Big Ideas Fest 2012

December 2 - 5, 2012
At the Big Ideas Fest 2012, teachers, policy makers, researchers, eduprenuers, students and funders gather together to discuss the future of education


Black Girls Code: Crashing the Digital Gender Divide

By asking, "What does a computer engineer look like?" Kimberly Bryant, founder of Black Girls Code, shows how the digital divide has widened between genders. Bryant stresses why it's important to encourage girls of color to get into computer science.

Caine's Arcade: Building a Better World from Cardboard

Filmmaker Nirvan Mullick describes the Global Cardboard Challenge, an annual event that celebrates kids and their communities around the world putting creativity and entrepreneurship to work with cardboard. 

George Lakoff: Teaching Happens Away From the Computer

UC Berkeley Linguistics and Cognitive Science Professor George Lakoff  looks at how we communicate through education and stresses the importance of getting students to care about what they're doing.

How Fox News Censored The 99's Muslim Superheroes

Naif Al-Mutawa, creator of The 99,  talks about the reaction to his comic book - about superheroes from the Islamic and Middle Eastern world - including its censorship in the United States.

How MusicianCorps is Recruiting and Re-Tuning Musicians

Kiff Gallagher talks about how the idea of national service inspired him to found MusicianCorps, a way for musicians to be creative while giving back to their community.

Karen Cator: With Edtech, It's About Attitude Not Age

Karen Cator, Director of the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education, looks at teachers as "digital immigrants" and how they are learning to use technology as a tool in the classroom.

Matt Harding: Getting 5 Minutes of the World's Time

Matt Harding, creator and star of the viral video "Where the Hell Is Matt?", talks about his world travels and his experience of learning to share his adventures. 

Metrics and Incentives: How to Get Students to Graduate

Mary Anne Schmitt-Carey, President of Say Yes to Education, Inc., offers strategies to improve in-school support and get better outcomes from education reform.

New Roots for Students in a South Bronx Classroom

Stephen Ritz, founder of Green Bronx Machine, shares how moving the classroom outside to a South Bronx farm raised attendance and got his students actively involved in their education.

Open (Source) Dialogue: Joan Blades Talks Civility

Joan Blades, founder of MomsRising and, introduces Living Room Conversations, an open-source project to bring civility to conversations between opposing views. 

Smarthistory: Replacing the Art Textbook with Multimedia

Beth Harris and Steven Zucker, founders of Smarthistory at Khan Academy, explain how a multimedia approach to art history allows students to contextualize art and immersed in an dynamic conversation.

Startup Weekend Does Edtech: Bait and Switch Education

Khalid Smith, Education Leader for Startup Weekend, looks at the importance of project-based learning and bringing together ideas from the education and tech worlds to get students to "start doing." 

Teach Different: Redefining Gender Roles & Role Models

Eli Whitney Museum director William Brown investigates why gender roles impacted the performance of one school's rubber band car experiment and how teachers make a difference.

TeachAIDS: Biology Redefines HIV Education and Awareness

Shuman Ghosemajumder, co-founderof TeachAIDs, discusses taking a biological approach to HIV education - understanding it first as a virus, as a way of separating it from sex education.

About this conference

Big Ideas Fest convenes all education stakeholders in redesigning the future of education. ISKME's annual event brings together teachers, policy makers, researchers, eduprenuers, students, and funders who are championing the transformation of K-20 education.

Working across traditional silos in education, Big Ideas Fest engages participants from the ballroom stage to outdoor fire pits, from the hallways to the parking lot roof, and from face-to-face networking to inspiring rapid fire speakers, all infused with activities that inspire and activate new ideas. That's a promise!


The Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME), an independent non-profit research institute established in 2002, is a pioneer in knowledge sharing and educational innovation. Dedicated to the study, spread, and strategic use of knowledge management in education, ISKME helps schools, colleges, universities, and the organizations that support them expand their capacity to collect and share information, apply it to well-defined problems, and create open knowledge-driven environments focused on learning and success. In assisting the K-20 education sector, ISKME also helps philanthropic organizations and government agencies examine and improve their own and their grantees’ processes for continuous improvement, evaluation, and learning.

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