TechNuns, DOLS, and Erasing Kittens

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It’s not often we get to tell a story that makes a seamless leap from charting the successes of a Roman Catholic nun to being introduced to a member of a group called ‘The Dirty Old Ladies of Software’. But this a podcast about edtech and that leap tells its own story about the interesting places our search has taken us to find fascinating women who are playing an important role in shaping edtech’s future.

In episode 2 we hear from an edtech innovator bringing children into their design process to shape future classroom tools, whilst at the same time instilling in them an innovators mindset. We meet the team that won MIT’s Women and Tech Solve Challenge. We’re introduced to an educator who is using hackdays to help children develop emotional intelligence. And we find out what the Dirty Old Ladies of Software are all about.

This episode starts with the story of Sister Mary Kenneth Keller, one of the first women to get a doctorate in Computer Science in the 1960s and a rarely mentioned developer that worked on the BASIC programming language that came pre-installed with most microcomputers in the 1970’s and 80’s.

Sister Mary Kenneth Keller

We meet one of the Dirty Old Lady of Software (or D.O.L.S. as they also call themselves) Mickey Revenaugh, co-founder and Director of New School Models for Pearson, who also helped launch the E-Rate Program which helped schools and libraries in the United States obtain affordable Internet access.

Bethany Koby then gives us a tour around the London home of Technology Will Save Us who create learning experiences such as make-it-yourself kits and digital tools that help kids to make, play, code and invent. Bethany tells us about her Future Inventors Club.

We hear from Shwetal Shah, Head of Partnerships and Outreach for Erase All Kittens — the first game designed from the ground-up to inspire girls to code, and teach them practical coding languages via story-driven gameplay. The game recently won the MIT Solve challenge in the areas of ‘Women and Tech’. Shwetal talks about the game and her vision of schools of the future.

And finally we’re introduced to Rafranz Davis who is Executive Director of Professional and Digital Learning at Lufkin Independence School District in Ennis, Texas. Rafranz oversees the training and development of the staff members through the lens of digital learning. She is also the 2017 winner of the International Society for Technology in Education’s Outstanding Leadership Award. Inspired by hackdays, Rafranz is introducing competitive hacking into the classrooms of Texas.


The story of Sister Mary Kenneth Keller

Mickey Revenaugh

Bethany Koby

Rafranz Davies

Shwetal Shah

Dee Saigal CEO Erase All Kittens

Anjali Ramachandran

Quotes from the episode

“I’m actually a member of something called the Dirty Old Ladies of Software that’s been around since the mid 80s and all the women who are involved with tech companies from way back. We have shirts. The acronym is dollars D.O.L.S.” — Mickey Revenaugh Pearson

“Technology will enable different ways of learning better ways of learning; more distributed ways of learning, faster ways of learning. However products in themselves will not deliver better education. It is an experience that has to be about relevant engaging content that kids care about.” — Bethany Koby Technology Will Save Us

“The memorization part of what we used to believe was important to education is no longer necessarily important education. So recognizing that and then providing students with more opportunities to answer deep questions to solve real problems and then to think about you know what where does technology fit in the scope of doing those things.” Rafranz Davis

“And our ultimate aim is to actually maybe create future innovators and makers who would probably get a spark of inspiration by playing this game and maybe they could come up with solutions for major problems that we’re facing right now. For example eliminating child poverty, global warming, pollution all of that.” Shwetal Shah Erase All Kittens

Links to references in the episode

The Dirty Old Ladies of Software

Technology Will Save Us

Rafranz Davies on experiments in physical computing classes with grades 3–5

Erase All Kittens

Future Inventors Club

The story of Adele Goldstein

More reading

More on Erase All Kittens winning the MIT Solve Challenge

Can we leapfrog? The potential of education innovations to rapidly accelerate progress

The WISE Awards have been chose. Here are the winners

Millions learning: Scaling up quality education in developing countries

Building Efficiency in Learning Technologies

Intelligence Unleashed: An argument for AI in education

A teaching and learning toolkit from the Education Endowment

The What Works Clearinghouse: Research on different programs, products, practices, and policies in education

Meet Margaret Hamilton, the badass ’60s programmer who saved the moon landing

Margaret Hamilton standing next to the navigation software that she and her MIT team produced for the Apollo Project. Image Source: Draper Laboratory

Tell us your story

We’d love to hear about innovative technology or approaches you are developing or using in education. We’d also like to hear about the women you think have not got the credit they deserve for their remarkable achievements in education or technology. . Leave your stories in the comments below.

Nevertheless is produced by Storythings and supported by Pearson Education. If you’re interested in the kind of work Pearson do read these fascinating predictions about the future of work and skills which came out of their research project with Nesta and the Oxford Martin School.

Nevertheless is a a podcast celebrating the women transforming teaching and learning through technology. Supported by Pearson. Subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, Soundcloud, TuneIn or RadioPublic.