Nicole Dreiske

ExO Speakers Exclusive
Award-Winning Author of The Upside of Digital Devices
Executive Director of International Children’s Media Center
Founder/Artistic Director of Facets Multi-Media, Inc.
Creator of Screen Smart® Accelerative Learning
MTP: Innovate exponential learning
Inquire About Nicole

When Nicole Dreiske takes the stage and begins to speak, you can hear a pin drop. An expert on children and their relationship with screens, her energy, and passion coupled with her forty years of experience makes her one of the most effective presenters in the vanguard of digital culture and education.

Nicole has an  innovative approach for integrating technology and media into twenty-first-century homes and classrooms in new ways that empower children and accelerate learning. Her acclaimed Screen SmartTM program uses neuroscience-based techniques to improve literacy skills, critical thinking, and social-emotional learning.

* Click “read more” to find out how are speakers are going digital and their thoughts around Covid-19. *

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A leader in the development of screen-based programs for enriching education, she is the Executive Director of the International Children’s Media Center, and founded the first and largest international children’s film festival in the U.S. As director of the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival for 26 years, Nicole was the first festival director world-wide to get the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize a children’s event as an “academy qualifying” festival.  Winners of a children’s film festival in the short film category can now compete for the Oscars®.

From 1975-1993 Nicole conducted an intensive eighteen-year interdisciplinary study, titled “Matrix and Multiplicity” focusing on accelerative learning processes and techniques for peak performance. She has presented seminars developed from this research at hundreds of venues, including businesses, universities and convention centers around the world.

Over the past twenty-five years and working with five thousand children each year, Nicole has conducted workshops and seminars focusing on media, digital wellness, and education. Since 1997, her landmark methodologies and pedagogies for early childhood have been presented at NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children, Opening Minds, the Chicago Board of Education, Literacy for All, the American Academy of Pediatrics, Illinois Public Health and Safety, the Partnership for Media Education, NCEA (National Catholic Education Association), the Huffington Post Parent Conference, the World Summit on Media for Children and numerous other conferences.

Her book, THE UPSIDE OF DIGITAL DEVICES: How to Make Your Child More Screen Smart, Literate and Emotionally Intelligent won the National Parenting Center’s Seal of Approval. The book is based on Nicole’s decades-long research in the field as well as her work with children in schools and communities around the world. She is the author of Mindful ViewingTM – Digital Viewing Resource Guide and Movies Make You SmarterTM both published by the ICMC.



  1. How comfortable do you feel speaking in virtual events? What do you enjoy about it and what are the challenges?

After completing four virtual conferences and working remotely with jails, schools, and corporations for months, I love speaking in virtual events.

Because Screen Smart® and Mindful Viewing® talks are multi-sensory, and engage participants physically, they spark high engagement on every platform. No need to rely on Zoom backgrounds or graphics to hold attendees’ interest!  More importantly, the content is topical and timely.  I’m sharing information and strategies that act as a powerful antidote to the current “digital overload”.

Challenges are usually minor, technical and vary from platform to platform. For example, video glitches and delays are more frequent on some platforms, so I accommodate that by being prepared to quickly summarize content or send written support.  Likewise, when we’re hosting Screen Smart on some platforms, we can’t see our participants, so a second attendee has to signal me each time an attendee (or a child) wants to be called on.


  1. How has the pandemic affected your work? Has this pandemic caused you to update your content significantly and approach?

Because my work focuses on using healthy tech habits to accelerate learning, it’s even more relevant and necessary now. Screen Smart and Mindful Viewing are some of the only evidence-based education initiatives in existence that can help adults and children during the distance learning crisis.

The pandemic tripled the demand for our work, so I doubled the paid hours of my team and brought on new staff to jumpstart the conversion of our services to online formats. ICMC staff and I analyzed every part of each program, and architected their conversion to electronic formats.

Outside of conferences and corporate talks, parent and teacher workshops were the easiest to convert to online delivery.  Many parent workshops became “self-organizing” because adults knew they needed help and reached out to their friends to join workshops. We’ve also launched our festivals virtually and work in 30+ classrooms every week.

ICMC’s interdisciplinary, neuroscience-based approach to screen use is one of the few real solutions for ameliorating the downsides of continuous digital engagement in this unique cultural moment.


  1. What do you think will be the positives and negatives of your work post-COVID-19?

One outstanding “positive” is that all my talks and the ICMC programs can now be delivered digitally or on-site.

Regarding “negatives” we’re staying in advance of the curve. For example, I just spent two months developing Fast FOCUS!  These are high-yield sensory techniques to bring kids back on track behaviorally and accelerate learning.

