Months and months of work came down to a mere ten minutes in one of the most beautiful museums in the country.  Daniel Rees and Jonathan Lesser had just a few minutes to convince the panel of judges at the California Academy of Sciences that their proposal was worthy of winning Mozilla’s Digital Media Learning Competition.  Mozilla, along with partners like the MacArthur Foundation and HASTAC  (the Humanities, Arts, Sciences, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory), developed the competition as a way to build their Badges for Lifelong Learning initiative.  The project arose from the realization that in the information age, learning often happens outside the classroom and continues after formal education is finished, making traditional transcripts an incomplete picture of an individual’s capabilities.

Rees first found out about the competition from Professor Liz Gerber and Jonathan Lesser, both of whom knew that this would be a great opportunity for DFA.  To enter, they had to write a 1,000 word proposal outlining what kind of learning content or activities would be supported by the proposed badges.  Additionally, they had to figure out the logistics of who would administer the badges and how they will validate certain skill sets.  They developed a proposal for an online platform that would allow students from DFA studios across the country to share their work with one another.  It would be, in Rees’ words, a “sea of stories” that would give DFA members insight into what their peers are creating.  The best work, as determined by design professionals, would be given badges indicating proficiency in a certain skill or step in the design process.

The strength of the proposal propelled them to the final round of judging, which took place February 27-March 1 in San Francisco.  There they presented their pitch to a panel of judges, many of whom were major figures in the technological community.  A few days later they found out that their proposal was selected as one of the winners, making the hard work they put in with the support of Professor Gerber pay off in the end.  From here, they have until April 1, 2013 to get the proposed site up and running with the badge program integrated into it.  It will be exciting to watch the development of this new online platform and to begin using it to connect DFA studios all across America!


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