Friday, August 20, 2010

Ann H. McCormick, Ph.D.
13800 Skyline Blvd.
Woodside, Ca 94062
Fôn 650.851.2836
Fax 650.529.1984

President, CEO  Learning Friends 1995- Present 
Chairman, Founder  Media 3, Tenth Planet, Half Moon Bay, CA, 1992-1995
Director,  Nueva Media, Nueva School, Half Moon Bay, CA, 1988-1992
Vice President of Education  VPL Research, Inc., Redwood City, CA, 1985-88
Founder, Chairman  ALT, The Learning Company, Portola Valley, CA, 1979-
Teaching and Research
Ann McCormick began her career as an elementary school teacher in urban poverty area schools, after spending six years as a Sister of St. Joseph.  Determined to help solve the problems of inequity in education, she earned a doctorate in education at the University of California at Berkeley, focusing on child thought and language.  The university published her doctoral thesis on Black dialect, reading and teaching style, which is widely cited as a landmark ethnographic study--still referenced on the Web and used as a university text after 30 years.
Ann worked at the American Institutes for Research and RMC Research Corporation for five years, developing systems for evaluating teacher training and educational products, and creating models for transferring effective reading and math programs from one poverty area school to others.  She also consulted at SRI International, Educational Testing Service, and other firms.  Ann gave invited lectures in educational technology, engineering design, creativity in business, and entrepreneurship at Stanford University, Harvard University, the University of California (4 campuses) and other universities.  She gave keynote addresses at computer conferences for teachers and developed and taught courses for teachers at Dominican College and the University of San Francisco.  She was appointed to the California Education and Technology Board by the Superintendent of Public Instruction and was recently invited back to UC to give the keynote address for the 100th Anniversary Commencement at the School of Education.
The Learning Company
In 1979, Ann founded a children’s educational software company with a grant of a computer and $1,000 from the Apple Education Foundation.  She designed reading software under the grant and set up a technology learning program at Stanford University’s Bing Nursery School in 1980. Ann appeared on a prize-winning PBS special, Don't Bother Me I'm Learning.   She won a Program  and Design Excellence Award from Apple Computer, a Parent’s Choice  and a Learning Magazine Best Software of the Year Award  for her first software title, Juggle's Rainbow.  She conceived a new way of designing learning software unlike any that existed before, but this was only a first step toward realizing her dream of making powerful, playful learning available for all children.  
In 1982, Ann won a grant from the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Education and with her team, created prototypes for the widely acclaimed software titles, Gertrude's Secrets, Gertrude's Puzzles and Rocky's Boots.  These titles established a new category of software for children. Visitors from six continents visited the start-up company.
In 1983, Ann raised venture capital, and the company changed its name to The Learning Company (TLC). Five thousand letters arrived in one month when the company released its first products, and sales reached $1M the first year.  When Rocky’s Boots made the cover of InfoWorld, Ann helped negotiate with IBM for a license to TLC’s entire product line. Toy companies and publishers visited from New York and Japan, Ann appeared in Fortune, Business Week, and Forbes.  She shaped every product to assure that each delivered powerful learning, ease of use, high play value, worthwhile values and aesthetic beauty.
In 1984, Ann helped TLC raise second round financing and continued shaping the design of software titles, including Robot Odyssey and Reader Rabbit. Each product was rigorously tested for effectiveness with at least 300 children, and revised until it met TLC standards.  All sixteen TLC products won national awards and National Education Association approval.  Many were best sellers, leading the industry in sales.  Some “early Learning Company” products are regarded as the best software ever produced, and are still on the market and available on the internet, 15 years after they were introduced on the market. TLC doubled its sales each year, and jointly marketed products under the logos of IBM, Apple Computer, Atari, Simon and Schuster, American Express and Addison-Wesley.  
