Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Join the Conversation!

Public commenting on the 2010 HASTAC/MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competition is now open!  Join the conversation.  Log in to provide feedback and comments on applications.
  • Register to add your comments by creating a user name and password (please note the user name and password you created to submit an application will not work; all users must create new logins).  You will receive an activation e-mail, with a link to confirm your address, and can then log in to the system.
  • Take a look at as many of the brief 50-word project descriptions as you can.  If something looks interesting, you can either read more (a 300-word description) or save it and come back later for a closer look.  
  • Once you’ve taken a look, we encourage you to discuss (post a comment) or tell a friend.
  • Browse around the site.  You can search for projects by tag words that interest you, like robots or climate change, or look at the tag cloud for other clues.  You can see which projects are generating the most comments or see which ones were commented on most recently.  
  • Navigate, explore and share your thoughts.  Do you think the idea is a good one? Do you have any suggestions on how to make it better? Interested in collaborating?  The applicants will have a chance to incorporate your input during the resubmission period.
  • All of the projects have distinct URLs, so you can tweet, blog and share applications and solicit feedback.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Tonight Is the Night! Preliminary applications due by 11:59pm EST on January 22nd

As the deadline for preliminary applications draws ever closer, we wanted to take this opportunity to encourage you to submit your application today. The application system is open and will remain so until 11:59pm EST tonight--Friday, January 22nd.

However, please don't wait until the last minute and risk any potential snafus that could jeopardize your eligibility!

Here at HASTAC, we will make every effort to address any and all questions and/or technical difficulties even today--the deadline. Unfortunately, given the heavy traffic, we can in no way guarantee that last day queries or technical difficulties can be resolved in time to meet the deadline.

Don't risk it! If you have your application ready to go, go ahead and submit it here.

Best of luck!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Just over 3 days to go! Preliminary applications due by 11:59pm EST on January 22nd

As the deadline for preliminary applications draws closer, we wanted to take this opportunity to encourage folks to submit their applications as soon as possible. The application system is open and will remain so until 11:59pm EST on January 22nd.

However, please don't wait until the last minute and risk any potential snafus that could jeopardize your eligibility!

Here at HASTAC, we will make every effort to address any and all questions and/or technical difficulties even on the day of the deadline. Unfortunately, given the heavy traffic, we can in no way guarantee that last day queries or technical difficulties can be resolved in time to meet the deadline.

Don't risk it! If you have your application ready to go, go ahead and submit it here:

Best of luck!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Women Aloud Videoblogging for Empowerment

How do we create meaning with technology?

Leba Rubinoff of Mobile Movement, one of our 2008 Digital Media & Learning winners, asked that question in a blog post months ago, which struck me as one of the fundamental questions for the 21st century. We have the technology, we know the potential, we are flooded in a sea of information. How, then, can technology be used to create meaning?

Leba wrote, "I am always thinking about how to create intimacy and meaning with technology. It's hard to do. Really hard. Can we move people through technology? Can we inspire young people in Kenya and the US and make connections between people who have never met? Can we promote global citizenry one-to-one? And can we share those stories so others want to join the movement? I think we can."

I thought about Leba's questions during my conversation with Sapna Shahani and Angana Jhaveri of Women Aloud Videoblogging for Empowerment (WAVE), Digital Media & Learning winners from 2009. Both women are in India at the moment, so we used Skype to communicate, losing our connection five times during the one and a half hours we spoke. They were calling from a rural part of India, but despite the technological interruptions, it felt as though we were sitting in the same room. Their passion for the project was so palpable and their stories so vivid that it was easy to experience that familiar tug of participation, wanting to travel to India and see their project in action.

A few months ago, Sapna and Angana gathered 50 women from 28 states (and Delhi) for training, to show them how to use video and social media tools to capture the stories of the people and areas where they live. "Every state in India has a different language, and each region is so culturally different," Sapna told me. According to India's Constitution, there are 22 recognized languages, although the Indian Census estimates hundreds more different dialects and roughly 2,000 spoken languages.

When I asked Sapna and Angana what it was like to gather everyone together for the training, they both commented on the moment when each of the 50 women went around the room introducing themselves, saying their names and where they came from. "Some parts of India are completely foreign, so to get everyone together at once, it was the first time all of us met someone from each part of the country. We all felt how amazing it was to be together."

