Idit Harel Caperton

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Idit Harel Caperton
Idit Harel Caperton headshot.jpg
Idit Harel Caperton in 2013
Born Idit Ron
(1958-09-18) September 18, 1958 (age 56)
Tel Aviv, Israel
Residence United States
Fields Edtech
Social Entrepreneurship
Learning Sciences
Human Development
Alma mater Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Harvard University
Tel Aviv University
Known for MaMaMedia, Inc.
World Wide Workshop

Idit Harel Caperton, PhD (born September 18, 1958) is an Israeli-American entrepreneur known for her EdTech innovations. She is an award-winning author, and futurist of global learning systems.


Harel Caperton studied and published on the impact of computational new media technology on the social and academic development of children and their epistemology (knowledge development). Her MIT research, along with that of Seymour Papert, has contributed to the development of constructionist learning theory. She blogs monthly on Huffington Post Impact and Technology verticals,[1] as well as on Edutopia,[2] EdSurge,[3] Getting Smart,[4] U.S. News & World Report,[5] and Stanford Social Innovation Review.[6]

Harel Caperton was the founder and CEO of MaMaMedia Inc., the executive director of the MaMaMedia Consulting Group (MCG), and the founder, President, and Chair of the World Wide Workshop. She is presently the CEO and a founding Chair of Globaloria.[7]

Personal life[edit]

Idit Ron was born in Tel Aviv, Israel. Her parents and their families are Holocaust survivors from Poland and Czechoslovakia. She married her first husband, David Harel, in 1979 (divorced 1995); they have three children. She married her second husband, Gaston Caperton, in 2003; they divorced in 2012.[8]


Idit moved to the United States in 1982 for graduate study at the Harvard Graduate School of Education after having previously received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Philosophy from Tel-Aviv University. She earned two graduate degrees from Harvard: an EdM in Technology in Education (1984) and a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies (CAS) in Human Development (1985) from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. In 1988, she earned a Ph.D in Epistemology and Learning Research from MIT after helping to formulate a new Constructionist educational model called "Instructional Software Design Learning Paradigm".

Children Designers[edit]

In 1991, she published a book, Children Designers, which won the 1991 Outstanding Book Award from the American Education Research Association. Seymour Papert composed the book's Introduction. In her research, she introduced disadvantaged fourth-grade children from the Boston area to the Logo programming language, and facilitated their creation of mathematical software applications that would help third-grade peers learn fractions.[9] The students, who included children with different levels of mathematical prowess, worked on their own pieces of software for four to eight hours per week for fifteen weeks.

Harel Caperton observed, studied and quantified the effect of the experience on their mathematical understanding, computational fluency and overall learning behavior. Findings indicated that children who learn fractions using a combination of Logo programming and the techniques of Constructionist learning scored on average eight to eighteen percentage points higher on standardized post-test examinations than those taught using traditional techniques.[10]

Children Designers discusses ways in which Logo-based programming allows for individual variations in children's "learning, mastery, and self-expression." The book proposes an expansion of research into the nature of these differences by education scholars.[11]

These results were later expanded upon by Yasmin Kafai who found, in a similar project with inner-city fourth graders, that learning through software design resulted in statistically significant improvements in mathematical development.[12]



In 1995, Harel Caperton moved to New York City, where she founded, an Internet dot-com that offered web services focused on inculcating digital literacy and creative learning skills among children and their parents who used the web games and activities offered.[13] Basing itself on the educational principles of Constructionism, the site provided web users with a range of "playful learning" activities and projects.[14]

Development and expansion[edit]

Between 1996 and 2000, the company developed and grew in the emerging Internet and print marketplaces, publishing the first print magazine for children about the Internet, MaMaMedia: A Kid's Guide to the Net.[15] Additionally, the company formed content distribution partnerships for both its magazine and its website with companies such as Time Warner (specifically AOL and Road Runner), Microsoft's Web TV, WGBH-TV, Netscape, Intel, and Scholastic; as well as advertising business with Minute Maid, Nintendo, Disney, and General Mills. The deal with AOL was announced on December 29, 1997.[16]

