Graduate Students Win Digital Media Learning Competition

Graduate Students Win Digital Media Learning Competition

Daniel Rees Lewis

Two recent SESP graduates and one current graduate student recently won a digital media learning competition for their idea for an online badge system. Daniel Rees Lewis and Jonathan Lesser, both 2011 graduates of the Master of Arts in Learning Sciences program, and Sami Nerenberg, a student in the Master of Science in Learning and Organizational Change program, competed through Design for America at Northwestern, a student organization devoted to collaborating with community organizations to solve real-world problems.

The Digital Media and Learning Competition selected the Design for America group for its idea to create an online community designed to foster innovation and enable the widespread sharing of knowledge. Design for America calls its award-winning project “A Badge Community for Innovation.”

“By utilizing the motivational, educational and connective power of an online badge system, this online community platform will support the professional growth of young innovators and the collaboration of social change makers,” the group asserts. Through this system, undergraduate designers will be able to track their design projects, share their stories and learn from each other as they solve local problems affecting health, homelessness, the environment and education.

Badges for Lifelong Learning winners were announced at the Digital Media and Learning Conference, which links designers and educators with industry to build and explore digital badge systems for advancing people’s skills, knowledge and opportunities. The conference is held in collaboration with Mozilla and is part of a competition supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and administered by HASTAC.

Jonathan Lesser

Badges, as a simple representation of skills earned through formal or informal learning situations, are a way for students and workers to demonstrate competencies. The organizations sponsoring the badge competition advocate for the potential of digital badges to encourage learning in the 21st century.

Badge systems were judged on their overall technical and pedagogical quality, the effectiveness of the badges’ assessment process, the system’s aesthetic and design quality, and the likelihood of adoption. Winners have one year to complete their project work.

Along with Lesser and Lewis, the Design for America group also included professor Elizabeth Gerber of Northwestern University, Anya Shyrokova and Rishu Arora of University of Michigan and Steven Ma. Gerber, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering who has a courtesy appointment at SESP, is the faculty founder of Design for America, which has spread from Northwestern to create a national network studios at eight universities.

The Master of Arts in Learning Sciences program at Northwestern is a full-time, 11-month course of study that prepares researchers, developers and practitioners to advance the scientific understanding and practice of teaching and learning. The Master of Science in Learning and Organizational Change program is designed to strengthen the ability of experienced working professionals to use innovative people management and learning practices to lead strategic and sustainable organizational change.

Photos (top): Daniel Rees Lewis, (bottom) Jonathan Lesser

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 3/20/12