, tools for teachers, and raising two pretty awesome kids with his wife Stephanie.

Click here to learn more.


Brock R. Dubbels, PhD, Educator , The Center for Cognitive Sciences, The University of Minnesota
Many attendees of the 2009 Games in Education symposium will remember Brock’s motivating presentation on “The Jekyll and Hyde Effect: Play, Games, and Learning in the Clasroom/ Professional Identities Torn Asunder?”. Brock has been working as a teacher and teacher educator since 1999. As a researcher, Brock is affiliated with the Center for Cognitive Sciences at the University of Minnesota, and specializes in reading comprehension, engagement, and exploring new technologies for assessment, delivering content, and investigating ways people approach learning.

Brock is a former Fulbright Scholar, as well as a recipient of a National Research Service Award from the National Institutes of Health. He is currently in his 4th year teaching Videogames as Learning Tools at the University of Minnesota in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, and is expanding the curriculum to become a 20-credit certificate for teacher professional development on the integration of games and play. He is also the principal learning architect of a game designed for work force development to train nursing assistants. Brock recently started his own company called vgAlt which focuses on school district learning and assessment consultation and video game development.


Teresa Ferrer, PhD Student and Research Scholar, SUNY Albany-Blanquerna University
Teresa Ferrer Micó is a PhD student in the Department of Educational Sciences at the University Ramón Llull- Blanquerna of Barcelona, and also collaborates with the ETAP department at SUNY Albany, NY. She holds a Bachelor Degree in Physics by the University of Barcelona and a Master Degree in Educational Technology and Curriculum Development by the SUNY University at Albany, NY. She is also a secondary school teacher at a British school in Barcelona and her main interest is the study of new technology applications to education and how they impact students’ capabilities and skills.


Carla Engelbrecht Fisher, Children’s Technology Instructor, Doctoral Candidate, No Crusts Interactive
Carla Engelbrecht Fisher is a game designer with a research obsession. She is the founder of No Crusts Interactive, a children’s game design consulting firm that emphasizes incorporating child developmental research and play testing into the game design paradigm. Having spent more than a decade making children’s digital goods, she’s produced, researched, and consulted on a wide variety of commercial and educational products, from Web to mobile to console, including the Nintendo Wii and DS as well as the Xbox 360 Kinect. Before starting No Crusts Interactive, she worked for Sesame Workshop, PBS KIDS, and Highlights for Children. Carla speaks internationally about children’s game design at both academic and industry events. She is a published author as well as a doctoral candidate at Teachers College, Columbia University, where she studies technology and its relationship with human cognition and development, particularly as it applies to children and games. Carla holds a master’s degree in media studies from the New School University and has, on occasion, been known to twist balloon animals and hats.


Lucas Gillispie, Instructional Technology Coordinator, Pender County Schools, North Carolina, and Author of the Edurealms.com Blog
Instructional Technology Coordinator, Pender County Schools, North Carolina, and Author of the Edurealms.com Blog Lucas has been an educator for over ten years in the state of North Carolina, having taught high school Biology before taking his current position as his district’s instructional technology coordinator two years ago. There he works with teachers to assist them with incorporating new technologies into the classroom and promotes online professional development through social networking and virtual worlds like Second Life. Recently, he earned a Master of Science in Instructional Technology from the University of North Carolina Wilmington, completing his thesis work on the effects of a 3D video game on middle school students’ achievement and attitude in mathematics. He has been a gamer as long as he can recall, but was introduced to MMORPG’s by a student in 1999. Since then, he has been the leader of the Harbingers of Light guild, a guild consisting primarily of students, teachers, and other individuals from around the world.

Lucas is passionate about sharing his experiences with gaming and students in the online world. His presentations at GLS 2008, NCTIES and for the NCDLA on video games and education have been well-received as he seeks to inform educators about today’s student-gamer and the games they play. Lucas is a proponent of MMORPG’s and the potential of the genre for education.

Click here to learn more.


