Speaker Bios

Janice Earle, PhD has been at the National Science Foundation since 1991 and has worked with several of the Foundation’s education programs in the Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR). She currently serves as Senior Program Director for K-12 STEM Education where she is responsible for several Foundation-wide activities. Previously Dr. Earle served as Coordinator for EHR’s program evaluation activities and as the cluster lead for the Research and Evaluation on Education in Science and Engineering (REESE) and CAREER programs housed in the Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings. She works with several of the agency’s policy-oriented efforts such as those with the National Academy of Sciences National Research Council, and the U.S. Department of Education.

Barry Fishman, PhD is an Associate Professor of Learning Technologies in the University of Michigan School of Education and also the School of Information. His research focuses on: teacher learning and the role of technology in supporting teacher learning, video games as models for learning environments, and the development of usable, scalable, and sustainable learning innovations through design-based implementation research (DBIR). Dr. Fishman served as an Associate Editor of The Journal of the Learning Sciences from 2005-2012, and was a co-author of the Obama Administration’s 2010 U.S. National Educational Technology Plan.

Daniel T. Hickey, PhD is an Associate Professor and Program Head in the Learning Sciences program at Indiana University in Bloomington, and a Research Professor with the Indiana University Center for Research on Learning and Technology. He studies assessment, motivation, and research methods, primarily in the context of technology-supported learning environments. From 2012 to 2014, Dr. Hickey is leading a project to identify the design principles for using digital badges that emerge from the MacArthur Foundation’s Badges for Lifelong Learning initiative.

Margaret Honey, PhD is President and CEO of the New York Hall of Science. She is widely recognized for her work using digital technologies to support children’s learning across the disciplines of science, mathematics, engineering and technology. She has directed numerous research projects including efforts to identify teaching practices and assessments for 21st century skills, new approaches to teaching computational science in high schools, collaborations with PBS, CPB and some of the nation’s largest public television stations, investigations of data-driven decision-making tools and practices; and with colleagues at Bank Street College of Education, Dr. Honey created one of the first internet-based professional development programs in the country.

Amy Kamarainen, PhD is a visiting scholar at the New York Hall of Science and co-directs the EcoMOBILE project funded through a National Science Foundation grant to the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her doctoral research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison focused on modeling the movement and fate of pollutants in aquatic ecosystems. Her prior experience includes work on an Institute of Education Sciences-funded project called EcoMUVE (ecological multi-user virtual environment), which tested the utility of MUVE technologies to promote ecosystem science learning in middle school science classrooms. Dr. Kamarainen is currently examining the affordances of mobile technologies that bridge formal and informal learning experiences to model authentic scientific practices and promote understanding of scientific data, systems thinking, and ecosystem concepts. The Ecological Society of America named her an Ecology Education Scholar in 2011.

Erin Knight currently spearheads the learning and badge work at Mozilla, which includes building an alternative ecosystem for credentialing and accreditation to support all types of learning through the Open Badges project, as well as developing proof-of-concept exemplar badge systems such as the Mozilla badges and the City of Chicago Summer of Learning badges. She was one of the progenitors of the Open Badges movement and wrote the initial paper on badges that laid the foundation for the overall effort. Previously, Erin served as the Research Director at the Center for Next Generation Teaching and Learning, a non-profit at UC Berkeley committed to researching and promoting technology and practices for student-centered learning.

Akili Lee is the co-founder of the Digital Youth Network, a digital literacy program serving hundreds middle and high school aged youth throughout Chicago. As Director of Digital Strategy and Development, Akili leads DYN’s work in innovating new digital learning tools and supporting youth focused organizations develop models for successfully integrating digital media as a way to increase engagement and effectiveness. Akili is the CEO of Remix Learning, a startup venture that provides the iRemix platform to learning organizations. He is the creator of the iRemix Platform, which allows educators to leverage social networking to extend and create new learning opportunities for youth.

