Sarina Simon: Influences and Influencers | Influence and Influencers in Digital Media
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Influences and Influencers Insights from Digital Media Insiders

Years ago, when I left book publishing and began creating digital content, well-meaning folks worried that the digital divide would widen the achievement gap in US schools. We campaigned hard to get computers into all schools and libraries. We urged our parent companies to donate equipment. We volunteered to show teachers how to use computers in their classrooms. In short, we were vocal advocates both for equal access and Edtech. Nevertheless, despite our good intentions, for many years, access to computers and other devices was mostly limited to affluent families and school districts. Happily, times have changed—not enough to achieve…

I have been making edtech products for years. I think most of them are excellent, but I rarely have had the chance to measure or see their impact. When I developed consumer products it was easier to find out if users liked them. Sales figures, online reviews, and anecdotal feedback was readily available, but not so with products that are used in schools. Several years ago my company worked on creating courses for JA Academy, a complete online/offline curriculum for high school students. Written by a long time colleague (Laura Cohen), guided by Junior Achievement’s excellent instructional designers and product…

For some time now my colleagues, most of whom are younger and hipper than me, have been extolling the virtues of Augmented Reality.  And they are not alone.  Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, recently stated that he felt AR would be bigger than VR. And most market analysts agree that AR is going to become a huge market opportunity, topping $120 B by 2020. The recent success of Pokemon Go with 100MM downloads worldwide, has made consumers more aware of AR but some would argue that Pokemon Go does not really use AR technology.  That’s an argument that I can’t…

Unfortunately we often read about teachers who have given up on students. Sometimes their motives are benign, but nonetheless damaging.  Take for example the teacher who worries too much about student self-esteem and does not offer challenging curriculum. Then there are those whose motives are not just misguided but downright disdainful–“these kids can’t learn,” “these kids don’t want to learn,” and so forth. Happily this post is not about those that give up, but instead about those that never give up. Instead she was talking about a homework assignment completed by her 67 year old tutee who is no longer…

I used to play games of all kinds.  As a kid I loved board games, word games, almost any kind of competition – especially if I could win.  In recent times, videogames, computer games and mobile games have either been too violent, too time consuming, or too difficult for me to play. Of course, like millions of other people, I played Tetris, and I especially liked it when we licensed it for its first appearance on a CD.  I still remember the tagline we wrote for it.   TETRIS The classic becomes a legend on CD-i ! Too bad so…

Margot Robbie explains sub-prime mortgages in the “Big Short“. Years ago I worked for the Walt Disney Company in their Educational “Media” group.  Our mandate was to create workbooks, filmstrips (yes, filmstrips) and films for the school market. Our goal was to bring the Disney “magic” to learning and we had plenty of good examples to lead the way. Walt Disney was a master communicator.  He knew how to introduce complicated concepts to the average guy and make them understandable and appealing. Of course, he also had large budgets to work with and amazing actors (including Mickey et al) to…

Ginny Rice is an accidental entrepreneur, researcher, problem-solver and designer of programs for education, museums, business, and public information. Her clients have included the National Museum of American History, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Newseum, NIH, Philips Consumer Electronics, and a hôtelier in Vietnam.     1. Your technology roots go back to the early eighties when you   co-founded Lunaria, an “interactive media” company. Can you tell us a bit about the company and how it got started? My partners and I were working at an R&D company designing medical simulations for a start-up. When the founder ran out…

I am varying from my usual format to share something I found very funny and highly relevant to the business of digital media. I recently came across this video from an ad agency in which they effectively mocked the ad industry’s  practice of expecting work on spec, also known as working for free. The ad agency, Toronto-based Zulu Alpha Kilo, released the video on November 2 and it has already garnered over 1 million views. The video suggests that no other businesses operate this way, but as developers we know that at least one more, ours, does.  (By the way…