Each of the 50 women have returned to their homes to begin documenting stories, using their recently acquired video and editing skills. Eventually, the videos will become videoblogs on a new Women Aloud Videoblogging for Empowerment site, something we plan to announce on when the stories are up and ready to share.

I asked if the women would reconvene for a reunion at some point, perhaps when the site launched. Sapna's response says much about the women involved and what they can, and will, accomplish. "We did not budget for a second gathering, but the women decided that they will raise funds themselves and find a way to make it happen." As our world becomes more technological and connected, that kind of intention really stands out.

When we began to wrap up our call, Angana asked a question that others may be able to help answer. What is the best way to prepare for the launch of a website? When we spend so much time preparing for an exciting moment, often one that involves real people in real life, how do we translate a kind of stage moment to a networked, distributed environment? Analytics are fun to track, but what else can be done to make an online event meaningful? If you were working on Sapna and Angana's project, what would you do?

Friday, January 15, 2010

The application system for the 2010 HASTAC/MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competition is now open

The online application system for the 2010 HASTAC/MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competition is now open. To apply, visit You have until January 22, 2010 to submit your preliminary application.

To make sure that your application process runs smoothly, please keep the following in mind:

Your application will be made visible to the public for commenting on January 22. At that time, the application system will stop accepting new applications and be open for comment.

Prior to submitting your application, you will be given an opportunity to review it. However, once you hit "FINISH" on the application, you will NOT be allowed to revise or edit your application until the resubmission period opens on February 3rd.

The resubmission period of February 3rd-15th is to allow applicants to revise and strengthen their applications by tweaking, editing, broadening, etc., the initial application to incorporate any useful feedback or ideas offered by the public. The structure of the application form will not change.

It is not necessary for you to revise your application based on the feedback you receive, however, all applications MUST be resubmitted (even those that have not been edited or changed in any way) between February 3rd and 15th.

Please remember that you may only be the primary applicant on ONE application, although you may be listed as a collaborator on other applications. Applicants may be disqualified if they are discovered to have submitted multiple applications by using different email addresses or by using other (real or fictitious) identities to apply.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to email While we can't give you feedback or advice on your application, we are happy to answer any specific questions.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Four P's

I've been exploring the wide world of LittleBIGPlanet user communities today. (And it is a very BIG world!) I came across this great forum post on "Creating Your Level: The Four P's." Planning, Preparation, Playtesting, and Publicity - it's good advice, and should be helpful for anyone developing content for the Game Changer awards in this year's competition.

Webcast: What Kids Learn When They Create with Digital Media

Courtesy of the MacArthur Foundation YouTube channel . . . 

This forum, entitled "The Power of Youth Voice," brought together experts in digital media and learning to share their research and experiences using digital media in and outside of the classroom. ...


Monday, January 11, 2010

Do you play Spore or Little Big Planet? Friend me!

My Spore thingThanks to the MacArthur Foundation's collaboration with EA and Sony for the Digital Media and Learning Competition, I have been learning more about the games Little Big Planet (on PlayStation3) and Spore: Galactic Adventures (on Macintosh/Windows).

I haven't had as much time as I'd like to play them (of course) but I have been dipping my toe in the water. In Spore I have graduated from the primordial ooze on up to "creature stage," and in LBP I have been exploring The Savannah and unlocked the tools to make my own "level" in the game.

Ruby GBeing the social network junkie that I am, one of the features I tend to check out first are the profiles and friends. But sadly, I don't have any friends on either network! If you play one of these games, would you friend me up? I'm using my standard handle rubyji in both My Spore and the the PlayStation network. I'm especially looking for people who are using these games for social or educational benefit.

Also, what are your favorite sources of information about these games and communities of game players? I ask for myself, but also because I am reaching out to LBP and Spore players to let them know they can submit content they make (or plan to make) in these games for awards of up to $50,000 in the Digital Media and Learning Competition! Please pass on the web site to people who might be interested, and/or tell me where to follow up. Thanks!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Better mental health through video gaming

McGill research team sees possibility of training brain to react differently


JANUARY 6, 2010

**Reblogged from The Ottawa Citizen,**

Video games already provide entertainment and diversion, but they may soon boost self-esteem and improve mental health.

Based on knowledge that many of our reactions to life's stresses happen in a split-second and often without our awareness, Mark Baldwin's team at McGill University in Montreal started wondering whether they could program people's brains to react differently.

