2010 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.


Robin Cannito, Assosciate Outreach Producer, THIRTEEN
Robin Cannito is an Associate 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.


Seann Dikkers, Ph.D. Candidate, UW – Madison School of Education, Curriculum and Instruction
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.


Brock Dubbels, Teacher and Teacher Educator, The Center for Cognitive Sciences, the University of Minnesota; and Founder, vgAlt
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.


Carla Fisher, Children’s Technology Developer & Doctoral Candidate, Teachers College, Columbia University
Children’s Technology Developer & Doctoral Candidate, Teachers College, Columbia University Carla works as a children’s technology developer, game designer, educational researcher, and author. She is also 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. Through the course of her career, she has worked for Highlights for Children, PBS KIDS Interactive, Sesame Workshop, and a host of other children’s media groups to produce and consult on interactive content that includes a wide variety of games and educational Web sites. Carla also holds a master’s degree in media studies from the New School University and has, on occasion, been known to make 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.


Robert J. Vitello, Deputy Commissioner for Planning and Technology and Chief Information Technology Officer for the New York State Department of Labor.
Robert is responsible for developing improved, more cost-effective business processes at the Labor Department, typically bringing computer technology to the service of Labor’s governmental programs. He has established Labor’s first strategic technology agenda, outlined at http://www.labor.ny.gov/cioshares. He is the author of many concept papers that have gone on to influence or define projects undertaken by Labor or by Labor’s partners, including “Transient Youth Portfolio,” developed for the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet to explore ways to support youths as they leave institutional and foster care settings, and prepare to enter the labor force(http://www.labor.ny.gov/cioshares/pdf/transientYouthProfile.pdf). Robert is a frequent lecturer on such topics as innovation, games in education, Service Oriented Architecture, agile programming, open source development, legal electronic discovery, and enterprise technology management.


Jim Diamond, Research Associate at the Education Development Center/Center for Children and Technology
Jim Diamond is a Research Associate at the Education Development Center/Center for Children and Technology, where he works on several projects related to video games and formal and informal learning in science and history education. He is also a Ph.D. candidate at NYU, researching video games for historical understanding.


Jennifer Goodall, Service Assistant Professor, Department of Informatics Assistant Dean for U 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.


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.


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.


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.


Scott Cummings, Assistant Director, PBS KIDS Interactive
As Assistant Director of PBS KIDS Interactive, Scott Cummings works with PBS KIDS producers and developers to create educational games and Web content for children, parents and educators for sites such as CLIFFORD THE BIG RED DOG, CAILLOU, SESAME STREET, SUPER WHY and MAMA MIRABELLE’S HOME MOVIES. He has led the effort to create a destination for Interactive Whiteboard Games on PBS KIDS at pbskids.org/whiteboard/. Scott is currently exploring new platforms for PBS KIDS such as the SMART Table and is working with the producers of the upcoming PBS KIDS science series THE CAT IN THE HAT KNOWS A LOT ABOUT THAT to bring new educational games and activities to pbskids.org in Fall 2010.


Alex Tapnio, Senior Manager, National Programs, the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers
Alex Tapnio is the Senior Manager, National Programs with the Alliance. Alex earned his Master’s degree in Visual Arts Administration from New York University, concentrating in corporate arts philanthropy and programming, and holds a B.A. in Art History and B.S. in Biology from Indiana University. He has worked in some of our nation’s most prestigious museums including the American Museum of Natural History, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and the Museum of Modern Art. After New York University, he was hired as a philanthropy consultant at the J.P. Morgan Chase Foundation assisting in the management of grants for arts-in-education, dance, theater, and museums. In 2003, Alex joined the Alliance as the manager of the NYC Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.