Marc Lesser is a specialist in the fields of educational technology and digital media for learning with broad experience designing programming and learning spaces in local and national learning contexts. Since March of 2008, he directs the design and development of web-based and live learning environments for MOUSE’s national program network. His experience designing learning environments is shaped by previous roles as an educator, trainer, and specialist in the area of arts, media, and technology education. Marc holds a Master’s degree from NYU’s Digital Media Design for Learning program and, in 2012, was named a National School Boards Association “20-to-Watch” among national leaders in education and technology.

Alejandro Molina serves as the Deputy Director of the Providence After School Alliance (PASA). In this role, he oversees the growth and implementation of PASA’s strategies. Prior to PASA, Alejandro worked with youth in New York City, where he was responsible for program coordination, curriculum development, program design and creation, and asset building.

William Penuel, PhD is Professor of Educational Psychology and Learning Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder. His research focuses on teacher learning and organizational processes that shape the implementation of educational policies, school curricula, and afterschool programs. In his research, he examines learning and development from sociocultural, social capital, and complex social systems perspectives. One strand of his research focuses on designs for teacher professional development in Earth science education. A second strand examines the role of research-practice partnerships in designing supports for teacher learning in school districts. A third strand examines how children’s interest in science develops over time and across different kinds of settings. This third strand includes a focus on young children’s learning through digital media, including public television programs. Prof. Penuel is currently Associate Editor of the Social and Institutional Analysis section at the American Educational Research Journal, and serves on the editorial board for Teachers College Record, American Journal of Evaluation, and Cognition and Instruction.

Michael Preston, PhD is the Director of Blended Learning Strategy for the NYC Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Readiness, where he directs programs that employ technology and student-centered learning as a framework for key shifts in curriculum, teaching, and assessment. Previously, Dr. Preston worked at the Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning and taught at Teachers College, where he received a Ph.D. in Cognitive Studies in Education.

Michelle Riconscente, PhD is Deputy Director of SciPlay at the New York Hall of Science. She has over 20 years’ experience designing, implementing, and evaluating innovations in technology to support assessment and learning. Currently, Dr. Riconscente is extending evidence-centered design principles and tools to the design and evaluation of learning experiences that integrate simulations and games with content-area learning and motivation. Previously an assistant professor at the University of Southern California, she authored the first controlled study of an iPad learning app, and her research on student motivation included mixed-methods investigations of U.S. and Mexican students’ subject-matter interest. Previously, at the Coalition of Essential Schools and Education Development Center’s Center for Children and Technology, she designed software to support alternative assessments and contributed to evaluations of large-scale technology programs.

Susan Singer, PhD recently joined the National Science Foundation as Director of the Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE). She is on leave from Carleton College, where she is the Laurence McKinley Gould Professor of Natural Sciences in the Biology Department. She is actively engaged in efforts to improve undergraduate science education and received the Excellence in Teaching award from the American Society of Plant Biology in 2004, co-authors the introductory text Biology with Raven, Johnson, Mason, and Losos. Dr. Singer helped to develop and teaches in Carleton’s Triad Program, a first-term experience that brings students together to explore a thematic question across disciplinary boundaries, as well as a problem solving introductory biology course to bridge the high school to college learning experience. She is a member of the Project Kaleidoscope Board of Directors. At the National Research Council, she was a member of the Committee on Undergraduate Science Education and the Steering Committee on Criteria and Benchmarks for Increased Learning from Undergraduate STEM Instruction and chaired the Committee on High School Science Laboratories: Role and Vision which authored America’s Lab Report; currently she serves on the Board on Science Education and was a science consultant to the NRC Science Learning Kindergarten to Eighth Grade study which authored Taking Science to School.

Peg Steffen is the education coordinator for the Communications and Education Division of NOAA’s National Ocean Service. She started federal service as an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow in the Education Division of NASA in 2000. While at NASA she was an education program manager at NASA Headquarters and started the NASA Explorer Schools program. In 2006 she joined NOAA’s National Ocean Service where she leads a development team that provides web-based products, professional development and educational games. Her classroom teaching experiences span 25 years in grades 8-12 in biology, physics, and astronomy/geology and eight years teaching zoology and geology to pre-service teachers.