Overall Insights and Reflections on the ED Games Expo 2023

Jasminka Criley, MD

Jasminka Criley, MD

Co-Founder and CEO, Indelible Learning

“Learning without reflection is a waste. Reflection without learning is dangerous.”

This year, the 9th annual ED Games Expo was held from September 19th through September 22, 2023, at the Kennedy Center REACH.

The short-lived whirlwind experience of amazing ED Games Expo 2023 is unfortunately, behind us.

I feel honored that my team at Indelible Learning and I personally, have had this wonderful opportunity to participate for the past 3 years alongside other game-changing technological and educational innovators and great people.

Thanks to the awards we received from the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of General Medical Sciences and Department of Education Institute for Education Sciences, we were able to assemble an outstanding team and create games that tackle important problems for U.S. youth: improving sleep, handwashing technique, healthier habits, disease prevention, and civic engagement. End of Imperial demonstrated the consequences of poor sleep hygiene. Bubble Beats engaged learners in proper handwashing technique. Election Lab Online increased understanding of our Electoral College and the role swing states play in U.S. presidential elections.

As a physician internist, who has been working in hospital medicine for over the past 25 years, I became convinced more than ever that the preservation of health is much easier than the cure of the disease. And the earlier we start, the easier it is and the bigger impact we can make. That is only one of the reasons why I, along with my husband and our children, have dedicated more than 15 years to this quest of creating innovative and impactful programs for children, youth, and young adults.

Indelible Learning’s educational innovations were showcased at the expo, in the company of other outstanding teams demonstrating their latest technologies in STEM, social studies, special education, health, early learning, and many more. 

We learned from attendees. We learned from other teams. We learned from invited speakers. We learned and we reflected as both are necessary for progress and making the difference. We shared what we knew and learned from each other.

Our overall experience was deeply meaningful and impactful.

While it is hard to capture everything (there is just so much to capture), here are few things that come to mind to memorialize and reflect upon.

Welcome Reception

On September 19, the Institute for Educational Science team organized a welcome event that made us feel, well, welcomed. The kickoff was truly that: A kick off with cranked up energy, cranked up tunes, many great speakers, leaders, and innovators attending, making everyone’s evening simply great.

We connected with number of other colleagues and developers, and we were also able to hear several U.S. Department of Education presenters.

We heard many wonderful insights. While it is impossible to capture them all, here are only few excerpts that come to mind:

Christi Barnhart, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs at the Entertainment Software Association, on importance of video games for life and learning:

“Video games are new form of entertainment.” 

“There are emotional mental benefits of playing video games.” 

“Studies showed that playing video game as little as 2 hours per week can help students/players improve attention and reading.” 

“Games help to facilitate or supplement education in the classrooms.”

“Girls who play more video games are more likely to pursue STEM careers.” 


Monica Gray Logothetis, Senior Advisor for Innovation, U.S. Department of Education noted:

“Learning games and new educational technologies help us re-imagine education.”

“We need to put money where our mouth is: education.” 

“Help us rethink education and supercharge our educational innovation.” 

“We have this one opportunity, and we will seize it.”

Mark Schneider, Director, Institute of Education Sciences acknowledged SBIR program as jewel in the crown: 

“Our most important investment we can make.”

“Congratulation for running small businesses!” (Even if it is hard).

Small business and technological and educational innovations are essential for U.S. Department of Education.

He astutely noticed that:

“What you are trying to do is change facts on the ground. For most academics this is secondary. Mission of everyone here is to change facts on the ground. That is big.” 

Scaling up is fundamental for everyone in this group.

It is hard.

It is full of obstacles.

But it is also fun.

He ended with thanking all innovators and participants:

“Thanks for things you do. 

For learning you generate 

For changing facts on the ground.” 

Ed Metz, U.S. Department of Education SBIR Program manager and the main force of nature behind this event, reflected on how it all started 10 years ago when government shut down. Will that happen again? 