Colleen Macklin, Digital Artist, Interaction Designer and Associate Professor, Communication Design and Technology, Parsons
Colleen Macklin is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Design and Technology at Parsons The New School for Design in New York City and Director of PETLab (Prototyping Evaluation, Teaching and Learning lab), a lab focused on developing new games, simulations, and play experiences for experimental learning and social issues. Projects range from a curriculum in game design for the Boys and Girls Club, a card game for the Red Cross Climate Centre, and big games such as Re:Activism and the sport Budgetball. In addition to work in social games and interactive media, her research focuses on the social aspects of the design and prototyping process. In this vein, she is working with the Social Science Research Council on a prototyping approach to creating innovative mobile learning spaces with youth, public schools and cultural institutions, with funding through the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning Initiative. Member of the game design collectives Local No. 12 (see backchattergame.com) and The Leisure Society. India China Institute Fellow (2006-2007). Interactive work shown at Come Out and Play, SoundLab, The Whitney Museum for American Art and Creative Time. BFA, Media Arts Pratt Institute, graduate studies in Computer Science, CUNY and International Affairs, The New School.


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.


Jan Plass, Co-Director for Games For Learning Institute
Jan L. Plass is a Professor of Educational Communication and Technology in the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University, where he co-directs the NYU Games for Learning Institute. He is the founding director of the CREATE Consortium for Research and Evaluation of Advanced Technology in Education. His research is at the intersection of cognitive science, learning sciences, and design, and seeks to enhance the design of visual environments. His current focus is on cognitive and emotional aspects of information design and interaction design of simulations and educational games for mathematics and science education and second language acquisition. He has received funding for his research from the U.S. Department of EducationÂ’s Institute of Education Sciences, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and, most recently, from Microsoft Research and the Motorola Foundation.


Meagan Rothschild, PhD Student at University of Wisconsin at Madison and Educational Multimedia Consultant
Meagan Rothschild is an Instructional Design and Educational Programs consultant in Madison, Wisconsin. She recently made the courageous leap to chilly Wisconsin from balmy Hawaii to pursue her PhD with the Games Learning and Society program at the University of Wisconsin- Madison. Prior to her move, Meagan served as the Instructional Designer for Cosmos Chaos!, an innovative video game designed to support struggling fourth grade readers developed by Pacific Resources for Education and Learning (PREL). Her experience at PREL also includes the design of a violence and substance abuse prevention curriculum for Native Hawaiian students, using an interdisciplinary approach that merges health and language arts content standards to support literacy driven prevention activities.

Meagan has six years of experience in the Hawaii Department of Education system serving in varied roles, including high school classroom teacher, grant writer and manager, technology coordinator, and Magnet E-academy coordinator. Meagan has a BA and MEd from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, with undergraduate studies in Hawaiian Language and special education, and a post graduate degree in Educational Technology. As a PhD student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, her work now focuses on planning and developing multimedia environments that merge research-based educational principles with gaming strategies to engage student learners.


Erik Sand, VP of Sales and Business Development, 360Ed, Inc.
With most of its senior team composed of executive alumni from well-known game giant Electronic Arts, 360Ed has partnered with Florida Virtual School to fulfill a vision of providing engaging game-based and rich media content for education. This partnership has yielded Conspiracy Code, a series of action-adventure games that are complete, one-credit high school social studies courses designed to be both engaging and yet meet rigorous educational standards. The current installments in this series are American History and Intensive Reading courses. Each have been in pilot with several hundred students for the past year in Florida and select clients around the country. Eriks presentation will focus on the experiences and lessons learned in designing, developing, and deploying game-based courses in virtual school and lab environments.

A native Upstate New Yorker and alumni of Rensselaer, Erik is Vice President of Sales and Business Development for 360Ed, an educational game and rich media development studio based in Orlando, Florida. For the past two years, Erik, partnered with Florida Virtual School, has focused on helping school districts around the country launch and operate virtual school programs. In this capacity, Erik and his team have assisted districts, charter schools, and other organizations new to virtual education In strategy, curriculum selection, and professional development. Prior to 360Ed, Erik spent 12 years with IBM in various management and consulting positions, most recently as an Associate Partner in Global Business Services, where he was responsible for the sales and delivery of full life-cycle application development projects. Erik has held positions with Gensym, Digital Equipment Corporation, and General Electric spanning many different sales, consulting, engineering, and technical roles. Erik holds a BS, MS, and MBA degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and is an active in Boy Scouts of America. He resides in Winter Park, Florida with his wife and four children.


