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2014 Speakers

Sugata Mitra


Dr. Sugata Mitra is Professor of Educational Technology at the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences at Newcastle University, England. While Dr. Mitra's 30 years of research spans a wide range of disciplines, he has earned his greatest recognition for his creative experiment known as the Hole in the Wall, which showed that children can teach themselves and each other when they’re motivated by curiosity and peer interest. Dr. Mitra's work inspired the book Slumdog Millionaire that went on to become the Oscar winning film of 2009. Dr. Mitra received the 2013 TED Prize that is awarded annually to an exceptional individual to help spark global change. He was also named one of the Top 10 Thinkers of 2013 by CNN.

Nirvan Mullick


Nirvan is an LA based filmmaker, creative consultant, speaker, and entrepreneur.


Nirvan began teaching himself animation while studying philosophy at New College. He went on to earn an MFA in Experimental Animation from CalArts. Nirvan's animated short films have screened in festivals worldwide, winning numerous awards. In 2001, Nirvan began an ongoing collaborative experiment called The 1 Second Film, which became among the first crowdfunded films. In 2012, Nirvan directed Caine's Arcade, an 11-minute short film that became a viral phenomenon, receiving over 8 million views and sparking a global movement of cardboard creativity in kids around the world. After Caine's Arcade, Nirvan founded the non-profit Imagination Foundation to find, foster, and fund creativity and entrepreneurship in more kids. Nirvan has received the Dan Eldon Creative Activist Award and the Innovation in Action award.


Nirvan is a partner at Interconnected, consults with companies and non-profits, serves on the board of CicLAvia, and tries to keep up with his garden and email.  

Annette Diefenthaler


Annette Diefenthaler is a Senior Design Lead at IDEO. Since joining IDEO in January 2008, Annette has led teams in designing solutions as diverse as bank branches, toys, hospital experiences, and the future vision for a university. Her work has received multiple design awards. Annette’s passion is bringing human-centered design to systemic challenges in education. She has worked with clients in K-12 and higher education, rethinking learning tools, empowering entrepreneurs to design teaching apps, and envisioning a new educational model for an entire state. Annette is co-author of IDEO’s Design Thinking Toolkit for Educators. She regularly speaks about design thinking and education.  Based in New York, Annette grew up in Germany and has lived and worked in many cultures, including Russia, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia. In her free time, she is usually training for her next marathon.

Kristen Swanson


An educational leader and curriculum writer, Kristen is a renowned teacher, professional developer, writer, speaker, and consultant on impactful learning designs. She has worked directly under the tutelage of Dr. Grant Wiggins and authored both Professional Learning in the Digital Age (2013) and Teaching the Common Core Speaking and Listening Standards (2013). A founder of the Edcamp movement, Kristen is also passionate about effective teacher education. Kristen has a doctorate from Widener University in Educational Leadership.

Greg Bamford


Greg Bamford is an educator, strategist, and the incoming Head of School at Watershed School in Boulder, Colorado. A former high school teacher and department chair, he works with schools as a consultant on assessment, faculty development, design thinking, and strategic planning. In 2011, Greg was the Curator of TEDxOverlake on the theme of “How People Learn.” Later that year, he co-founded Leading is Learning, an educational collaborative which later merged with the Santa Fe Leadership Center to become Leadership+Design. He holds an Ed.M. in Educational Leadership from Columbia University, and is a featured presenter on education at events throughout the country.

Kami Thordarson


After teaching for twenty-plus years, Kami Thordarson took on a new role as the Innovative Strategies Coach for the Los Altos School District in 2012. Kami was a pilot teacher for the Khan Academy program in 2010 where she helped implement and design the blended learning model currently being adopted in all fifth through eighth grades. She is a graduate of the 2011 MERIT program through the Krause Center for Innovation and has led classes on project-based learning, digital storytelling, and design thinking. She envisions a real-world classroom in which teachers are empowered to transform education through technology and innovative practices, where students take ownership of their education, and classrooms are collaborative, problem-solving communities.


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