Ari Bader-Natal
my contribution to the creative computing scene
my 2010-2012 blog on education and technology
my 2007-2010 blog on computing and commuting

For the past 10+ years, I've been designing and building social learning environments for the web, with a particular focus on fostering peer-to-peer learning communities. I enjoy sketching out new ideas on napkins, and turning the best of those sketches into working code and living systems.

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and am working at the Minerva Project, helping to shape and launch the university of the future. At Minerva, I design and develop the learning technologies that connect and support Minerva's global network of students and faculty.

Prior to Minerva, I was Chief Learning Architect at Grockit, where I led research and development projects: advanced product development, learning analytics projects, ongoing efficacy studies, academic collaborations, and peer-reviewed publications (details). I created Grockit Answers, a Q&A tool designed specifically for educational video, in order to support helpful peer-to-peer interactions around video instruction in a contextually-relevant way.
In my limited free time, I enjoy working on self-directed software side projects. Most recently, I built Studio Sketchpad as a place for creative coders to write and share interactive Processing visual programs built on top of my derivative of the magical Etherpad editor. I check in daily to find and highlight nice work in the studio gallery. Sketchpad has been used in an educational setting at several excellent art and design schools, including UCLA, NYU/Tisch, and RISD, and also in a P2PU course that I ran in 2010.
I completed my Ph.D. in Computer Science at Brandeis University in May, 2008. In my dissertation work, I examined the possibilities of motivating learning among peers by incorporating these interactions into a game. This drew on a combination of game theory, system building, and a statistical analysis of elementary school students competing in a spelling competition. My dissertation is available for download.
In order to experiment with the real-world effects of game-based peer learning activities, I built SpellBEE, a web-based game in which pairs of students play a English language spelling game. Tens of thousands of students -- and thousands of their teachers -- participated while the experiment was running. SpellBEE inspired and informed the development of the BEEweb, a larger suite of synchronous, collaborative learning activities based on the same motivational structure as SpellBEE.
Earlier in graduate school, while doing work on Evolutionary Computation, I examined methods for monitoring success and failure in coevolutionary algorithms. I developed the Coevisualizer environment for developing, experimenting with, and comparing coevolutionary algorithms on a variety of domains.
I've released an assortment of other (Mac OS X) applications in the past. Among these, Page Axe was designed to enable true data privacy for hosted web applications, and the hack found it's way into an O'Reilly book in 2007.
I have a few old photo albums online with pictures from travels and hiking trips over the past few years.