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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…

Ken Locker: Always At the Leading Edge

05 Aug 2014, Posted by Sarina Simon in Advice for Aspiring Producers, English as a Second Language, Expert Interviews, interactive television, kids' media, Mobile App Development

Ken Locker is the COO of the Living English Company, which has created an integrated cloud based software platform for companies that employ Hispanic blue-collar workers who do not speak English well. It offers a complete mobile app for administrators, supervisors and workers, incorporating language learning, vocational training and workforce managementHe has more than twenty years of senior management experience in the media industry, with expertise in digital content production, game and app development, distribution, online video operations and monetization, social media and marketing. Previously, Ken was the Chief Operating Officer of Film Domain Media Group, which offers multi-platform digital VOD…

Laura Foti Cohen—A Renaissance Woman in Contemporary Clothing

17 Jul 2014, Posted by Sarina Simon in Advice for Aspiring Producers, Editorial Expertise, Marketing, social media

Laura Foti Cohen started her career in book publishing, but found it moved too slowly for her. She then spent several years as a journalist for Audio Times and Billboard, covering audio technology at the dawn of the digital age, music video at the dawn of MTV and home video at the demise of the Betamax before leaving for a job in RCA Records’ video division. In 1987, she made the move from New York to Los Angeles and linear to interactive, joining Philips Media as Marketing Director, rising to Senior VP. Since 1996 she has run Sound Input, a…

Max Dichter—Creativity, Versatility and Drive

02 Jul 2014, Posted by Sarina Simon in Advice for Aspiring Producers, Expert Interviews, interactive television, Mobile App Development

Max Dichter describes himself as a “40 something Vice President of Product at a home services startup with over 18 years of experience in the industry. “  He has two kids and, in describing his work, says, “each day at work feels like my first day on the job.”  Anyone who knows Max knows he’s very modest.  So let me fill you in. Max currently works at SERVIZ  as VP of Product Marketing.  Prior to SERVIZ, he was Director of Production for Mattel Digital Network where he lead a large team responsible for the production and brand engagement of Mattel’s…

Jeancarlo Ascorra: A Peruvian Artist with North and South American Sensibilities

10 Jun 2014, Posted by Sarina Simon in Animation, Expert Interviews, Game Design, Graphic Design, HTML5, kids' media, Mobile App Development

Jeancarlo Ascorra is the Art Director at, NorthSouth Studios (yes—my company), and has been for the last ten years.  We were very lucky to find Jeancarlo, an artist who knows how to straddle two cultures and bring the both of best to his work. His very first job for us called for Disney-style illustration and we (and our client) were blown away by his talent. Before joining NorthSouth, Jeancarlo had eight years of Art Direction experience, with expertise in graphic design, creativity, illustration and advertising. Previously he worked at BBDO in Peru and freelanced at many other advertising and production…

CREATIVE CONTENT FOR PINT-SIZED PEOPLE

30 Apr 2014, Posted by Sarina Simon in Expert Interviews

Meet award-winning children’s writer and content designer, Rachael Sophia Tobener.  Rachael has worked with a wide range of companies, including Disney, LeapFrog, Crayola, Discovery Kids and Fingerprint Play. Though she has only been in the business for 15 years, she has written 10 full-length video scripts, designed more than 30 mobile apps, produced more than 50 toys, and authored more than 75 interactive books for kids.  Besides being prolific, Rachael is just plain good at what she does.  I sat with Rachael (in the virtual-seating sense) and asked her about her career.  Her answers are candid and reveal a person…

Instructional Design Lessons From Lima

21 Apr 2014, Posted by Sarina Simon in Distance Learning, Edtech, instructional design, Online Language Courses

When I first I started doing business in Peru, I enrolled in a Lima-based language school called El Sol.  I dutifully attended private classes every afternoon for several weeks and was taught by a wonderful young woman who was able to make the lessons interesting for me.  No rote curriculum for her—we talked about the latest government scandals (sometimes racy, but always head-shaking), recipes for divine Peruvian specialties, and my business interests (the internet and digital media, of course).  Almost from day one, I learned vocabulary that I could use both at work and with my new Peruvian friends.  I…

Too Many Apps?

25 Feb 2014, Posted by Sarina Simon in Mobile App Development

95% of Downloaded Apps are Abandoned By Users!   At first it seemed that iTunes was offering  developers something they had longed for–unlimited shelf space.  Would be publishers could now publish their products without having to beg, borrow, or steal distribution.  And, on top of that, developing apps was relatively inexpensive compared to developing CD-ROMS, virtual worlds, or massive online games.  Next came Android, and cross platform frameworks, and so it began, the rush to publish apps. As of 2013, Google Play/Android had an estimated 800,00 apps.  Apple iTunes, 775,000 apps, and Windows 125,000 apps.  And it is estimated that…

7 Challenges for Computer-Based Testing

23 Jan 2014, Posted by Sarina Simon in Edtech, Expert Interviews, Standardized Testing

Expert Insights: Erik Amerikaner, Master Teacher This year California school districts will be using computer-based internet delivered standardized exams. On the surface, this makes a lot of sense, and as an edtech advocate, it seems like an idea whose time has more than come. The ability to aggregate, parse and analyze data to learn more about students and teachers to improve learning sounds like a win. However, as a former educator, I know that’s just part of the story. Implementing successful change in schools is not a simple yes-no proposition.   I asked Erik Amerikaner , a National Board for Teacher…

Mobile Apps and Kids, or Plus ça change?*

25 Dec 2013, Posted by Sarina Simon in kids' media, Mobile App Development

Just when I was beginning to feel that mobile apps have truly changed the way kids learn and play, a former colleague who hasn’t worked in the learning space for years gave me pause to reflect. We were catching up when she mentioned she’d been contacted to write a script for a fun learning app for a major developer.  She added that she was not up to date with technology and didn’t know if she could do it. I sent her a list of popular apps and told her to take a look.  To my surprise, she called me in…