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Karen Cole

Current Position

January 2007-present

Founder and executive director of Big Learning, Inc., an education nonprofit.

Develop and implement a variety of hands-on educational programs for children and families, including after-school classes, family workshops, parenting classes, and community events. Write and publish a family education newsletter and website. Offer consulting services for hands-on education projects in and out of school. Advocate for educational equity.

Prior Experience


Independent educational psychology consultant, family education specialist, and education writer and speaker. Offered educational consulting and evaluation services, developed and taught parenting and family workshops, presented at education conferences, developed a family learning website and newsletter, and wrote education books and articles.


Senior Research Associate, WestEd, San Francisco , CA

Project director and principal investigator for WestEd's subcontract for the Challenge 2000 Multimedia Project, funded by the Department of Education. Managed projects in materials development, teacher professional development, research, and evaluation. Products included:

•  Increasing Student Learning through Multimedia Projects (book). Managed the project, co-authored, and assisted in finding a publisher .

•  Project-Based Learning with Multimedia ( CD-ROM for teachers) . Produced, researched, filmed, and co-wrote content.

•  Multimedia, a Sneak Preview (video for students) . Produced, co-wrote, and co-edited a video for students embarking on a multimedia project.

•  Teacher professional development materials: Researched and wrote a booklet for teachers, Assessment for Multimedia Projects: An Idea Book. Developed and taught a two-year long monthly series for teacher-leaders.

•  Research: Collected and analyzed data and wrote or co-wrote and published professional papers on the results.


Research Scientist, Institute for Research on Learning, Menlo Park , California .

Project director and principal investigator for IRL's subcontract for the Challenge 2000 Multimedia Project. Assessment Coordinator for the Middle School Mathematics through Applications Project (MMAP) an applications-based mathematics curriculum project funded by the National Science Foundation. Co-developer of the CD-ROM, A Video Exploration of Classroom Assessment. Consultant for schools on curriculum and assessment reform.


Research Assistant, Stanford University , Stanford , CA .

Developed curriculum units, co-designed software, and researched outcomes for the MMAP mathematics curriculum.


Instructional Designer, Computer Curriculum Corporation, Sunnyvale , CA .

Researched, designed, implemented, and tested educational courseware. Consulted on projects as an expert in instructional design for educational software.


Course Developer, Hewlett Packard, Palo Alto CA .

Researched, designed and implemented technical training materials.

Award-winning products and projects

Middle School Math through Applications Project (MMAP) Curriculum

U.S. Department of Education 2000 Promising Technology Program

U.S. Department of Education 1999 Promising Mathematics Program

1994 Computerworld Smithsonian Award.

A Video Exploration of Classroom Assessment

1999 National Educational Media Network's Silver Apple Award of Excellence

The Challenge 2000 Multimedia Project

U.S. Department of Education 2000 Exemplary Technology Project (one of only two designees)


Ph.D., 1995, Stanford University , Psychological Studies in Education

Dissertation: Structuring Academic Engagement in Classrooms

B.S., 1982, Duke University , Computer Science and Economics

Professional Organizations

Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD)

Washington Independent Writers Association



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