World Wide Workshop[edit]

Harel Caperton is also founder and president of the World Wide Workshop, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that develops applications for learning with technology that combine game design and online social media experiences for youth to empower them to be inventors and leaders in the global knowledge economy. The foundation's programs aim to transform education by connecting youth to technology learning opportunities in schools and community centers, facilitating children's localized community engagement, and fostering the potential for economic development through game production experiences.[17]


Globaloria is a social learning system and educational program of the World Wide Workshop, in which participating students engage in a range of digital activities.[18] The program was established in 2006 to cultivate both students' and educators' 21st century skills and digital literacy, facilitating mastery of social media technology tools, and students' deeper understanding of curricular areas, such as science, mathematics and health.[19]

Social science and evaluation research on Globaloria finds that four primary spheres of engagement are occurring — inquiry, collaboration, digital content construction and knowledge-sharing—to inculcate student expertise and mastery within six key domains of digital learning (called the 6 Contemporary Learning Abilities).[20]

These learning domains have been found to inter-operate in the context of the program implementation in schools, to bring about student self-efficacy gains, motivational shifts & interest development towards a range of digital practices.[21] [22] [23][24] Further, match-case quasi-experimental research with control groups conducted by a third party evaluator in the state of West Virginia indicates that student participation in the Globaloria program is associated with higher WESTEST standardized test scores in science and social studies.[25][26][27]

Independent scholarly research in the learning sciences and information sciences continues to investigate the ways in which student and educator participation in this program influence learning and other related outcomes.[28][29]

Scholastic pursuits[edit]

Children Designers[edit]

In the 1980s and 1990s, she undertook research at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the MIT Media Lab, in which she established the 'children as software designers' method of learning.[30]

Her research studied the Constructionist vision of computer programming as a source of learning power, particularly in an inner-city-school computer culture. Her 1991 book about this research, Children Designers, presents a shift in research methodology and educational practice by casting learners in the role of instructors and knowledge communicators rather than information recipients, and in the role of media producers rather than consumers.[11]


Much of Harel Caperton's work in the 1990s focused on what she calls the development of the "Clickerati Generation" - the young people born between 1991 and 2010. She advances the notion that children born during this time will grow up immersed in new media, and unable to imagine a world without Internet technology. She contends that there is a need for a radical, global paradigm shift relating to education and acculturation of this generation in comparison to the methods used with the youth of bygone eras. In other words, where people of the past worked with print-based literature, current and future generations will click their way through technologically based mediums of digital information and communication — and will need to be prepared adequately with digital literacy skills for their successful development, citizenship, and leadership within such physical-digital blended environments.[31]

Constructionist MOOCs[edit]

In the 2000s, Harel Caperton advanced the vision of new media technology for creative learning and global citizenship that focuses on the rising generation of young people growing up immersed in new media, through the launch of the World Wide Workshop and research on its flagship program, Globaloria, which engages youth in learning and digital literacy through social media and Web 2.0 tools. The program is the only MOOC for middle and high school students.[2] Harel Caperton has criticized MOOCs for generally replicating the instructor-led learning model, and challenging ed-tech entrepreneurs and educators to use technology in the classroom to amplify active learning.[32][33]


  • 2013: Globaloria awarded Silicon Valley Education Foundation STEM Innovation Award in the Science Category[34]
  • 2013: Globaloria named Microsoft Education Laureate in The Tech Museum of Innovation Tech Awards[35]
  • 2013: Named to Disruptor Foundation Fellows[36]
  • 2011: Named “Digital Leader and Luminary” by Digital Learning Now!
  • 2010: Jessie McCanse Award for Individual Contribution to Media Literacy, by the National Telemedia Council.
  • 2005: Named Beijing Normal University Honorary Professor.
  • 2002: The Network of Educators in Science and Technology and MIT honored Caperton with their “Award for devotion, innovation, and imagination in science and technology on behalf of children and youth around the world.”
  • 1991: Outstanding Book Award for Children Designers, by the American Education Research Association (AERA).
  • 1989: Journal of Mathematical Behavior - Special Annual Issue on Outstanding Dissertation: Interdisciplinary Constructions of Learning and Knowing Mathematics in a Computer-Rich School.

