Deb Roy is an Associate Professor at MIT where he directs the Laboratory for Social Machines (LSM) based at the Media Lab. His lab explores new methods in media analytics (natural language processing, social network analysis, speech, image, and video analysis) and media design (information visualization, games, communication apps) with applications in children’s learning and social listening.

Jim Gray is Research Scientist and Learning Lead at the MIT Media Lab's Laboratory for Social Machines (LSM), where he provides learning-related mentorship, teaching, and leadership. Previously, Jim was VP of Learning Design at Sesame Workshop, Director of Learning at LeapFrog Inc., and consultant to educational technology organizations, including: DreamBox Learning, StoryBots, and Disney Imagicademy. He has conducted research at the Center for Innovative Learning Technologies at SRI International, and directed the LeapFrog Kid Lab where he was responsible for product testing and efficacy research. Jim’s writing includes peer reviewed articles such as “Putting education in “educational” apps: Lessons from the science of learning”, book chapters in Designing for Virtual Communities in the Service of Learning and Mobile Technology for Children: Designing for Interaction and Learning, and blogs on topics like digital play

Mitchel Resnick (@mres), LEGO Papert Professor of Learning Research at the MIT Media Lab, develops new technologies and activities to engage people (especially children) in creative learning experiences. His Lifelong Kindergarten research group develops the Scratch programming software and online community, the world's leading coding platform for kids. His group also collaborates with the LEGO Company on the development of new educational ideas and products, including LEGO Mindstorms and LEGO WeDo robotics kits. 

is the Stanley and Debra Lefkowitz Faculty Fellow in the Department of Psychology at Temple University and is a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution.  Director of Temple University’s Infant Language Laboratory, Kathy is the recipient of the American Psychological Association’s Bronfenbrenner Award for Lifetime Contribution to Developmental Psychology in the Service of Science and Society, the American Psychological Association’s Award for Distinguished Service to Psychological Science, the American Psychological Society’s James McKeen Cattell Award for “a lifetime of outstanding contributions to applied psychological research,” and the Temple University Great Teacher Award and the University Eberman Research Award. 

At the MIT Media Lab’s Laboratory for Social Machines the Learning Team investigates how advanced digital technologies powered by AI and machine learning can enhance fundamental features of human learning as playful and social activities within complex adaptive systems. Unlike approaches that attempt to replace human teachers with technology or build stand-alone educational apps, we start with a human-centered perspective on learning and intelligence, and design smart tools to extend them as they occur in real life communities and social networks. While our approach has the potential to address any domain of knowledge, our primary focus is children’s literacy development through the Playful Words project.


Robert LeVine is Roy Edward Larsen Professor of Education and Human Development, Emeritus at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. His research concerns cultural aspects of parenthood and child development in African, Asian, Latin American, and other societies. His most recent research is on the influence of maternal schooling on reproduction and child health care in Nepal. He is examining how women's literacy positively affects their health and that of their children, as well as contributing to children's emerging literacy.

Peter Gray is Research Professor, Department of Psychology, Boston College. He joined the faculty in the Fall of 1972 and taught regularly until the Spring of 2002. He is author of Psychology, an introductory textbook now in its sixth edition, and, most recently, Free to LearnWhy Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life. His past research had to do with basic mammalian motivational mechanisms, and his present research has to do with children's play and its educative value. Professor Gray is now retired from regular teaching, but continues to conduct and publish research and give guest lectures.

John Gabrieli

John Gabrielli is the Grover Hermann Professor in Health Sciences and Technology and Cognitive Neuroscience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  He is the director of the Athinoula A. Martinos Imaging Center at the McGovern Institute. He is an Investigator at the Institute, with faculty appointments in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and the Institute for Medical Engineering & Science, where he holds the Grover Hermann Professorship. He also has appointments in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and is the director of the MIT Integrated Learning Initiative. Prior to joining MIT in 2005, he spent 14 years at Stanford University in the Department of Psychology and Neurosciences Program. He received a Ph.D. in Behavioral Neuroscience in the MIT Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and a B.A. in English from Yale University. In 2016 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


Dr. Deborah J. Leong is the Executive Director of Tools of the Mind and Professor Emerita of Psychology at Metropolitan State University of Denver, where she taught for 36 years in the Psychology Department and in the Department of Education.  Dr. Leong developed the Tools of the Mind approach with Dr. Bodrova with whom she has written numerous books, articles, and educational videos on the Vygotskian Approach to Psychology and the development of play. Dr. Leong has written several books on early childhood assessment with Drs. McAfee and Bodrova.  She has her Ph.D. from Stanford University in Psychological Studies in Education, her M.Ed. from Harvard University, and her B.A. from Stanford University.  She was a Fulbright Fellow to the University of Patagonia, Argentina.

Barbara Rogoff is UCSC Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of California-Santa Cruz. She investigates cultural aspects of children’s learning and how communities arrange for learning, finding especially sophisticated collaboration and attention among children from Indigenous communities of the Americas. She received a Distinguished Lifetime Contributions Award (Society for Research in Child Development) and the Chemers Award for Outstanding Research (UCSC).  She is a Fellow of the National Academy of Education, AAA, APS, APA, and AERA. She has held the University of California Presidential Chair and Fellowships of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Kellogg Foundation, Spencer Foundation, and the Exploratorium, and served as Editor of Human Development. Her recent books have received major awards: Learning Together (finalist for the Maccoby Award, APA); The Cultural Nature of Human Development (APA William James Book Award); and Developing Destinies: A Mayan Midwife and Town (Maccoby Award, APA). Recent volumes include Learning by Observing and Pitching In to Family and Community Endeavors and Children Learn by Observing and Contributing to Family and Community Endeavors. See

Catherine Snow

Catherine Snow is Patricia Albjerg Graham Professor of Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her research focuses on how oral language skills are acquired and how they relate to literacy outcomes. Snow has chaired two national panels: the National Academy of Sciences committee that prepared the report "Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children," and the Rand Reading Study Group that prepared "Reading for Understanding: Toward an R&D Program in Reading Comprehension." Her research activities include a longitudinal study of language and literacy skills among low-income children who have been followed for 15 years since age three; following the language development of young children participating in the Early Head Start intervention; and several more.

David Perkins is Carl H. Pforzheimer, Jr. Professor of Teaching and Learning, Emeritus, Learning and Teaching Program, Technology, Innovation, and Education Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He is a founding member of Harvard Project Zero, a basic research project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education investigating human symbolic capacities and their development. For many years, he served as co-director, and is now senior co-director and a member of the steering committee. Perkins conducts research on creativity in the arts and sciences, informal reasoning, problem solving, understanding, individual and organizational learning, and the teaching of thinking skills. He has participated in curriculum projects addressing thinking, understanding, and learning in Colombia, Israel, Venezuela, South Africa, Sweden, Holland, Australia, and the United States. He is actively involved in school change.