A Harvard business school case about TLC featured Ann as a woman entrepreneur.  She was invited to Stanford business school each year when the TLC case was presented, and students dubbed her the “nun-for-profit.” Through all this, she was working toward transforming education, and the industry was creating tools to make reaching millions of children with powerful learning materials ever more possible.
Recognized as a pioneer in the educational software industry, Ann gave invited presentations for toy companies, publishers, telecommunication and computer companies, trade shows and museums.  She appeared on television shows such as Donahue and spoke on radio programs, wrote textbook chapters and articles for Byte and Compute.  She addressed thousands of teachers each year and gave presentations for government and industry leaders, including Members of Parliament in London, the Aspen Institute in Berlin and the Special Office of the President in the US. In 1985 Ann left the company under duress along with the entire development staff. The Learning Company went public in 1992, was purchased in 1995 for $660,000,000, and after merging with another company, purchased Broderbund, MECC and others and was sold to Mattel for $3.8 billion.
VPL Research
Within a week of leaving TLC, Ann joined Jaron Lanier at VPL Research, Inc. the first virtual reality company.  Serving as Vice President of Education, Ann arranged strategic alliances for developing and marketing VR products, such as the DataGlove  and the graphics program, Swivel 3D.  
She helped raise venture capital for VPL and landed an IBM contract for developing a visual programming language that was a precursor to virtual reality.  She consulted with Apple Computer, Pacific Bell, AT&T, and other government and industry groups about schools of the future.  She served on the Board of Model Technology Schools in Cupertino and consulted to Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow while at VPL.  She also consulted on designing math worlds for a project funded by the State of California.
Nueva Media
In 1988, Ann joined the Nueva School in Hillsborough, CA, a school for gifted and talented children and a research center for helping transform education.  She invited industry leaders to be partners in “building the future now.” Apple Fellow, Bill Atkinson, head of Macintosh design and author of HyperCard, made Nueva his laboratory school, and many industry leaders sent their children to Nueva.  Ann attracted donations from 35 high-technology companies and worked with teachers and staff so Nueva could become a model technology school.  At Nueva, Ann carried out projects on multimedia and mythology, 3D graphics and virtual reality, mentors by modem, library automation and telecommunications, all in preparation for creating next-generation software that would provide a comprehensive learning resource. Nueva received ATT’s award for best internet project in the US for elementary schools when children studying the ‘40s interviewed Seniors about the holocaust.  Ann’s students presented their virtual reality projects at a scientific conference at SRI International and at the WELL’s Cyberthon.
In 1990, Ann won a grant from The Walter S. Johnson Foundation and assembled a design group to create multimedia mathematics software based on the teaching of Mary Laycock, California Mathematics Teacher of the Year and Nueva’s Math Specialist.  Ann consulted with Alan Kay and the Advanced Technology Group at Apple Computer, Inc., which helped support this project.  She gave invited addresses for the Congress of the Latin Americas  in Brazil, answering questions on 2-way TV for people throughout Central and South America and Europe.  She was invited to address professional and school audiences by the government of Finland, economic leaders from Japan, China and Singapore, and educational and business leaders from 15 nations.
Tenth Planet Explorations
In 1991-2, Ann won another grant from the National Science Foundation, for developing software using dynamic modeling of mathematical processes for young children, and with Karen Stone-McCown, Founder of Nueva, incorporated a new company which became Tenth Planet.
With an award-winning team, Ann led design of Half Moon Bay Farm,  a math simulation with bubbles, bee hives and pattern blocks.  This multimedia design integrated powerful tools in an environment with characters, stories and games, with an assessment engine tracking progress.  The software was designed to work with thematic projects off screen, along with books and toys.  The combination of software and off screen materials would help children become expert learners, pursuing topics that are meaningful to them, making connections in their thinking, and building a solid base of skills and concepts for the next century.  The software would bridge between home and school, and help assure that all children learn the basics they need to succeed as learners.  