Further reading[edit]

  • Harel Idit. "Globaloria: Students Making Game Media for Literacy and Learning." Journal of Media Literacy (2012)
  • Harel Caperton, Idit. "The Instructional Software Design Project for Learning Mathematics in a Computer- Rich School." Journal of Mathematical Behavior (1989)
  • Harel Caperton, Idit. "Learning about Learning." Newsweek 1989
  • Harel Caperton, Idit. "And a Child Shall Lead Them: Young Kids Show the Benefits of a New Affinity with Technology." Context Magazine January 1999
  • Harel Caperton, Idit. "Learning Skills for the New Millenium: The Three X's." 21st Century Learning 1996 October
  • Harel Caperton, Idit. "Clickerati Kids: Who are they?." 21st Century Learning 1997 March
  • Harel Caperton, Idit. "Learning New-Media Literacy." Telemedium Journal of Media Literacy (2002)
  • Harel Caperton, Idit. "“Hard Fun:” The Essence of Good Games AND Good Education." Telemedium Journal of Media Literacy (2005)


  1. ^ "Dr. Idit Harel Caperton: Huffington Post Author Page". Retrieved September 15, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Harel Caperton, Idit (October 17, 2012). "Before We Flip Classrooms, Let's Rethink What We're Flipping To". Edutopia. 
  3. ^ Harel Caperton, Idit (August 20, 2013). "What Students Learn When They Give Up Shoebox Dioramas For Video Games". Retrieved August 3, 2015. 
  4. ^ Harel Caperton, Idit (February 5, 2013). "Let's Give Girls a Chance to Succeed in STEM". 
  5. ^ Harel Caperton, Idit (March 19, 2012). "High-Quality STEM Education for All: It Take a Village". Retrieved September 9, 2013. 
  6. ^ Harel Caperton, Idit (July 25, 2013). "Taking Games for Good to a New Level". Retrieved September 9, 2013. 
  7. ^ "World Wide Workshop: Board of Directors". Retrieved August 3, 2015. 
  8. ^ "Idit Harel Caperton profile". Retrieved August 3, 2015. 
  9. ^ Harel, Idit (1990). "Children as software designers: a constructionist approach for learning mathematics". The Journal of Mathematical Behavior 9 (1): 4. 
  10. ^ Harel, Idit and Papert, Seymour (1991). "Software design as a learning environment". Constructionism. Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing Corporation. pp. 51–52. ISBN 0-89391-785-0. 
  11. ^ a b Harel, Idit (1991) [1991]. Children Designers ((pbk.) ed.). Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing Corporation. p. 389. ISBN 0-89391-788-5. 
  12. ^ Kafai, Yasmin (1995) [1995]. Minds in Play ((pbk.) ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. pp. 286–309. ISBN 0-8058-1513-9. 
  13. ^ "Company Overview of MaMaMedia Inc.". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved August 22, 2013. 
  14. ^ " helps families explore Web". The Rock River Times. July 1, 1993. Retrieved August 22, 2013. 
  15. ^ "MaMaMedia: A Kid's Guide to the Web". Retrieved August 22, 2013. 
  16. ^ "MaMaMedia Inc. joins forces with America Online to bring kinds unique 'playful-learning' web activities" (Press release). MaMaMedia, Inc. December 29, 1997. 
  17. ^ Bracey Sutton, Bonnie; Sutton, Vic (August 30, 2010). "Idit Harel Caperton – An Interview at the Edge of Change". education, technology & change. Retrieved August 3, 2015. 
  18. ^ Harel Caperton, Idit (March 19, 2012). "High-Quality STEM Education for All: It Takes a Village and global citizenship through game design.". U.S. News & World Report. 
  19. ^ Marcott, Amy (February 13, 2013). "Alumna Develops Educational Game Changer". MIT: Slice of Life. 