Jennifer Goodall, Director, College of Computing and Information Student Center, University at Albany
Jennifer Goodall received her undergraduate and masters degrees in Classics at Tufts University while working on the Perseus Project. Her research focused on women in antiquity. She then completed her Ph.D. in Information Science at the University at Albany with a specialization in Information Technology and Learning. Her dissertation examined trust and power issues surrounding information sharing among homeless providers in New York City. She has been teaching undergraduates at the University of Albany since 2004 and has noticed a decline in women students in her classes. She has been Assistant Dean of the Department of Informatics since 2007 where she helps manage the doctoral program in Information Science and leads the CCIWIT initiative. She also works with the National Center for Women in Information Technology (NCWIT) as an Extension Services Consultant.


Kathleen A. Gormley, PhD, Associate Professor, The Sage Colleges, Troy, NY
Bio to be updated soon.


Chris Haskell, M.S., Education Emphasis in Educational Technology, Boise State University
Serving as a Special Lecturer in the Department of Educational Technology at Boise State University, Chris specializes in instructing pre-service teachers in methods and applications of technology integration in the classroom. In addition to instilling fundamental skills, Chris focuses on the use, adaptation, and implementation of emerging technologies in teacher education including gaming, mobile communication devices, portable media players, social networking tools, and virtual worlds.

Chris has is a regular conference presenter in these emerging areas and continues to research and explore tools used by millennial students.  Chris, and co-inventor Dr. Lisa Dawley, created 3D GameLab, a game-based/quest-based learning management system.

Chris is currently completing his doctoral degree at Boise State University.


Katherine Jetter, Director of Education, WMHT
A professional educator with over 30 years of experience in a wide-range of settings, Katherine joined WMHT in July 2005. Her responsibilities include managing the lifelong learning and educational outreach activities of WMHT Educational Telecommunications, professional development for educators with a focus on PBS media and instruction, overseeing educational marketing and production projects, and consulting with other departments to derive educational benefits from station activities. Prior to her current position, Katherine was the owner and Director of Education of the Schenectady Sylvan Learning Center from 2001-2005 where she combined business strategies and education knowledge to build a successful local enterprise. Additional extensive teaching experience includes: a tenured position at Hudson Valley Community College, Reading Resource Teacher, and Special Education classroom Teacher. Katherine holds NYS Permanent Certification in Special Education and Reading. She was awarded a Master’s Degree in Reading and Reading Disabilities from New York University, a B.A. in Special and Elementary Education from Brooklyn College, City University of New York. In addition, she has completed several courses in the Supervision and Administration in Education Masters Degree program at the College of St. Rose.


Elizabeth Lawley, Associate Professor, Interactive Games & Media, Director, Lab for Social Computing, Rochester Institute of Technology
Bio to be updated soon.


Joel Levin, “The Minecraft Teacher”, Technology Integrator, Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School
Joel is a Technology Integrator at Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School, New York City.  He teaches first and second grade computer skills classes, as well as high school computer electives. Joel recently achieved notoriety for using the popular sandbox game Minecraft to teach young children.  He is also one of the organizers of QuakeCon, the world’s largest free gaming LAN party.  Joel has been teaching with technology for 8 years, but has been playing games since the dawn of the Pong Era.

Click here to learn more.


Barbara Lukas, Family Learning Coordinator, WMHT
Family Learning Coordinator, over 30 years experience with Girl Scouts, Girls Inc., New York State Museum Institute, and other non-profits, in field of program development, outreach, volunteers, and training.


Peter McDermott, PhD, Professor, Pace University, New York, New York
Bio to be updated soon.


Catherine V. Parsons, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction, & Pupil Personnel Services Pine Plains Central School District
Needing income to pay for a Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education, Catherine (Victoria) Parsons accepted two jobs. The first was as a “K-2” teacher in a non-public, non-traditional, open and non-graded “K-8” building. To supplement that income, she also responded to an advertisement that said, “education related”. In that position as the office and research assistant to Dr. Grant P. Wiggins the real education about education began. Her exposure to the worlds of professional development and alternative education were the start of a journey into working with adults in education. Throughout her successful classroom experience in both public and non-public settings, she found herself called upon to lead colleagues in learning experiences, especially in relation to the ubiquitous use of instructional technology. This was the bridge to a career in curriculum, instruction and professional development.

