Episode 109: Dr. Karen Mahon, Founder / CEO of Balefire Labs

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This episode’s guest is Dr. Karen Mahon, the Founder/CEO of Balefire Labs, a company that reviews ed apps & software. Their work provides a layer of efficacy for parents & teachers to know which apps & software work best for learning design and student experience.

Guest Bio:

Karen MahonDr. Karen Mahon is an Educational Psychologist and Instructional Designer with more than 15 years’ experience in education technology.

Karen was Principal Investigator and Research Scientist at Praxis, Inc., a Waltham (MA) ed tech startup that produced instructional software for children with severe and profound disabilities. While at Praxis, Karen successfully generated National Institutes of Health Small Business Innovation Research grants totaling close to $4M. Other previous appointments have included Global Senior Manager of Learning Sciences at Mimio Interactive Teaching Technologies and Research Assistant Professor at the University of Kansas.

Karen received her Ed.D. and M.A. in Educational Psychology from West Virginia University, her Product Management Certificate from the University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of Business, and her B.A. in Psychology from the University of California, San Diego.

source: Balefirelabs.com

Show Notes:

(02:10) Karen’s background

(03:45) Can you tell us about Balefire Labs and the work that you’re trying to accomplish for customers?

(05:32) Can you talk about the evaluation process and criteria when you take a look at an app or a series of apps? Who’s doing it and what criteria do you go through in evaluating what’s good and bad?

(09:21) So how many apps have you evaluated at this point over the last 3-4 years?

(09:25) What would you say is the percentage of apps that fit that criteria the minimum 80%?

(12:38) If we talk about the ones that have been most successful,  gotten the highest grades, could you give us the top 3 to 5, the ones that have really considered the best learning practices?

(15:08) What was your take on Duolingo and that service for learning a foreign language?



(18:57) You talked about the ones that have scored lower or maybe are a C and a B and really want to get up at the A level, do you find the product strategists at these companies, or the CEOs and co-founders, do they come to you and ask potentially for consulting work, on how to fill those gaps to get up to an A level and get re-evaluated? What do you see as far as their response to this?

(20:40) Do you think that’s starting to change? Or have you not seen the demand curve tilt in that way yet?

(23:51) What is the book that’s most influenced you and why?

Visible Learning by John Hattie

(25:14) If you could have dinner with one person you admire, past or present, who would it be and why?

Eleanor Roosevelt



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  1. Founder Karen Mahon Appears on the Meet Education Project | Balefire Labs - November 19, 2015

    […] can find Karen's interview here or download it from […]

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