"All we did was say, 'OK, can we train it?' And once you ask the question, you kind of think, 'Why not?' " the psychology professor says. "You can train anything else. You can train a golf swing, you can train arithmetic skills through practice and drills, so why shouldn't you be able to train some of these automatic thoughts about social experiences, about self and others, about relationships?"

They thought of how people who play a lot of Tetris start to think and even dream about bricks falling from the sky, he says, and video games seemed an ideal medium to retrain people's "mental habits" because they're engaging and motivational.

One could argue that meditation is based on this same notion of retraining thought processes, he says, but efforts backed by psychological science have only appeared in the last five years and the challenge is identifying which thought processes to practise.

He doesn't think it's possible to use a video game to convince people of something high-level like the belief they're a good person, he says, but you can practise basic reactions like paying attention to positive feedback and ignoring criticism.

They've already developed some simple games available at, Baldwin says, including one in which players find the smiling face amid a sea of frowning faces and another where a smiling face appears each time a player clicks on a word related to them, such as their name or year of birth.

"It's just like Pavlov's dog. This boosts self-esteem, makes people feel a little less aggressive in response to insults," Baldwin says. "It's a long way from being a therapy of any kind; these things are games and little laboratory tasks. But someday I think there's going to be some use for this as a part of some kind of psychological intervention."

In the future, the notion of "games" providing entertainment and "applications" doing something useful will converge, he says, pointing out that Nintendo's Brain Age and Wii Fit have already kicked off that trend.

"In terms of where the future goes, that's what makes me hopeful that the application idea is growing and the line between them will get blurred and you'll see more of these positive efforts being integrated with entertainment-type games," Baldwin says.

- - -

About this series: The World Future Society, a Washington, D.C., think-tank founded in 1967, tracks future trends in technology, politics and society. This week, Canwest News Service highlights five of the organization's most fascinating forecasts for 2010 and beyond.

© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Lessons Learned from 10 former Digital Media and Learning Competition award winners

Today, over at, former Digital Media and Learning Competition Young Innovator award winner Daniel Poynter (Digital Democracy Contest) posted a selection of interviews that he taped with various 2008 Digital Media and Learning Competition award winners at last year's winner's event. Check them out to learn what lessons former Digital Media and Learning Competition winners wish they had known before embarking on their journeys (and some things that you might want to consider when developing your applications).

Reblogged from "Lessons Learned from 10 DML Winners"

The Digital Media and Learning Competition is all about learning. How do digital environments change learning? What do "innovators" in this field learn from their experiments?

At the DML ceremony in Chicago April 17, 2009 the Digital Democracy Contest and GNIC team asked 2008 winners, "What do you wish you would have known last year in order to be more effective?" Videos of their responses are below:

Howard Rheingold - create realistic goals and budgets. Find great programmers.
Hugo Berkeley - keep an open mind, react to realities, and hold on to what's best about your idea.
Jessica Fraser - network with other grantees.
Amira Fouad - let your users guide your project.
Steve Anderson - it's very important and valuable to connect with other grantees.
Jon Santiago - think about your "theory of change" and think of how to track those changes.
Adriana Pentz - starting a project from scratch within a year is very difficult. Good projects take time. Also, grantees will be more successful by being candid about challenges in their work with other grantees, MacArthur and HASTAC.
Rik Panganiban - remember those two or three success stories (not just statistics) which show your project's impact. Catching those stories on video is even better!
Michael Blockstein - Spend a lot of time planning. Set up a clear pathway and strategy. Build relationships.
Edwin Bender - interact with your users early. Find out what's important to them.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Competition timeline extended by a week--application system to open January 15

Happy New Year!

Here at Digital Media and Learning Competition headquarters, we are increasingly excited as the opening of the online application system draws closer. We can't wait to see the ideas that you have percolating and the many innovative ways you are reimagining learning!

To give you some additional time to shine up those initial applications and get them ready for prime-time, we are happy to announce that we have extended the Competition timeline by one week. This means that  the online application system will now open and begin accepting applications on January 15th.  The due date for preliminary applications has been extended until January 22nd, while resubmitted final first round applications (taking into consideration any public feedback/comments received)  will be due no later than February 15th.

Please check out the revised timeline here: and feel free to email us with any questions.