About GradeCraft

Our Team

At GradeCraft, we combine research and development expertise with pedagogical innovation. Together, we’re passionate about the idea that gameful learning can improve education for all.

Co-founders

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Barry Fishman is an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Learning Technologies in the University of Michigan School of Information and School of Education. His research focuses on video games as model learning environments, the use of technology to support teacher learning, standards-based systemic school reform, and the role of educational leaders in fostering classroom-level reform involving technology. He is Chair of the DIAG, and an Academic Innovation Fellow in the DEI. He was a long-serving Associate Editor of The Journal of the Learning Sciences, and served as a co-author of the Obama Administration’s 2010 US National Educational Technology Plan. Barry received his AB from Brown University in English and American Literature in 1989, his MS from Indiana University in Instructional Systems Technology in 1992, and his PhD in Learning Sciences from Northwestern University in 1996.

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Caitlin Holman is the Associate Director of R&D at the University of Michigan Office of Academic Innovation. She co-founded GradeCraft with Dr. Fishman while earning her PhD at the University of Michigan School of Information. Her research includes investigating the impact of gameful learning and learning analytics interventions on student learning outcomes, motivation, and achievement. She received a BA in International Affairs from the University of Maine, and an MSI from the University of Michigan School of Information.

Development Team

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Jonathon Yu is a Developer for Gradecraft. His primary background is in web application development, but he has in general an interest in all things technology related. He received a BS in Computer Science from Eastern Michigan University.

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Sophia Zhou is a UI/UX Designer and Front-end Developer. She has a BS Degree in Architecture, AAS in Graphic Design, and is an independent artist specializing in mixed-media illustration and fine art photography. This hybrid background provides her with a unique creative perspective: Sophia believes design is problem-solving with art, and enjoys blending her skills and artist intuition with her sensibility as a designer—form follows function, and function doesn’t mean boring.

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Erik Barroso is a Software Developer for GradeCraft. He uses his knowledge of application development and design to improve student learning experiences. Currently, he works closely with the user experience design team and provides backend support for Ruby on Rails and Django applications.

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Sundeep Nagumalli manages system administration for the Office of Academic Innovation, where he takes care of existing servers and will adopt DevOps culture at Academic Innovation. With an aim to automate the complete pipeline of deployments for existing applications at Academic Innovation, Sundeep manages implementation of system tasks, containerization, shibboleth, monitoring, scripting, kubernetes, docker, OpenShift, etc. Sundeep has an MS in Information Systems.

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James Ostrander is a Developer for Gradecraft. He has a broad range of experience across many technology stacks, having developed web applications, integrations, infrastructure, and research tools. In his free time he drinks coffee, beer, and other human beverages.

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Kyle Dove is a Developer for Gradecraft. He primarily creates Python web applications utilizing the Django framework, but has had a great experience utilizing Ruby for the Gradecraft project. He earned a BS in Applied Mathematics from Saginaw Valley State University.

Research, Design, and Support team

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Rachel Niemer is Director of Strategic Initiatives in the Office of Digital Education and Innovation. Her work focuses on supporting faculty use of pedagogical best practices as they explore and innovate with new tools and technologies. Rachel received a BA in Chemistry and Women’s Studies from Bowdoin College and a PhD in Chemistry from Caltech.

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Evan Straub works with faculty, staff and students to research best practices, design and support gameful pedagogy. She has a BS in Psychology (where she studied brains), an MA in Instructional Technology, and a PhD in Educational Psychology, where she liked to study the intersection of motivation, emotions, and learning technologies. She was once a Unicorn on one of the oldest MUDS still running on the internet.

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Ben Plummer is a doctoral student at the University of Michigan School of Education and Psychology and is also part of the Learning Education and Design Lab (LED). He believes that great video games are extremely engaging due to the way they offer players a lot of choices and feedback and is interested in whether the motivational benefits of video games can be applied in the classroom. Specifically, if classrooms can be made more motivating for students by restructuring them around the motivational aspects of video games (e.g. offer more assignment choice).

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Michael Skib collaborates with faculty and design teams in the design and development of online courses and learning experiences, in both online and residential environments. Michael draws on his media experience to envision creative approaches for content delivery. Additionally, he assists the software team with quality assurance and testing. Michael’s background includes previous work primarily in music and audio production.

Magical Interns

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Xuenan Xu is a UX/UI Design student fellow. She‘s currently a Master Degree student of University of Michigan, majoring in UX Design and Research. Before that, she had a BS Degree in Management Information Science. She’s also an amateur photographer who uses lens to capture sparkling moments of her life. Her 5+ years of photography experience made her a good explorer and observer, who strives to uncover and anticipate users needs in her user-centered design. She hopes to solve complex problems by concise designs.

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Yun Hsiao is a UX Design Fellow, currently pursuing her Master of UX Research & Design at the University of Michigan. With a research-relevant background, she believes in adopting human-centered design approaches to empathize with user needs and to support their experiences. She is excited about tackling complex issues and providing possible solutions to help people. Additionally, she is very interested in graphic design and is trying to cultivate herself as a full-stack designer.

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Shameek Ray is a Junior at the University of Michigan studying Computer Science and Entrepreneurship. He’s using Ruby on Rails to build new features for GradeCraft. Shameek has a passion for utilizing technology to create exceptional experiences for users, and believes in the importance of a user-centric, iterative product development process. He is actively involved in the Ann Arbor coffee-shop scene, and writes on his Medium blog about tech, product management, and life.

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Shaelyn Albrecht is a Software Quality Assurance Analyst. She’s currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Information with a focus in User Experience Design at the University of Michigan School of Information. As a national champion baton twirler, her performance background shapes her keen attention to detail, her determination to ensure proper functionality, and her passion for creating the best possible experiences!

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Tayloir Thompson is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree at the University of Michigan School of Information specializing in User-centered Agile Development. In undergrad, Tayloir earned a BS in Computer Science from Spelman College, where she developed a passion for technology working on a research team that studied how technology can be utilized to promote social change. She hopes to pursue a career that consists of enhancing products that make an impact!

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Huyen Phan is a Product Designer and Front-end Developer. She is currently pursing her master’s degree at the University of Michigan School of Information in Human-Computer Interaction. She is excited about combining empathy-based research and data analytics to create informed digital experiences that transverse multiple disciplines and mediums. Prior to getting into product design, she received her BA from Brown University in Economics and East Asian Studies.

Past Heroes

Camille Ulrich
Operations Extraordinaire

Marie Hooper
UI/UX Designer

Jamie Wright
Software Developer

Jonathan Gabel
Software Developer

Michael Zazaian
Software Developer

Steve Schwartz
Software Developer

Kris Steinhoff
Software Developer

Prabode Weebadde
Infrastructure Developer

Shehkar Patil
Infrastructure Developer


Research

The GradeCraft team engages in research focused on the design and use of gameful learning. Our work supports the creation of knowledge and tools that improve GradeCraft, improve our ability to support gameful pedagogy, and contribute to the larger community working towards educational improvement.

Awards & Press

Awards

2016 Campus Technology Innovator (Teaching & Learning)

2015 IMS Connected Learning App Challenge (1st Place)

2014 EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative Horizon Report Video Competition

Press