Note: The information provided here refers to past Digital Media and Learning Competitions, and is provided for archival and reference purposes only. If you are seeking the current Digital Media and Learning Competition, please navigate to



Please see timeline page.



All applicants must be at least 18 years of age when the application is submitted; however, personnel working on the project may include students and others under
the age of 18 as long as they are working under the supervision of the primary applicant.


Primary applicants from outside the U.S. must apply as institutions or organizations, not as individuals.

Legal U.S. residents whose principal place of residence is in the U.S. are eligible to apply as individuals.

Collaboration is strongly encouraged (though not required). International collaborations are particularly welcome, provided that the primary applicant meets eligibility requirements.

Additional Eligibility Requirements

Only English-language applications will be accepted.

Primary applicants are not eligible to submit more than one application (though they may act as primary applicant on one application and as a collaborator on another application). Applicants discovered to have submitted multiple applications by using different email addresses or by simply changing collaborators for primary applicants on various applications may be disqualified.

Previous Digital Media and Learning Competition winners are not eligible to apply as principal investigators. Previously funded Digital Media and Learning Competition projects are not eligible for funding again. Principal investigators on MacArthur-funded digital media and learning projects and/or institutions that have received support under the Foundation's Digital Media and Learning portfolio are not eligible for the Competition. However, universities that are grantees in the Digital Media and Learning portfolio will be considered eligible if the primary applicant is not currently involved as a principal investigator in a MacArthur-funded digital media and learning project. Other MacArthur Foundation grantees are welcome to apply.

For all awards, the term is one year beginning between July 1, 2010 and December 1, 2010. Awardees are required to set aside funds for a winners' event to be held in 2011. Participation at the event is a requirement of the award.

Applicants should allow ample time to prepare and submit all required materials through the application system, and should register on and review the application system and requirements very early in the process. While HASTAC staff members are prepared to assist applicants with questions and technical problems, it is the responsibility of the applicant to start early so as to have sufficient time to address any questions that may arise. HASTAC will make every effort to address applicant questions or technical difficulties even on the day of the deadline but in no way can guarantee that last day queries or technical difficulties can be resolved in time to meet the deadline.

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Video Guidelines

Videos submitted for the Digital Media and Learning Competition must comply with the Terms and Conditions regarding the use of intellectual property and privacy applicable to the competition and must not contain any pornographic, illicit, illegal or otherwise inappropriate content, as determined by the Digital Media and Learning Competition in its sole discretion. Any video that violates the above Guidelines and/or is not in compliance with the Terms and Conditions will be disqualified. Please also visit the Terms & Conditions on Intellectual Property and Privacy Policies. Also note that while YouTube allows up to approximately 10 minutes for a video, your application will be disqualified should your video exceed 3 minutes.

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Special Rules for 21st Century Learning Lab Designers Category


The Competition Does Not Fund

Any project that lacks a participatory learning application. These include:

  • Non-digital projects
  • Specialized disciplinary research directed at others in the same discipline
  • Performances or exhibits that lack a learning component
  • Digital archiving projects
  • Research proposals or writing projects without practical or pedagogical application
  • Non-educational games
  • Projects that may be technologically sophisticated but are not oriented toward participatory learning

Policy On Human Subjects

All Digital Media and Learning Competition awards involving the use of human subjects must comply with the policies set forth and adhered to by the University of California and the primary applicants' home institution or organization.

The University of California is committed to the principle of protecting the rights of human subjects participating in research and related activities. It is University policy that the regulations of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), set forth in 45 CFR Part 46, are applicable to all research involving human subjects, as defined by these regulations for which the University is responsible. If a proposal includes the use of human subjects, it is the responsibility of the primary applicant to ensure that the project adheres to 45 CFR Part 46 and any guidelines set forth by the University of California, and by the primary applicants’ home institution.

Applicants with the highest likelihood of being awarded a grant will be required to provide the Institutional Review Board (IRB) with approval documents from the primary applicants’ home institution or organization. Applicants need not provide such documents at the time of application but should indicate in their proposals if the project involves human subjects research.

HASTAC, through the University of California, reserves the right to refuse any project application, or make any award, however meritorious, that does not fulfill the requirements on the protection of human subjects as defined by the University of California.

Intellectual Property and Privacy Policies

Copyright and Use of Applications

Copyright in material submitted with any application shall remain with the original owner. Applicants must ensure that any intellectual property owned by others and used in their submissions is approved for use and appropriately attributed. Successful Applicants must agree to provide a statement that will be made publicly available describing generally the nature of their proposed project and how it will further the purposes of the Competition. The Competition may make other portions of a successful application publicly available consistent with the terms of the Competition. The University shall have no obligation to return any materials to Applicants.

Treatment of Copyright In Products Funded By The Competition

Copyright in the product produced as a result of the award shall remain with the successful Applicant subject to the terms of the Competition. Each Applicant must agree, however, that if it receives an award it will license the use of the product in accordance with a Creative Commons License (Creative Commons Attribution, Non-Commercial, ShareAlike) or be Open Source.