After completion of her Administrative Certification, she took on the role of regional professional development specialist and worked to successfully lead cadres of educators through the process of aligning educational goals with societal needs. Her past role as a professional development specialist in upstate, NY brought her to work with over 8000 educators and 49,000 students, and additionally sustain similar support to 35 non-public schools. Her programming as a P – 12 curriculum specialist focused on supporting the effective and efficient use of technology aligned with the teaching and learning process. Her classroom teaching experience with students P – 12 allows her to support educators with direct knowledge of their experiences and classroom needs. Her work in professional development has been strongly accepted internationally as compassionate and effective. She is active regionally, statewide and nationally in multiple professional organizations.

She currently holds the position of Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Pupil Personnel Services at the Pine Plains Central School District in Dutchess County, NY. This role provides an opportunity to build strong and effective relationships through communities of practice that consider the specific needs of every child. This role as a leader offers true opportunity to support each member of the district community, both adults and children, to reach their potential as learners. She is honored to be trusted with such a responsibility and will for not one moment take the tasks presented lightly as she works and learns alongside educators she has long admired from her other role.


Kathryn Verzoni Perry
A 29-year veteran educator, Kathy first became interested with technology in education while teaching home economics at West Point Middle School in 1983.  During that year, the middle school had purchased nine Radio Shack TRS-80 computers and a USMA computer science professor volunteered to introduce nine teachers to the BASIC computer programming language. Kathy’s interest in computer programming environments for kids led her to teach with several including Logo, Prolog, and, most recently, Scratch. Kathy has a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University at Albany and a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from Cornell University. She often presents on the topic of technology integration at educational conferences.


Juan Rubio, Program Associate, Global Kids
Juan Rubio is a Program Associate at Global Kids Inc. He manages and facilitates games based learning projects at diverse school programs in New York City. In cooperation with the New York Public Library, Mr. Rubio led NYC Haunts, a geolocative game designed by middle school students at MS 391 in the Bronx. He holds an MA in Media Studies from The New School University. He also studied Radio, TV and Film at the School of Communications of Howard University in Washington DC. In 2007, he produced the conference “Adolescence in Latin American Film” at the Art Department of Universidad Pedagogica in Honduras. His work has been shown at Manhattan Neighborhood Network, Paper Tiger Television, and at Queens Museum. Originally from Honduras, he is also fluent in Spanish.


Kelly J. Schermerhorn, Questar III-Model Schools Coordinator
Kelly provides leadership, training and technical support in the implementation of instructional technologies in Questar III and its component school districts. Specifically, she supports initiatives involving the integration of instructional technology into all classrooms K-12 that support New York State learning standards and assessments within Questar III and its component school districts. Schermerhorn earned a BachelorÂ’s degree from SUNY Old Westbury and a MasterÂ’s from SUNY Albany in Curriculum Development/Instructional Technology and volunteers in her community as a Firefighter and EMT.


Peggy Sheehy, Instructional Technology Facilitator and Media Specialist, Suffern Middle School, and Founder, MetaVersEd Consulting Ltd
Very active in her district teacher technology training program, Peggy is a passionate enthusiast for the meaningful infusion of technology in education. In 2006, Peggy established Ramapo Central’s educational presence in Teen Second Life: “Ramapo Islands,” and put Suffern Middle School on the map as the first middle school to use the virtual world for education. After great success with the first group of 400 8th grade students, Ramapo Islands now hosts nearly 1000 students and their teachers and supports all curriculum areas.

