Date: October 2, 2013
Karen Mahon, Ed.D. — Balefire Labs, Inc.

There are hundreds of thousands of apps available in the app store and the numbers are ever increasing. A reasonable percentage of these apps focus on education. But there are few apps that quantify their effectiveness or value for the students who use them or the teachers and parents who purchase them.

How can behavioral science, instructional design, gaming and UX/UI design assist in this effort, not only to build products that are effective and fun, but to define these metrics and educate consumers about how to identify them? What makes an app AWESOME and how can we quantify that? Not only in terms of fun, but in terms of teaching kids meaningful stuff! This talk will explore these questions, using example apps to illustrate the relevant features.

This event is sponsored by Clarity Innovations, which is paying for non-members to attend for free. Seating is limited, so you should register in advance to be sure you have a seat!

About the Speaker
Karen Mahon (@balefirelabs) is a Learning Scientist and Educational Psychologist whose expertise is in Instructional Design and Behavior Change programs. She holds an M.A. and Ed.D. in Educational Psychology, with a graduate minor in the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, from West Virginia University and a Certificate in Product Management from the University of California at Berkeley. ?

Karen has spent the last 15+ years in education technology and instructional software. Following graduate school she was a Research Faculty member at the University of Kansas, before moving to the private sector. For almost 10 years she wrote grants, funded by the National Institutes of Health, to support the design and development of educational software for the most difficult-to-teach kids, those with severe developmental disabilities. Following that, she spearheaded the global digital content strategy for a manufacturer of classroom technology hardware products, Mimio Interactive Teaching Technologies.

Karen is now the President and Founder of Balefire Labs (, an online educational app review service that helps parents and teachers identify apps that provide the best instruction. Balefire Labs utilizes research-based instructional and usability design criteria to review mobile apps for grades PreK-12. The review criteria are clear and objectively-defined, allowing parents and teachers to easily understand how apps are designed and what they do. Further, Balefire Labs does not accept advertising, nor does it accept payment for reviews, ensuring its impartiality. The mission of Balefire Labs is to help parents and teachers reduce their frustration and spend money wisely, and, ultimately, to help improve children’s learning.