PLAYBACK: Born This Way Launches, Badges for Lifelong Learning Winners Announced
3.2.12 | Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation brings together academics, youth and others to combat bullying; Badges for Lifelong Learning Competition announces 30 winners; and two new studies by Berkman Center and Pew highlight how youth search for and evaluate information online and the complex impact of their networked worlds.
Born This Way Kicks Off at Harvard: Lady Gaga and her mother, Cynthia Germanotta, officially launched the Born This Way Foundation this week at Harvard University. They were joined by Oprah Winfrey, spiritual leader Deepak Chopra, and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
“The goal of the Born This Way Foundation is to challenge meanness and cruelty by inspiring young people to create a support system in their respective communities,” the 25-year-old singer said. “This is about changing ... the school environment, and not putting the power in the hands of the teachers or the government.”
“What is exciting to me,” Winfrey said, “is that thought leaders have gathered together as one force to ask why does bullying and violence and hatred against young people continue in our society and what we can do about it.”
The Born This Way Foundation has partnered with the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the California Endowment, and Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard to support programs and initiatives that empower youth and use digital media to create change. Caroline Preston has more on the involvement of the foundations at The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
In addition to working with foundations, Lady Gaga and her mother have created a web of support, writes danah boyd, who will be a research fellow on the project: “They’ve pulled in youth, researchers, and practitioners to advise them. They’ve asked the public to engage with them, to help make this a grassroots initiative. They want all who are willing and able to help to join in and contribute. In short, they want to change the rules of philanthropy in order to create a movement.”
John Palfrey, faculty co-director of the Berkman Center, and boyd have pulled together academic research that will be of use to the foundation and the public. View the working papers at the Berkman Center, which also compiled responses to the Born This Way launch.
Writing at Huffington Post, Connie Yowell, director of education grantmaking at the MacArthur Foundation, explains how the goals of the Born This Way Foundation align with MacArthur’s own:
Building a just and peaceful world begins with braver and kinder individuals, and reimagining the learning experience is tied closely to our mission.
We also share a commitment to exploring new ways of reaching the world’s youth. By encouraging learning and understanding through digital media, youth are better able to navigate the dark side of cyber attacks and bullying. Collaboration with organizations like YOUmedia—leaders in youth-powered 21st century learning—promote the kind of digital, educational creativity and collaboration that allow these efforts to grow.
Lady Gaga’s fans represent a potentially powerful force for social good, if inspired and engaged. A virtual army 19 million strong on Twitter and 48 million strong on Facebook, Lady Gaga’s supporters are primed and excited, and through her new Foundation, they can get the help they need to make a real-world difference for themselves and their communities.
Next up for the foundation is a nationwide “Born Brave” bus tour that aims to teach teens about getting involved in civic groups and connecting them with mentors. A group of 16- and 17-year-old teens working out of the YOUmedia space at Chicago’s Harold Washington Library Center helped to design the bus and traveled to Boston to take part in the launch. The Chicago Tribune has a good story by Steve Johnson about the teens’ efforts:
Among the teens’ ideas for the bus: outside graphics, possibly saying “Born Brave,” the letters made up of thousand of pictures of Gaga fans; indoor areas for recording music or poetry; and buttons awarded for achievements in self-expression and peer assistance.
Also considered: an aquarium theme, rooftop solar panels and a performance stage that would accompany the vehicle.
“I don’t think anyone would want to go on a boring bus,” said Rozenberg, an ebullient Jones College Prep student from Wicker Park.
Inside the bus, like at YOUmedia, there’ll be areas for “hanging out, messing around and geeking out,” Mike Hawkins, the students’ mentor on the project, said, adding that a key YOUmedia philosophy is to give kids space to share ideas and discover a passion.
Badges for Lifelong Learning Winners: In other celebratory news this week, the Badges for Lifelong Learning Competition winners were announced Thursday at the 2012 Digital Media and Learning Conference. The badges competition is part of the fourth annual Digital Media and Learning Competition, held in collaboration with Mozilla and administered by HASTAC.
Thirty winners, selected from a pool of 91 finalists, received grants ranging from $25,000 to $175,000. The Competition links designers, entrepreneurs, technologists and educators with business and industry organizations to build digital badge systems and explore ways to use badges for learning and to demonstrate skills and knowledge. Applicants were invited to propose badge systems for teachers in addition to students, and to help veterans translate their military skills into civilian jobs or to receive higher education credits.
Mozilla is currently developing an open-source platform for learners to collect and display their badge credentials. Heather Chaplin has more on the platform, called the Open Badge Infrastructure.
“We believe digital badges have the power to unlock the full educational potential of the Web,” said Mark Surman, executive director of Mozilla, said in a statement. “Our goal is to provide a free and open infrastructure that today’s award winners—and any organization or learning community in the world—can use to easily issue and share badges across the Web. This will empower learners to take charge of their online identity and reputation, gathering badges from any site on the Internet and combining them into a single story about what they know and what they have achieved.”
Weekend Reading: We leave you with two new studies that may be of interest. The Berkman Center has released what it terms a substantial new report from the Youth and Media project: “Youth and Digital Media: From Credibility to Information Quality” by Urs Gasser, Sandra Cortesi, Momin Malik, & Ashley Lee. From the abstract:
Building upon a process- and context-oriented information quality framework, this paper seeks to map and explore what we know about the ways in which young users of age 18 and under search for information online, how they evaluate information, and how their related practices of content creation, levels of new literacies, general digital media usage, and social patterns affect these activities.
A review of selected literature at the intersection of digital media, youth, and information quality— primarily works from library and information science, sociology, education, and selected ethnographic studies—reveals patterns in youth’s information-seeking behavior, but also highlights the importance of contextual and demographic factors both for search and evaluation. Looking at the phenomenon from an information-learning and educational perspective, the literature shows that youth develop competencies for personal goals that sometimes do not transfer to school, and are sometimes not appropriate for school. Thus far, educational initiatives to educate youth about search, evaluation, or creation have depended greatly on the local circumstances for their success or failure.
Meanwhile, the Pew Internet & American Life Project has released a new report on the hyperconnected lives of young people, based on a non-random, opt-in, online survey of 1,021 technology experts.
According to the survey overview, teens and young adults who have been brought up from childhood constantly connected to each other and with endless amounts of information at their fingertips “will be nimble, quick-acting multitaskers who will do well in key respects.” And yet the impact of living in an always-on world “will drive them to thirst for instant gratification, settle for quick choices, and lack patience.”
You can download the full report here.
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