Save the Date!

August 13-14, 2018

Union South, University of Wisconsin Madison

2-Day Registration: $150

1-Day Registration: $100

Conference Agenda Overview

2018 Conference Details

We are excited to present the schedule for the 2018 Play Make Learn Conference this year's conference will include some of the favorites from last year including the arcade area and sessions on everything from making to VR as well as many more interactive sessions allowing for participants to learn through play. In addition to our demo event where participants will play new and exciting games from developers and educators, there will be opportunities to learn from students about the work they have been producing as well.


Lodging is available through a group rate at the Lowell Center or Hampton Inn.

Keynote Speakers

Emery Petchauer

Emery Petchauer is an Associate Professor in the Departments of English and Teacher Education at Michigan State University where he also coordinates the English education program. His research and practice has focused on the aesthetic qualities of urban arts, particularly hip-hop culture, and their connections to teaching, learning, and living. His books include Hip-Hop Culture in College Students' Lives (Routledge, 2012) and Schooling Hip-Hop: Expanding Hip-Hop Based Education Across the Curriculum (Teachers College Press, 2013). A former turntablist and high school teacher, Emery gets most excited about making spaces for young people to create sound and movement alongside artists in their community. He currently facilitates a community beatmaking space with other artists in Pontiac, Michigan.

Jane Werner

Jane Werner's 34 years of museum experience includes 26 years at The Children's Museum of Pittsburgh where she served as Program Director, Deputy Director and currently Executive Director. Werner leads the team responsible for all aspects of the Museum's mission and vision, exhibits, public programming, funding and operations. The Children's Museum of Pittsburgh expanded in November 2004 after the completion of a $29M capital campaign. Attendance grew from 80,000 to currently 300,000. The project was the recipient of the 2006 American Institute of Architects National Award and National Trust for Historic Preservation Award. The Museum received the 2009 National Medal from the Institute of Museum and Library Services for its work in the community and in 2011 the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh was named one of the top ten children's museums by Parents Magazine. Under Werner's leadership and in partnership with the Warhol Museum, the Children's Museum reopened the closed New Hazlett Theater, raising over $2million and creating a separate 501c3 organization. In 2013, the museum was cited by AAM Press in the book Magnetic as one of six museums with powerful internal alignment and a compelling vision allowing it to attract the critical resources for success.

Our Story

The Play Make Learn Collective stemmed from the collective interest in creating an innovative conference to promote play and learning research, industry, and practice.


Exciting new games and game systems will available for playing


Maker labs and game jams will parallel the sessions all day


Presentations and discussions around gaming, making, and personalized learning

Conference Focus


  • Game design
  • Learning Games
  • ARIS
  • Field Day
  • Gear Learning
  • Games industry
  • Games in K-12
  • Games in Higher Ed


  • Making in a school district
  • Making at a tech school
  • Making at a public library

Personalized Learning

  • Conferring in personalized learning settings
  • Current research on personalized learning practices
  • CESA 1 personalized learning model

How Play Make Learn came to be

This conference grew out of partnerships among Games + Learning + Society, Filament Games, the Learning Games Network, the Playful Learning Conference, the Wisconsin Collaborative Education Research Network and others who see a need to collaborate around making, playing, and learning in research, industry, and practice.

  • Filament Games
  • Field Day
  • Gear Learning
  • Learning in the Making
  • Personalization in Practice


Play Make Learn is proud of its many sponsors including the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, Education Outreach and Partnerships, The Network, School Of Education, and Wisconsin Center for Education Research.

Conference Organizers

Rich Halverson

Rich Halverson is a Professor in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at UW-Madison. He is a former high school teacher and administrator, and earned an MA in Philosophy and a PhD in the Learning Sciences from Northwestern University. He holds affiliate appointments in Educational Psychology and Curriculum and Instruction Departments, and is a Fellow at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery. Halverson leads Personalization in Practice, a study documenting how teachers, leaders, and students experience personalized learning in Wisconsin.

Erica Halverson

Erica Halverson is an associate professor of digital media and literacy in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her work focuses on what it means to learn in and through the arts across a range of contexts, including out-of-school arts organizations, museums, libraries, and arts-based classrooms. In 2010 she received the Jan Hawkins Award for Early Career Contributions to Humanistic Research and Scholarship in Learning Technologies for her research on how filmmaking serves as a vehicle for positive identity development and sophisticated literacy learning for young people who are disaffiliated from school. Halverson co-directs with Kimberly Sheridan the Learning in the Making research lab, where they are currently focused on what and how young people learn through making and how new technologies can be leveraged for more inspired and engaged making processes.

David Gagnon

David Gagnon is the program director of the Field Day Lab in the Wisconsin Center for Educational Research at University of Wisconsin, Madison. He directs a team of educational researchers, software engineers, artists and storytellers that explore the intersections of learning science and media design, specializing in mobile media, video games and simulation. David is also the Director of the ARIS project, a free and open tool that allows anyone to produce mobile games, stories and tours.

Mike Beall

Mike Beall is the Director of Gear Learning at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research. He is a lifelong game enthusiast with a professional history as a game designer, producer, and artist working with the Learning Games Network and Games Learning Society at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Mike has led design and development for several game titles including Progenitor X, Tenacity, Crystals of Kaydor, Oztoc, and At Play in the Cosmos. In addition to direct involvement with design and development of Gear Learning games, Mike also works with outreach organizations and community centers where he partners with University of Wisconsin-Madison faculty and students to engage with the local communities to learn through playing games, participate in playtests, and inform the design of future games through focus groups.

Dan Norton

Dan Norton is a founding partner and CCO at Filament Games. He specializes in crafting educational game design documents and storyboards that originate from learning objectives. Dan sees Filament as an opportunity to merge his life long love of games with his incessant quest to learn about new and interesting things. Filament games creates educational games meant to engage, inspire, and motivate. They have created over 100 digital learning games in the past 10 years.

Peter Wardrip

Peter Wardrip is an Assistant Professor of STEAM Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He currently co-leads the Agency by Design Pittsburgh teacher learning community with Dr. Jeff Evancho. His research focuses on informal/formal learning collaborations, professional learning for educators, formative assessment and making as a learning process. Peter earned his PhD in Learning Sciences and Policy from University of Pittsburgh and is currently a visiting researcher with the University of Pittsburgh Center for Learning in Out of School Environments (UPCLOSE) and the Learning Media Design Center at Carnegie Mellon University. Peter enjoys playing soccer, euchre and drinking hot cocoa with his family.

Jessie Nixon - Conference Director

Jessie Nixon is a doctoral student in Curriculum and Instruction and Digital Media at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research interests involve digital storytelling, multimodal composition, and digital critique practices. She taught high school English in Virginia and Alaska as well as English Composition courses at the University of Alaska Anchorage. She is currently working with Wisconsin Public Television in developing Click, a professional community of educators and students across the state who are working to improve digital storytelling and digital media production