Sarina Simon: Influences and Influencers | Edtech


Screen Time, the New Digital Divide?

16 May 2018, Posted by Sarina Simon in Children's Media, Edtech, instructional design, kids' media

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…

Making A Difference

04 Apr 2018, Posted by Sarina Simon in Advice for Edtech Aspirants, Edtech, instructional design

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…

Augmented Reality to Increase User Engagement

24 Oct 2016, Posted by Sarina Simon in Children's Media, Distance Learning, Edtech, electronic books, English as a Second Language, instructional design, kids' media, Learning Science, Mobile App Development, Uncategorized

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…

“The Big Short” – The Best Educational “Media” I’ve Seen In Long Time

26 Jan 2016, Posted by Sarina Simon in Advice for Edtech Aspirants, Children's Media, Distance Learning, Edtech, instructional design, Responding to RFPs, Software Engineering, women in technology

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…

Virginia “Ginny” Rice: Pursuing Excellence and Having Fun Along the Way

05 Jan 2016, Posted by Sarina Simon in Advice for Aspiring Producers, Advice for Edtech Aspirants, Distance Learning, Edtech, Expert Interviews, instructional design, Learning Science, women in technology

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…

Jessie Woolley-Wilson: A Leader Who Inspires Others to Dream More, Learn More and Be More

01 Sep 2015, Posted by Sarina Simon in Advice for Aspiring Producers, Advice for Edtech Aspirants, Children's Media, Distance Learning, Edtech, Expert Interviews, kids' media, Learning Science, Online Math Learning, women in technology

Jessie Woolley-Wilson is Chair, President, and CEO of DreamBox Learning, Inc., the company that pioneered Intelligent Adaptive Learning™. She has 20 years of experience in K–12 e-learning and has held several leadership roles in prominent education companies. Before joining DreamBox Learning, Jessie was President of Blackboard’s K– 12 Group where she led the company’s growth for the virtual and blended online learning market. Prior to Blackboard, she was President of LeapFrog SchoolHouse where she established SchoolHouse as a leader in ed-tech and one of the fastest growing educational software producers in the U.S. Jessie also held leadership positions at, the…

Joanne Roberts: Innovating and Leading the Way

21 Aug 2015, Posted by Sarina Simon in Advice for Aspiring Producers, Children's Media, Edtech, Expert Interviews, interactive television, kids' media, women in technology

Joanne Roberts is an entrepreneur, you might say a serial entrepreneur, who’s been working in the media business for more than 30 years. She’s created three successful TV series, run several businesses and worked in new media since 1995. Her focus has been creating programming for kids, teens and women and most recently, she co-founded Now Next Media, LLC with her business partner Peggy Doyle.  They’re currently 100% focused on growing WHAT NOW WHAT NEXT, a collaborative network for women entrepreneurs, 40+. Joanne is also the mom of a 16 year old daughter and spends her time juggling the full…

Ellen Bialo: Edtech Pioneer and Networking Guru

27 Jul 2015, Posted by Sarina Simon in Advice for Aspiring Producers, Distance Learning, Edtech, Expert Interviews, women in technology

The woman with the glowing smile is Ellen Bialo,  CEO, President and Co-Founder of Interactive Educational Systems Design (IESD), an educational market and product development research company recognized in K-20 publishing as a leader in research and analysis. She also founded the DOLS, a professional women’s organization that helps women who work in the business of education help one another.   1. I believe you began your career as a classroom teacher and later segued to the business of education. Can you explain how and why you made this transition? Yes, I was actually a middle school and high school math…

Meet Paul Gartner: VP Software Engineering, National Geographic Society

19 Mar 2015, Posted by Sarina Simon in Edtech, Expert Interviews, Managing Development Teams, Quality Assurance, Software Engineering

Paul Gartner has spent the last 18 years in software development—much of that time running software testing teams. Paul has tested everything from ecommerce, education and content management systems to complex order management and financial software. In the recent past he spent 12 years with K12 Inc. running their software quality assurance department. Now he is at the National Geographic Society where he runs the software engineering team. He has also worked in startups like OneSoft and Etensity as well as large development shops like Ciber. 1. You came to software engineering and quality assurance with a degree in Communication and…

Industrial Design Know-How Meets Children’s Digital Media and Great products are Born

04 Nov 2014, Posted by Sarina Simon in Advice for Aspiring Producers, Advice for Edtech Aspirants, Children's Media, Edtech, Expert Interviews, kids' media, Mobile App Development

An Interview with Michael Chanover, Chief Creative Officer, Fingerprint Play Michael Chanover is the Chief Creative Officer at Fingerprint, a mobile start-up that is the first learning and play network for kids and their grown ups. Prior to Fingerprint, Michael was VP of Product for the Alsop-Louie portfolio company, Kidlandia. Prior to Kidlandia, he was Global Creative Director of Web & Brand at the educational toy company, LeapFrog Enterprises, where he directed products and programs that converge user experience, brand, strategy, Web, and print technologies. Before that, he spent four years in the San Francisco and New York offices of frogdesign, as Executive Producer and General Manager. In addition, Michael was…