A Stranger in a Strange Land (with apologies to Robert Heinlein)

Wanted to do a quick share of an article I just wrote for another blog….hope you all enjoy it. Please let me know your thoughts! /k

Behavior Analysis and Technology

I had a really interesting discussion today with a kids’ learning app developer. She was upset because her app, which got rave reviews from a number of other review sites, had received a letter grade of “F” from us at Balefire Labs. To her credit, she wanted to talk about and better understand our review criteria. I took her through our criteria and explained where and how her app didn’t meet them. I gave examples of how her team could make some simple (and some not-so-simple) changes to their app so that it would meet our criteria and earn a higher grade. We chatted at some length about how to design instruction to achieve student mastery. She seemed to get it. But at the end of the call she said to me, “Well, that’s not really what our app is intended to do. It’s not really supposed to…

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A critique of PBL and the ‘new’ pedagogies

This is a wonderful post about evidence-based instruction and the “new” pedagogies. I encourage anyone who want to structure their instruction around student performance data (not to be confused with high stakes assessment data) to read this. Don’t be sucked in by the most popular “flavor of the month” educational trends!

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What Now

Thought I’d share this recent guest blog post that I wrote for EdTech Digest. App integration in the classroom is a challenge for so many teachers…hope this helps!


5 questions for integrating apps in the classroom.

GUEST COLUMN | by Karen Mahon

CREDIT Balefire LabsYou’re on a roll. You have new tablet devices in your classroom or school. You’ve learned how to use them. You’ve done your planning and have an Acceptable Use Policy. And, of course, you’ve selected some instructional apps that sound like they’ll be great for your students.

But now you’re confronted with actually implementing these apps. And you’re wondering, “What now?” These five questions will help get you started.

There aren’t too many perfect apps out there. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t still use them meaningfully.

  1. “What does this app teach my students to do?”

Never mind what the description in the app store says. Use the app yourself and describe what skills the app teaches. Pay no attention to what the students are expected to “understand” or “know.” Put an action verb in there!…

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Creating a Content Strategy for Mobile Devices in the Classroom

Center on Innovations in LearningI feel so fortunate to have been asked by the Center on Innovations in Learning (CIL), at Temple University, to prepare a classroom guide for content strategy and mobile devices. As most of you know, this has been a long-time passion of mine and the good people at CIL gave me an opportunity to write all about it. Continue reading

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3-Minute Video Explaining the Common Core

I really enjoyed this simple (and, I thought, elegant) explanation of why the Common Core State Standards are important! See what you think…. Continue reading

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Who is Education’s Customer?

Today I attended a session about the relationships between business and education. The session was put on by the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education, a non-profit group that does really good work in my state to improve education on the policy level. The purpose of the session was to discuss how to get businesses more involved in supporting and helping improve education. There were a couple of consultants there who presented some findings of a Harvard Business School study looking at competitiveness in the global economy. Specifically they addressed recent policies or movements that have been most helpful to improving education and student achievement.  Continue reading

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Who are these people who are against learning facts?

This post is simply outstanding…Harry Webb captures the precise problem with new kinds of “progressive” education. Many of the comments are also fantastic, so take the time to check those out as well.

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inBloom & Net Neutrality: I’ve Got the Blues

Blue_SadTwo things happened in the news this week that have me really bummed out.

The first is that inBloom announced that it is winding down. The purpose of inBloom was to be a data repository for student data; a resource that would help teachers make sense of vast amounts of student performance data to then better individualize instruction. It seems like the words were no sooner out of my mouth last week when I posted that educators were worried about the wrong thing with big data when THIS happened! Continue reading

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Educators Are Worried About the Wrong Thing With “Big Data”

big dataIt seems that we are awash in data in education, especially edtech, lately. I’m a big data junkie, so I find it tremendously exciting. With the advances in technology we have the opportunity to collect real-time performance data at a level of detail that just wasn’t possible before. And with good data and people who understand what those data mean, well, the possibilities just seem endless for how we can improve and individualize instruction for kids. Continue reading

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2014 – Finalists & Winners

Friends, just had to share this today….my company, Balefire Labs, won the Cool Tool Award for Best New EdTech Product or Service for 2014 from EdTech Digest! We are beyond excited!


EdTech Digest Awards Program 2014 | Spirit of Innovation

Spirit of InnovationFor so many reasons, the education technology space is moving forward with great momentum and robust spirit. A confluence of factors — the right time, technology and people — has made for a superlative year. With top talent and quality in so many corners, it wasn’t an easy selection process, but we are shining a spotlight on some of the best and brightest tools, leaders and trendsetters pushing forward today’s education revolution for the benefit of future generations. There are now thousands of startups, apps and companies working in edtech, more than ever before. The introduction of new methods, ideas, products and frameworks for learning, the willingness of investors to power such ingenuity through, or for startups making a go of it to boldly bootstrap their own efforts — and the real results that come of it — all converge to…

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