Peggy has presented her work with students in Teen Second Life at the Tech Expo, NYSCATE, NECC, EdNet, and the Tech Forum NY 2007. She attended the Virtual Worlds Conference in San Jose where she made a strong case for the blending of the technology industry and education. As a true pioneer in teaching in virtual worlds, she is sought out for advice, curriculum direction and professional development for those that would follow in the footsteps of Ramapo Central. Her vision encompasses a globally collaborative 3-D virtual world campus where learning is student-centered, product-based, playful, and creative.


Lee Sheldon, Associate Professor & Co-Director, GSAS Program, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Lee Sheldon is Associate Professor and Co-Director of the Games and Simulation Arts program at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He has written and designed over 20 commercial video games and MMOs.

In June Lee’s book, The Multiplayer Classroom: Designing Coursework as a Game was published by Cengage Learning. His book Character Development and Storytelling for Games is required reading at many game developers and in game design programs at some of the world’s most distinguished universities. A new edition will be published in 2012.

Lee is a contributor to several books on video games including Well-Played 2.0, Writing for Video Game Genres from the IGDA, Game Design: An Interactive Experience and Second Person. He is cited in many publications; and is a regular lecturer and consultant on game design and writing in the US and abroad.

Before his career in video games Lee wrote and produced over 200 popular television shows, including Star Trek: The Next Generation, Charlie’s Angels, and Cagney and Lacey. As head writer of the daytime serial Edge of Night he received a nomination for best writing from the Writers Guild of America.

Lee has been twice nominated for Edgar awards by the Mystery Writers of America. His first mystery novel, Impossible Bliss, was re-issued in 2004. Lee began his academic career in 2006 at Indiana University where he taught game design and screenwriting.

At IU Lee first instituted the practice of designing classes as multiplayer games; worked on the serious games Quest Atlantis and Virtual Congress; and wrote and designed the alternate reality games The Skeleton Chase and Skeleton Chase 2: The Psychic funded by the Robert Wood Johnson

Foundation; and Skeleton Chase 3: Warp Speed funded by Coca-Cola. He continues as creative director of the narrative-driven MMO Londontown; and is head of the team working to build the Emergent Reality Lab at Rensselaer.

He was design consultant and lead writer on the upcoming casual MMO, Star Trek: Infinite Space; and is currently writing a new Facebook social game for Zynga.


Maura Thompson, Associate Director – Children’s Outreach, Thirteen/WNET
Maura Thompson is the Associate Director of Children’s and Educational
Programming Outreach at Thirteen/WNET. She directs national outreach projects for multiple PBS KIDS programs including Dinosaur Train, Sid the Science Kid and Cyberchase. Through professional development sessions, family events and strategic educational outreach initiatives, Maura engages preK-8 teachers, students and families with educational resources designed to extend a child’s learning experience after broadcast. Prior to her work at Thirteen, Maura taught elementary and middle school science at a Gifted and Talented school in Elizabeth, NJ. While working at Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, NJ, she wrote and performed science stage shows for in-house public programs and traveled to Tri-State schools, special events and conferences to present informal science content to children and educators.


Brian Waniewski, Managing Director, Institute of Play
Brian is responsible for structuring the Institute of Play’s operations, and for the cultivation of key strategic relationships. The Institute of Play is a New York City-based non-profit organization that brings together game design, rigorous research practices and strong interdisciplinary partnerships to create, study and promote game-based materials, strategies and systems as critical tools for personal and social development. Brian has more than fifteen years’  experience as a futurist and management consultant and specializes in the design and start up of organizations in the social development sector. He has taught at The College of William and Mary and the University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop and is a partner at the future forecasting firm, Popular Operations.


Jennifer Wells, Senior Manager of Product Development for PBS Interactive Ventures
Jennifer Wells has been developing educational games for kids for nearly 15 years. She’s currently Sr. Manager, Game and App Publishing at PBS, where she creates educational iPhone and iPod Touch apps for young kids in partnership with some of PBS’s most popular shows and characters. She’s also working on a PhD in Communication at Auckland University of Technology, focused on how children interact with touch screen devices.