It is the strong preference of the administrators of the Competition, the University of California and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation that the product produced as a result of an award be made publicly available promptly upon the completion of the product for little or no cost to the public. Distribution to the public at little or no cost is most consistent with the charitable principles underlying the purposes of the Competition. In keeping with the spirit of the Competition, however, it is recognized that there could be circumstances where a different distribution model could serve effectively the underlying educational purpose of the Competition.

Use of Revenues Generated By Distribution of Product

If an Applicant believes that the success of its project is dependent upon or significantly furthered through a distribution process that will result in a revenue stream, the Applicant must also submit a statement explaining why revenue creation is necessary and its plan describing how any revenue will be used or shared in furtherance of the charitable objectives of the Competition.

Applicable law and the policies of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation preclude the use of grant funds to further or benefit private interests in a manner that is more than incidental to a broader charitable purpose. Consequently, an Applicant will need to demonstrate that the revenue derived from the project will primarily benefit public/charitable purposes rather than private interests. This could include sharing of revenues with the University or another charitable organization through the use of royalty or similar arrangements. The amount and duration of any royalty interest shall depend upon the facts and circumstances underlying the proposed project and the nature of the Applicant such as whether it is a not for profit organization, commercial for profit enterprise or individual.

In cases where the Applicant believes it is not feasible to separate a revenue stream from an enhancement or modification to an existing project, the Applicant should provide an explanation and rationale for why the project itself will serve charitable purposes and be consistent with the objectives of the Competition.

Applicants are in the best position to provide an explanation and rationale for why the distribution of the product requires a particular cost structure, and how any revenues should be equitably shared and for how long. Applications will be reviewed in part in terms of how these issues are addressed consistent with the principles and requirements above.

Access To Usage Data

Award winners are encouraged to provide access to usage data to researchers studying award funded projects and their impact.


Personal information will be collected when you register on the Digital Media and Learning Competition site. Registration requires that you supply your name, email address, and home/work address. The information you submit will be used to confirm your eligibility, evaluate your application, and administer the awards. This information will be disclosed to the Competition judges and administrators for purposes of evaluation and selection.

Once registered, Applicants may receive periodic communications relating to important Competition deadlines and information.

Additionally, HASTAC, which is administering the Competition, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which is supporting the Competition, may send certain communications to Applicants relating to the field of digital media and learning. Applicants will have the opportunity to opt-out of receiving this additional information.

Information collected will not be sold, rented or provided to anyone for commercial or marketing purposes. Any use of the Competition website for commercial purposes is strictly prohibited. Like all websites and web servers, the Digital Media and Learning Competition web server automatically receives and records information from web browsers, including IP addresses, browser types, referring URLs, session and cookie information, and pages visited on the website. This information will not be used to identify individuals. It will be used to enhance the site and inform decisions about possible future Digital Media and Learning Competitions.

By submitting an application, all Applicants recognize that they will be required to provide an abstract of their application that will be made public. Applicants who do not receive awards will not be named or otherwise identified in the context of published abstracts.

Personal information received in connection with the Competition may be released as required by subpoena, law or a court of competent jurisdiction. Personal information may also be disclosed as noted on this website or in the event that an individual's safety or security is at risk or in order to protect the integrity, safety and security of this website.

Changes to the Privacy Policy

HASTAC reserves the right to modify this policy at any time without prior notification to users and registrants of the site. A notice will be posted on the website should significant policy changes take effect.


The University of California, HASTAC, and the funders supporting this website are not liable for any claim, loss or injury based on errors, omissions, interruptions or other inaccuracies either in this site, or for any claim, loss or injury that results from your use of this site.


Questions about intellectual property and privacy policies should be submitted via email. Click here for contact information.

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Special Rules for Game Changers Category

In the category of Game Changers, specific rules regarding ownership and licensing of intellectual property will apply with respect to applications involving the games, LittleBigPlanet™ and Spore™. The intellectual property for a creation by a successful application that represents an “add on” or additional level for LittleBigPlanet™ or Spore™ shall be owned by the owner of the intellectual property to the underlying game, as the ability to create such “add on” is a function of the code inherent in the game.

The “add-on,” new game or additional level created by a successful applicant with respect to Spore™ will be published and freely available to participants accessing the Spore™ website. Similarly, the add-on or new levels created by successful applicants with respect to LittleBigPlanet™ will be freely available to participants via the PlayStation®Network without the need to play any introductory levels.

Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) and Electronic Arts (EA) will take appropriate steps to recognize the successful applicants on applicable websites. SCEA will also prominently feature the successful applicant’s creation on the PlayStation®Network. EA will also provide a prominent space on the Spore™ website where the successful applicant’s “add on” or new game will be featured. Both companies will also consider other recognition steps for the successful applicants and the Competition generally.

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