Karen Mahon never had the goal to start her own business, but after seeing too much instructional “junk” out there, she couldn’t hold back. “If you read the marketing claims of most ed tech products on the market today you will see that pretty much all of them say that they improve kids’ learning. And it just isn’t so,” she says. As president and founder of Balefire Labs, a subscription service for parents and educators, she has made it her mission to keep school curriculum and technology directors from having to reinvent the wheel by coming up with their own screening systems, to help teachers and parents, and to drive spending dollars toward those developers who are really doing a good job creating high quality instructional products. The most common question she hears from parents and teachers? “How can I tell that an app actually teaches?” As very few app developers conduct efficacy tests with students and even fewer provide data from those tests to customers — and short of going out and doing efficacy tests for the 150,000+ educational apps available in app stores — Balefire Labs has set out to help inform those in and around education to select the most effective apps according to whether or not it’s truly instructional. Check back for an in-depth interview with Karen coming soon. Meanwhile, find out more about their criteria, philosophy, and mission.
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