The Farm prototype interested the Disney company and others in forming an alliance, but Ann decided to accept venture capital financing so her team could build a culture of excellence in educational design before acquisition.  
Ann also won and managed an SBIR contract from the United States Department of Education, using technology for helping urban illiterate teens learn how read. She recruited an expert team and created The Hood, a hard-edged city simulation with an African American theme.  The Hood  offered a fresh design with video clips of movies and rap music, a fast new method of text entry, and an unusually direct and systematic method for teaching reading.
Greylock and Mohr Davidow both offered to take the lead in funding the venture, but required that the company hire a CEO who had successfully run a billion dollar business in educational technology.  Within a few months of closing the $3M venture deal, the new CEO set a new purpose for the company, gave the company a new name, and parted ways with Ann, Karen and the Nueva School. The company was later sold to Sunburst.
Learning Friends
Within a month of parting ways, Ann, Karen and Nueva founded a new company, now called Learning Friends.  Ann formed an alliance with CAPS Productions, Inc. and for a year, served as Executive Vice President and General Manager of a multimedia development studio at CAPS.  Learning Friends developed young children’s reading software featuring an assessment engine for tracking progress and refreshing game content based on children’s performance. Ann helped raise $7.5 million in investment for CAPS from Viacom (Simon and Schuster), NEC, Singapore EDB and others.  Simon and Schuster displayed Mira Studio’s first product at E3 under a banner for a new category of children’s software called “Real Learning.”  
Ann worked with UCLA curriculum specialist, Dr. Amie Watson, on a study of technology and learning needs and usage in nations throughout the world.  She presented the results at the State of the World Forum in 1996.  Ann also co-authored a chapter for an instructional design textbook about Emotional Intelligence for Children with her partner, Karen McCown. She continued the project of documenting research and best practice, and designing a concise content architecture for children aged 4 to 14 learning mathematics, science, reading,  social studies and the arts.  She collected age-appropriate books and other materials to illustrate capabilities and interests of children of each age level for developers, and compiled concise summaries of developmental issues by developmental level.  
After eight years of preparation, Ann worked with Mary Laycock, nationally recognized Nueva Mathematics specialist, on designing a series of 2400 learning activities, for delivery by cable modem to millions of children.  The mathematics activities will appear in a context that inspires initiative and fascinates children, along with tutoring guides,  stories, games and project kits.  Ann is currently seeking funding to develop this intellectual property for web delivery, along with comprehensive language arts, science and social studies.
Ann now consults to several promising web-based education companies.  These may be explored at (a children’s simulation building platform, led by Larry Tesler, former Chief Scientist of Apple).  Ann also consults and serves as an advisory board member to (Good HouseKeeping’s “Best Internet Site for Parents;” which won an NSF grant for developing an enhanced browser for custom searching of education and health information on the web), At Gravity, Ann consulted and served as an Advisor where she applied design principles for learning to 3D Castle Creator, a children’s construction and exploration title  developed for IBM and Crayola.  This product won Best Creativity Title of the Year at E3.  Ann recently completed a project with the Computer History Museum at NASA Ames Research Center, raising foundation funds.
Ann managed a project for Advance Transformer, a Fortune 500 company, producing high-impact education and sales materials, designed to shift a $500M market toward using more energy efficient and pleasant lighting products. Ann recruited a team and lead design of CD-ROM and web software for electrical engineers and  builders of hospitals, schools, stores, offices and public buildings. Managing 26 people in 14 cities (in 4 countries), Ann and her virtual team created a playful interface with powerful tools underneath-- a game linked to a tutorial, in turn calling case studies; a smart catalog with controls from 16 companies, automatic entry of related product parts, a humorous financial estimator with smart spreadsheets driving dynamic cartoons, references to on-line resources, with updating on the Internet. Ann participated in the launch of the National Dimming Initiative,  featured at the San Francisco Light Fair in 1999.