Kelly Schermerhorn, Model Schools Coordinator, Questar III
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.


Michael Tomaino, Game Design Teacher at Mildred Elley College and Project Lead of Kids Software Platinum Arts Sandbox Free 3D Game Maker
Michael Tomaino has been working with various game engines for over ten years and has a BA in Psychology with an emphasis in Child Psychology from Siena College. He was the project lead of the multiple award winning Doom 3 Coop Mod Last Man Standing and received the best Doom 3 Mod Of The Year Award at the GDC held IGF awards ceremony. During his breaks working on the Mod, Michael found that he really enjoyed playing with the neighborhood kids and that something was missing in his life. This lead him into the field of Childcare as a site director of a before and afterschoool program at Lincoln Elementary School in Scotia. He recieved the Percentage Growth Award for over doubling the enrollment, reaching maximum program capacity. To help the kids explore their imaginations and create stories, he used his game design experience to create a program for them that would allow them to easily manipulate 3D worlds. This was the birth of Platinum Arts Sandbox, a free 3D Game Maker and World creation program available at http://Sandboxgamemaker.com The software is now being used in many schools and colleges throughout the world. In addition to continously developing Sandbox, Michael Tomaino now teaches Game Design at Mildred Elley College, founded and teaches Game Design at the After School Program at Catholic High in Troy, and teaches at summer kids camps for game design including at Mildred Elley and Ballston Spa. Through these opportunties he has been able to witness the incredible excitement and joy of his students enjoying Sandbox. In addition, he greatly enjoys babysitting for local families and their little friends.


Nick Webb, Senior Scientist, Institute for informatics, Logic and Secruity Studies (ILS) at U Albany
Nick Webb is a Senior Research Scientist at the Institute for Informatics, Logics and Security Studies, at the University at Albany, SUNY, USA. Previously he was a Research Fellow in the Natural Language Processing Group at the University of Sheffield, UK, and a Research Officer at the University of Essex, UK, where he also obtained a B.Sc. in Artificial Intelligence and an M.Sc. in Computational Linguistics. His research encompasses a range of language processing problems, including Information Extraction, Question Answering and Dialogue Systems. His Ph.D. from the University of Sheffield concerned empirical dialogue analysis, using statistical techniques to build models for dialogue act recognition. He is currently the principal investigator of the NSF-funded Pathways to Revitalized Undergraduate Computing Education (CPATH) initiative for Social Robotics in the Capital Region.


Josh Sheldon, Project Manager, MIT Scheller Teacher Education Program
Josh Sheldon is an educator and technologist at the Scheller Teacher Education Program lab at MIT. At STEP, he works primarily on handheld learning games, both building the games themselves, and working on a toolkit to empower students and teachers to become game designers. In addition to managing technology development, he works directly with teachers to engage them in learning with and through games and game design. His recent projects include work on the MITAR game toolkit, the related NSF-funded project Community Science Investigators, and contributions to the Ubiquitous Games platform via the game Weatherlings, a cross between a collectible card game and your local weather forecast. Prior to STEP, Sheldon was a classroom teacher and an early designer of online interactives for science and online communities for teachers and students with the JASON Project.


Maureen Pagano, Executive Director of The Capital Region Center Institute for the Arts in Education
Maureen Pagano is Executive Director of The Capital Region Center Institute for the Arts in Education, an independent not-for-profit housed on the UAlbany East Campus. In 2010 CRCIAIE became a subsidiary of Capital Area School Development Association and a next-door neighbor to the Greater Capital Region Teacher Center. CRCIAIE provides comprehensive professional development for educators using live works of art to develop Capacities for Imagination as articulated in Lincoln Center Institute’s practice. Maureen has collaborates with Dr. Sam Bowser, polar researcher, to bring artwork based on artist-scientist collaboration into schools as focus of study.


Samuel Bowser, Senior Research Scientist, New York State Department of Health
Samuel Bowser, Ph.D. is a Senior Research Scientist in the Laboratory of Cell Regulation, Division of Molecular Medicine in the NYS Department of Health.