  20. ^ Reynolds, Rebecca; Harel Caperton, Idit (2009). "The Emergence of Six Contemporary Learning Abilities (6-CLAs) in High School Students as They Design Web-Games and Use Project-Based Social Media in Globaloria" (PDF). American Educational Research Association. Retrieved October 28, 2013. 
  21. ^ Reynolds, Rebecca; Chiu, Ming Ming (2012). "Contribution of motivational orientations to student outcomes in a discovery-based program of game design learning". International Conference of the Learning Sciences. Retrieved October 28, 2013. 
  22. ^ Reynolds, Rebecca; Chiu, Ming Ming (2013). "How sustained engagement in game design and social media use among diverse students can mitigate effects of the digital divide". American Educational Research Association. Retrieved October 28, 2013. 
  23. ^ Reynolds, Rebecca; Chiu, Ming Ming (2013). "Formal and informal context factors as contributors to student engagement in a guided discovery-based program of game design learning" (PDF). Journal of Learning, Media & Technology. Retrieved February 23, 2014. 
  24. ^ Reynolds, Rebecca; Wolf, John (2014). "Collaborative inquiry-supported game design as a context for cultivating 'Constructionist' Digital Literacy". American Educational Research Association. Retrieved October 28, 2013. 
  25. ^ Chadwick, Kristine; Gore, Jessica; Hsiang-Yeh, Ho (February 2013). "Globaloria Replication Study: An Examination of the Relationships between Globaloria Participation and Student Achievement in Year 5 of the West Virginia Pilot Implementation" (PDF). World Wide Workshop Reports. Edvantia, Inc., WV. Retrieved October 28, 2013. 
  26. ^ Chadwick, Kristine; Gore, Jessica (January 2011). "Globaloria Replication Study: Examining the Robustness of Relationships between Globaloria Participation and Student Achievement" (PDF). World Wide Workshop Reports. Edvantia, Inc., WV. Retrieved October 28, 2013. 
  27. ^ Chadwick, Kristine; Gore, Jessica (February 2010). "The Relationship of Globaloria Participation and Student Achievement" (PDF). World Wide Workshop Reports. Edvantia, Inc., WV. Retrieved October 28, 2013. 
  28. ^ Reynolds, Rebecca; Baik, Eun; Li, Xiaofeng (2013). "Collaborative information seeking in the wild: Middle-schoolers' self-initiated teamwork strategies to support game design." (PDF). Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIST). Retrieved August 3, 2015. 
  29. ^ Reynolds, Rebecca; Li, Xiaofeng; Baik, Eun (2014). "Inquiry and Resource Use Strategies that Emerge Among Middle Schoolers in a Guided Discovery-Based Program of Game Design Learning.". Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE). Retrieved August 3, 2015. 
  30. ^ Harel, Idit (Winter 2012). "Students Making Game Media for Literacy and Learning". The Journal of Media Literacy 59 (1): 3. 
  31. ^ Harel, Idit (Spring 2002). "Learning new-media literacy: a new necessity for the young clickerati generation". Telemedium 48 (1): 17–26. 
  32. ^ Harel Caperton, Idit (October 18, 2012). "Opinion: Before We Flip Classrooms, Let's Re-Think What We're Flipping To". WiredAcademic. Retrieved August 3, 2015. 
  33. ^ Glader, Paul (December 14, 2011). "Interview: Globaloria Founder Dr. Idit Harel Caperton On Video Games As The New Language Arts". WiredAcademic. Retrieved August 3, 2015. 
  34. ^ "Silicon Valley Education Foundation Names Award Winners for STEM Innovation" (PDF). World Wide Workshop. Retrieved October 9, 2013. 
  35. ^ "Techmanitarians lauded for humanitarian uses of technology around the world". The Tech Museum. Retrieved October 9, 2013. 
  36. ^ "The Disruptor Foundation Fellows". Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Awards. Retrieved August 26, 2013. 

External links[edit]