MacArthur’s Participatory Learning Initiative Goes International

I’ve been showcasing this week some of the work we’ve been doing with the MacArthur Foundation on new media literacies. If you are feeling inspired, you might consider submitting something to the second round of the foundation’s Digital Media and Learning Competition. Here are the details which were just released this week:

MACARTHUR’S $2 MILLION DIGITAL MEDIA AND LEARNING COMPETITION FOCUSES ON PARTICIPATORY LEARNING, GOES INTERNATIONAL

Chicago, IL (August 18, 2008) – The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, in collaboration with the University of California, Irvine, Duke University and the virtual network HASTAC, announced today a second annual open-call competition that will provide $2 million in awards to innovators shaping the field of digital media and learning. The Digital Media and Learning Competition, supported through a grant to the University of California, Irvine and administered by HASTAC, has been expanded to pilot international submissions and introduce a new category focusing on young innovators aged 18-25.

“Digital media are helping to make the world smaller, spread ideas, and encourage collaboration across borders and among people who otherwise might not have an opportunity to work together,” said MacArthur President Jonathan Fanton. “To ensure support for the freshest thinking and most innovative applications of digital media to learning, we have expanded this year’s competition to include international submissions and ideas from young people, who are often the pioneers of the digital space.”

Awards will be given in two categories:

* Innovation in Participatory Learning Awards will support projects that demonstrate new modes of participatory learning, in which people take part in virtual communities, share ideas, comment on one another’s projects, and advance goals together. Successful projects will promote participatory learning in a variety of environments: through the creation of new digital tools, modification of existing ones, or use of digital media in some other novel way. Submissions will be accepted from applicants in Canada, People’s Republic of China, India, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States, countries in which HASTAC or MacArthur have significant experience. Winners will receive between $30,000 and $250,000.

* Young Innovator Awards are designed to encourage young people aged 18-25 to think boldly about “what comes next” in participatory learning and to contribute to making it happen. Winners will receive funding to do an internship with a sponsor organization to help bring their most visionary ideas from the “garage” stage to implementation. For this competition cycle, submissions will only be accepted from applicants in the United States. Winners will receive between $5,000 and $30,000.

This year’s competition will include an online forum where applicants can post their ideas, solicit feedback, offer their services, and connect with other applicants and potential collaborators. All material posted to this “Digital Media and Learning Scratchpad” is publicly accessible. Participation is voluntary and not required for application.

“Participatory learning allows people to work together online toward some collective purpose, sharing knowledge, insights, and expertise, and most important, learning together,” said Cathy N. Davidson, John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute Professor at Duke University and HASTAC co-founder.

The open competition will be administered by the Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Advanced Collaboratory (HASTAC), which was founded and is primarily operated at two university centers, the University of California Humanities Research Institute at the University of California, Irvine and the John Hope Franklin Center at Duke University. Applications will be judged by an expert panel of scholars, educators, entrepreneurs, journalists, and other digital media specialists.

“With the digital media and learning initiative, the MacArthur Foundation is playing a leading role in reshaping both institutional and informal learning practices,” said David Theo Goldberg, HASTAC co-founder and director of the University of California’s Humanities Research Institute. “Traditional learning practices are being supplemented and supplanted by new digital media, which both enable and extend their reach through virtual institutions like HASTAC. This is a natural partnership.”

Competition winners will join an existing community of 17 awardees from last year, including a mobile musical laboratory, a digital humanitarian assistance game derived from existing military simulation technology, and a mobile phone project hat connects young African social entepreneurs with young North American professionals. Winners also will be invited to showcase their work at a conference that will include venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, educators and new media experts seeking the best ideas about digital participatory learning.

Applications are due Oct. 15, 2008 and winners will be publicly announced in April 2009. Detailed information on the competition is available online at www.dmlcompetition.net.