Ann currently consults on three projects: for VIPTone, Inc., designing an enterprise portal r for schools; and for a Soros Foundation project, Tech Access, she is seeking ways of promoting equity in access to computer learning resources; and for SRI International, creating a career-long home for online teacher collaboration and professional development..  
Ann is completing a business plan and presentation for Learning Friends, which will soon become the leading broadband learning resource for children aged 4 to 14, with worlds to explore, characters to enjoy, tools for building and games to play, all guided by an assessment engine that assures that every child can reach mastery of “expanded basic skills.”
Ann has participated in every stage of research and software development, from literature review and research design, data gathering and analysis to writing and publishing results. Ann has directed concept design, story board writing, audio design, video production, manual writing, programming and graphics development, interface design and product testing for play and learning value.  She has planned quality assurance, made budgetary decisions, managed contracts with consultants and hardware companies, written budgets, timelines and proposals for government agencies and foundations.  She has managed web development with an international virtual team of experts.  She has created successful products for children as young as 3 years old, and for electrical engineers with graduate degrees.
On the marketing and sales side, Ann spearheaded launch a new category of software, shaping the children’s software industry.  She formed strategic alliances with market leaders in several industries, gave hundreds of interviews and public addresses, and influenced industry leaders in publishing, telecommunications, hardware and software. She worked with the marketing and sales departments of several successful ventures, conducting market analyses and deciding company strategy.
Ann has worked the floor at trade shows, made sales presentations that lead to multi-million dollar purchases in the consumer market, given interviews to industry analysts, futurists and the press, positioned her companies’ products at museums and universities, talked for thousands of teachers and set a quality standard unequaled in the industry.  Ann is skilled in print and media PR campaigns, and has experience in every aspect of marketing and sales from product marketing and competitive analysis at the concept stage to full scale consumer and education campaigns with all-time best sellers.  
In the area of finance and administration, Ann has served on Boards of Directors of software companies for seventeen years, while acting as an officer with team responsibility and a CEO with bottom line responsibility.  She has proven an excellent fund raiser in both the profit and non-profit sector, raising over $15M with her management teams.  Ann has created budgets and managed cash flow, created plans and carried them out, attracted world-class creative talent and supported their best work.  She has taken several companies from the concept stage to a market leadership position.  Ann set the stage for creation of a $3.8 billion company, the second largest consumer software company in history after Microsoft (after all mergers).  Ann has consistently worked toward realizing the dream of helping transform education for all children.  Ann is recognized internationally as a pioneer and leader in educational technology.
Articles and Books
Articles about Ann’s work have appeared in Scientific American, Fortune, Business Week, Forbes, The Times (London), Electronic Learning, Psychology Today and other publications.  Books describing her life and work include: Women, Technology and Power; Silicon Valley Fever; The Six-Figure Woman; Mind over Machine; and High Tech, Window to the Future.
Professional Honors and Awards
Women Entrepreneurship Honoree
Resource Center for Women
Certificate of Recognition for Innovative  Leadership 
in  Reshaping  the Small Business Landscape
California Legislative Assembly
Government/Education Forum
Pacific Bell
Best Software of the Year
Parent's Choice Award
Best Software of the Year
Learning Magazine
Program and Design Excellence Award
Apple Computer, Inc.
Spirit of Achievement Award
Junior Achievement
“Self-Science, Emotional Intelligence for Children,” Reigeluth, Charles M., Instructional-Design 
   Theories and Models, A New Paradigm of Instructional Theory, Volume II. Mahway, NJ, 
   Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1999.
Learning from Game Play and a Wonderful School:  A Quest for Authentic Learning,” 
   Computer Game Developers Association Magazine, 1996. Stanford Univ. Web Site.
“A Playful Business,” On Learning, Vol. 1, No. 2, Winter, 1993.
“Silicon Chips and Play Dough,” in Beginnings and Beyond:  Foundations in Early Childhood   s
   Education. Albany, New York: Delmar Publishers, Inc. 1985.