Mark DeLoura and Ed came up with the idea to start an event like this. Ed received moral support and encouragement. With lots of hard work and clear vision, ED Games Expo eventually became a reality.

This even would not have been possible without Ed and his planning, organizing, and supporting team including Erin Higgins, Laurie Hobbs, Alice Kinney, Clara, Liz Newbury and many more.

For the rest of the evening I was drawn into conversations with some fascinating people. What followed at the event was several more presentations and creative performances like those that demonstrate how you can learn math through music, (by Muzology and Adara Music) and of course, a performance by Cleo and Theo from the Between the Lions program.

At the end of the evening, ED Games Expo 2023 had officially begun.

ED Games Expo Event – September 20th – 22nd 2023

The following 3 days included an array of offerings, from tabletop demonstrations to educational presentations of educational technology innovations created through more than 50 programs at the U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, and other agencies across the federal government.

Notable events (but there were many, many more) included:

ED Games Expo for Schools: a free event for schools to learn about and experience the latest EdTech innovations.

ED Games Expo for the Public: a free event for public to learn about and experience the latest EdTech innovations.

IES Innovation Day: a day of workshops and panel discussions on the latest research in EdTech.

Showcase Events:

  • Showcase: Innovations in Civic Education at the Library of Congress
  • Early Learning & Technology
  • Scaling Evidence-based EdTech in Postsecondary Education
  • Special Education & Technology
  • Cyberlearning and Gaming
  • Mental Health in Rural and Underserved Schools
  • EdTech AI Workshop
  • Citizen Science Education


EdTech innovations that were at display included:

  • Immersive learning experiences: These experiences use virtual reality, augmented reality, or other immersive technologies to transport students to different worlds and help them learn in new and engaging ways.
  • Adaptive learning software: These programs artificial intelligence to tailor the learning experience to the individual student’s needs.
  • Personalized learning tools: These tools help teachers to create personalized learning plans for each student.
  • Game-based learning platforms: These platforms use games to engage students in active learning on a variety of subjects.
  • Assistive technologies: These technologies help students with disabilities to access and participate in the curriculum.

In addition, EdTech developers and researcher were given an opportunity to attend   Expo Office Hours which allowed developers and researchers to interact with representatives from a variety of government programs and one-on-one meetings with EdTech experts.

Overall, ED Games Expo 2023 was an outstanding event.

It reinforced the importance of federal investment in EdTech innovations to:

  • Improve student learning and outcomes: Research has shown that EdTech can lead to improved student outcomes in a variety of subjects, including math, science, and reading.
  • Support teacher professional development: EdTech can help teachers to learn new skills and stay up to date on the latest teaching and learning strategies and improve their teaching.
  • Promote educational equity: EdTech can help to level the playing field for students from all backgrounds, regardless of their zip code or family income.
  • Prepare students for the future: The world is changing rapidly, and students need to be prepared for the jobs of the future. EdTech can help students to develop the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century workplace, such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity.


ED Games Expo 2023 demonstrated that EdTech innovation are making a difference in the lives of students and their teachers.

We learned and reflected because learning without reflection is a waste and reflection without learning is dangerous.

Why is learning without reflection dangerous? More on that in another article.

Going forward, we need to continue building capacity to support continued research, development, and dissemination of impactful EdTech innovations.

We are honored to have been, again, part of this wonderful event. We are grateful that we were able to invest our time and energy into building something that significantly contributes contribute to Ed Tech innovations and to future of education. We are thrilled that we are one powerful voice and creators of innovative approaches, for students to reach their full potential.

Why does it all matter?

Because: students are our future

And, great education alone is the single best thing we can do for all of our students.

As the world changes so do needs for betterment of future education.

Jasminka Vukanovic-Criley MD, FACP, FHM is an awards-winning physician hospitalist, educator, advocate and entrepreneur. She can be reached on Twitter @criley_md or LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/in/jasminka-criley-md