This means we already have training in place to help teachers and school districts with the massive behavioral fall-out they’ll be facing when kids return to school. Think about it — four months of homeschooling, followed by three months of “summer vacation.

Screen Smart and Fast FOCUS! can re-boot literacy and empathy, while instantly boosting students’ abilities to focus and self-regulate. The next step: larger-scale teacher training programs to meet increased demand.


Read Less


Screen Smart
Hack the Achievement Gap and Accelerate Learning for All

Nicole shares practical and proven approaches that go beyond “screen turnoff” to help 21st century learners engage technology in ways that strengthen our humanity and enhance brain function. She’ll contextualize her approach with data on cutting edge approaches to education and demonstrate techniques to build self-awareness during tech use, while improving cognitive and emotional skills.

Humanize Tech
How Healthy Tech Habits Boost Human Development and Build a Growth Mindset

Nicole shows how to engage technology from a unique interdisciplinary and sensory perspective, integrating the perspectives of sociologists, educators and scientists into a comprehensive methodology that promotes the competencies and human characteristics vital for 21 st century success. In talks tailored to each audience, she shows how to “cohabit” the tech space with elevated humanity and self-awareness by creating new behavioral and learning conduits between human and electronic technology to foster resilience, creativity and a growth mindset.

Screen Smart
Healthy Tech Habits to Accelerate Learning and Close the Achievement Gap

Nicole shares a neuroscience-based strategy for healthy tech habits that accelerates learning with self-regulation and focus exercises. She deconstructs these sensory tools and demonstrates how they inculcate leadership skills, resilience and a growth mindset in learners of all ages. Integrating digital story-telling into the learning ecosystem, Nicole shows how close analysis can be leveraged to boost literacy, empathy and visual literacy skills.

Instant RECESS

Nicole unpacks a unique pedagogy that quells classroom chaos and galvanizes learning in 30-60 seconds while teaching self-regulation, grit and persistence. She demonstrates neuroscience-based, interdisciplinary exercises that boost student focus with lively micromovements and articulation exercises that exercise fine and gross motor skills. Nicole then shares how “rapid scaffolding” builds cognitive ability and closes with problem-solving and practical applications for the classroom.

Digital Parenting

Nicole shares 21st century strategies from her Screen Smart® playbook for thriving in the digital world. She charts the family ecosystem for healthy tech habits and provides “tech self help” tools for parents and children together. Her “notice, then focus” strategy shows how to strengthen comprehension, empathy, resilience and higher order thinking by cultivating awareness and personal agency at the nexus of human and electronic technology.


“I found Nicole’s presentation on ScreenSmart® Strategies: How healthy tech habits accelerate learning! at the Chicago ELE event to be educational, energizing and inspirational.  So often we think of the negative consequences around screen usage with our children.  Nicole demonstrated, citing academic theory and industry best practice, how focused strategy around screen usage can foster self-monitoring of content and promote learning-to-learn skills that will help to prepare our future workforce.”

- Jill Mack, Vice President, Sr. Program Manager - Professional Education, Enterprise Learning & Development

“When Nicole told her personal story of becoming an education advocate for children discussion, it resonated with me personally and I found her account fascinating and poignant.  I also came away with an understanding of how important conversations are in “unpacking” feelings, perspectives and experiences with screen-based content.   She unfolded her process and made it easy to see how she brilliantly and creatively made the science of learning happen.   Her introduction of “SEC” really resonated with me as well.   Introducing the social, emotional and cognitive framework into the learning can only intensify intellectual engagement and learning motivation.   Her delivery helped us to see how this can be effective in a “whole person” learning modality.  It is just brilliant and the way learning should also happen for adults.”

- Newton Moore, UL University

“The Screen Smart workshop is a fantastic resource, giving us something fresh, futuristic and engaging to do with screens. The hand exercises are pure fun — they help children channel their energy and spark their imaginations.  The screening was also a high point because it showed how we can get children to focus and use literacy skills in new ways that they’ll enjoy.”

- Kristin Kramer, President, IL PTA

“Nicole Dreiske is the world’s leading expert on how kids can and should interact with media and screens so that they bring their higher order thinking to bear.  For every adult who’s wondered how to talk with young children about digital devices, this is the book that will change the parenting paradigm around screens.”

- Salim Ismail, Chair of ExO Works, Best-Selling Author of Exponential Organizations, and Former Vice President of Yahoo!
ExO Speakers Exclusive
Award-Winning Author of The Upside of Digital Devices
Executive Director of International Children’s Media Center
Founder/Artistic Director of Facets Multi-Media, Inc.
Creator of Screen Smart® Accelerative Learning
MTP: Innovate exponential learning
Inquire About Nicole
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