“What Makes Superior Educational Software,” Compute, June, 1985.
“Game Sets and Builders,” Byte, June, 1984.
“A Computer in the Nursery School," Dale Peterson (Ed.), Intelligent  Schoolhouse:  Readings on Computers and Learning.  Reston, 1983.
“Preparing Children for the Computer Age,”  Future Computing, March, 1983.
“Critical Reading: An Impeccable QWERTY,” Journal of Courseware Review, 1982.
“Young Children Use Computer Graphics,” Harvard Computer Graphics Week, Harvard 
   University Graduate School of Design, 1982.
Young Children Learn Logic and Geometry Using Microcomputers, National Science 
   Foundation Final Report, ERIC, 1982. 
Black Dialect and Reading in First Grade, University of California, Language Behavior 
   Research Laboratory, 1977.
Grants, Contracts and Venture Capital
SRI International
$7,000 for preparation of a strategic plan for a teacher online community
$33,750 for interface design for an enterprise portal for schools and preparing a plan for an editorial process for selecting free sites for teachers, parents and students.
Advance Transformer Company
$500,000 for Web and CD-ROM Lighting Design Guide, 1998-9
Viacom; Weis, Peck and Greer; Singapore Economic Development Board, NEC
$7,500,000 investment for CAPS Software, Inc., 1995
Greylock , Mohr Davidow, Stanford University
$3,050,000 investment for Media 3, learning software company, 1994
National Science Foundation
$50,000 SBIR contract for mathematics multimedia software, 1993
The US Department of Education, Small Business Innovative Research Program
$30,000 contract for developing a reading program for urban illiterate youth, 1991
$200,000 contract for Phase II, technology for teaching reading to urban youth, 1992
Walter S. Johnson Foundation
$180,000 grant for developing mathematics teacher training materials, 1989-92
Apple Computer, Inc. and 35 software companies
$200,000 for creating a Macintosh laboratory at Nueva Center for Learning, 1988
$10,000 Macintosh computers and consulting support for software development
New Enterprise Associates, Lead Investors
$3,200,000 venture capital for The Learning Company, 1984
Melchor Venture Management
$300,000 venture capital for Advanced Learning Technology, 1982
National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Education
$130,000 grant for developing children's educational software at ALT, 1982
Apple  Education Foundation
$1,000, Apple II computer, software development, 1979
Key Presentations
United States Government
Advisor on Information Technology to the President of the United States, Washington, DC
Executive Office of the President of the United States, Washington, DC
Department of Education, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Education, Washington, DC
Office of Naval Research, Washington, DC
National Science Foundation, Washington DC
National Information Infrastructure Conference, Mountain View, CA
Foreign Countries
State of the World Forum, San Francisco, CA
Congress of the Latin Americas, International Conference and University of Sao Paolo,
   publishing companies, educators, software developers, Brazil
Head of Educational Technology, National Board of Education, University at Helsinki,   
   educators throughout Finland, Otova Publishing, Helsinki
Entrepreneur’s Forum, Aspen Institute, Berlin, Germany
Parliamentary Information Technology Committee , London, England; Prime Minister’s  
   technology and education initiative, Havant
Member, Board of Education, Chairman of Economic Development Board, Member of 
   Parliament, Members of the National Computer Board, teachers from Singapore
Members, National Board of Education and educators, People’s Republic of China
Educational Computing Conference, Ontario, Canada
Kaos Pilot University, San Francisco, CA, Danish national evaluation committee.
Visiting educator and industrialists from Japan (Fujitsu Advanced Lab, leaders from 
   Hokaido, many visiting companies, including  Chairman of Tomy Toys.  
Educators and decision leaders from six continents.
Keynote Addresses
Florida Instructional Computing Conference, Orlando, FL
Texas Computer Education Conference, Dallas, TX
Computers and Learning Disabilities Conference, San Francisco, CA
New Jersey Educational Computing Conference, NJ
Computer  and Telecommunications Industry
Apple Computer, Inc., Cupertino, CA; Los Angles, CA; Helsinki, Finland; London, England 
IBM Corporation, San Jose, CA
AT & T, Morristown, PA
Pacific Bell, San Ramon, CA
Northern Telecom, Colorado Springs, CO
Xerox PARC, Palo Alto, CA
Advanced Development Group, Hewlett-Packard, Palo Alto, CA
Harvard Computer Graphics Week, Video Games and Human Development,  Cambridge, MA
Schools of Business, Education, Engineering, Computer Science, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA
University of California, San Diego, Santa Cruz, Berkeley, CA  Guest lectures
University of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA Course for teachers using technology
Lighting Industry
National Dimming Initiative, Advance Transformer Co., 40 controls companies, Environmental Protection Agency, Chicago, IL.
Ph.D., Education, University of California at Berkeley, 1973
M.A., Education, University of California at Berkeley, 1970
B.A., Social Sciences, Seattle University, 1967, Magna Cum Laude

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Tea Party Time


From not reading to reading
One of the great joys of my life is tutoring young childen. Some of them come to me unable to read and in a few weeks, they can read small books. With ones who don't know that letters make sounds, we use Fletcher's Place, a Reading Revolution program that introduces lower case letters first with one letter sound and a hand motion. This lays such a good foundation.

Within a year, the kids are enthralled with Shakespeare plays, watching classic versions acted by some of the finest performers in the world. Subtitles help the kids move into rich vocabulary and dramatic expression gracefully. A good story is a good story, so they enjoy these plays.

Shakespeare for little kids
We prepare by reading a page from a children's version of the play, then quickly go over the vocabulary used that day in the play, sounding out syllables and guessing meanings (I write the meaning on the card in small print, and the kid enjoys "winning" by reading the meanings themselves, as if I didn't know they were there (and the kid was really smart). One problem came with a second grader watching Romeo and Juliet. She was so sad about Juliet dying, so her mom and I found photos and stories of the actress still alive to prove she didn't actually die on stage. Now I'm saving that story for older kids. The boundary between reality and fantasy comes later than the love of a good story.

This little girl had tea with me from tiny cups in a tea set I was given in Beijing. We picked peppermint leaves from the garden and made tiny pots of tea. Then she asked to have her birthday party at my house, so we tried many kinds of tea to share with her friends. My friend Matthew brought me a tea tray from China, so she learned to pour Gung Fu tea, and did this for her friends on her birthday. She cried when she couldn't come to tutoring any more, and asked to visit, have tea, visit my Bagua Garden, and play with my American Girl dolls. She was delighted to use a Franz butterfly cup for sipping Aloe Vera and honey tea from Puripan.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Ann H. McCormick lives and works in Woodside, California.  You can reach her at:

Ann began her professional life as a Sister of St. Joseph of Peace in Bellevue, Washington.  She attended the College of Sister Formation along with religious sisters from China, Hungary and Uganda.  She left the convent in 1967, in pursuit of a broader mission involving experiential education for all children.  

Ann then taught fifth grade at School #74, a Buffalo, NY public school serving all Black children.  Riots marked the summer in Buffalo before school started.  Ann visited the home of each child, and took children on excursions after school.  She enjoyed the vitality of the children, and dealt with their illiteracy by checking hundreds of books out of the library, and encouraging them to take them home.  She also provided a tape recorder children could take home, and put on a play about Colonial times, with wonderful drumming and a parade.  Keenly aware of the inequity of education for children in low-income areas like East Buffalo, she entered graduate school at the University of California at Berkeley, and specialized in the study of child thought and language, children's play and learning.  Her doctoral dissertation on Black Dialect and Reading in First Grade was published by the Language Behavior Research Laboratory in the School of Anthropology, and is still used as a textbook at great universities 35 years later.