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

Corporation for Public Broadcasting: American Graduate Initiative Badges


American Graduate
Corporation for Public Broadcasting Framework for Collaboration

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government’s investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of more than 1,300 locally-owned and –operated public television and radio stations nationwide, and is the largest single source of funding for research, technology, and program development for public radio, television and related online services.

Public media has long been a trusted educational resource, providing students of all ages with programming and resources and teachers with tools to help them better educate America’s youth.

In 2011, public media launched a national initiative to deploy our network of locally-owned and –operated television and radio stations to address one of the most challenging issues of our time – the dropout crisis.  The American Graduate Let’s Make It Happen Initiative supports the development of national and local content, engagement of local communities and creation of multimedia tools to deliver locally-customized solutions that address the dropout crisis.

Learning Content
CPB proposes the development of a system of badges surrounding the American Graduate Let’s Make It Happen educational content and resources to be made available nationally via the American Graduate website – (website currently under development) and deployed by local public media stations within their communities. American Graduate content and resources target middle- and high-school children who are at most risk for dropping out, including those who are economically disadvantaged, are from immigrant families, or who face other obstacles that are likely to keep them from graduating.

American Graduate educational resources are specifically designed to engage youth and make tangible connections between their education and their career goals and aspirations. These digital educational resources will prepare students for college and career utilizing devices and platforms they use every day.

Partners and Resources
Existing educational resources already identified as part of American Graduate Let's Make It Happen include:
  • StoryCorps U: An oral history curriculum that engages high school students, develops their literacy skills, and prepares them for college and career. (

    StoryCorps website screenshot
  • Roadtrip Nation: This combination of an annual television series, online content, youth-created media, digital interview archive, innovative curriculum and live local events engages youth, especially at-risk students, and provides access and exposure to life pathways and prepares them for college. (

    Roadtrip Nation website screenshot
  • PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs: Recognizing that engagement is the key for keeping kids in school and nourishing healthy communities, the NewsHour Student Reporting Labs employs a unique mentoring model, an innovative journalism curriculum and an online collaborative workspace to allow students to develop digital media, critical thinking and communication skills, while producing news reports for PBS NewsHour Extra. (

CPB envisages a series of badges that could be built around a common set of skills and competencies that could be attained by successful participation in any of the above three projects. (For more detail, see the Skills and Competencies section below.)

Another set of educational resources available through American Graduate include the games and resources that form part of the CPB American History and Civics Initiative (AHCI) which represents a major commitment by CPB to address critical shortfalls in middle and high school students’ knowledge of American history and our political systems. Four AHCI projects will be available to teachers and students during the 2011-2012 school year and will be featured on the American Graduate website as part of the collection of digital educational resources available to educators and at-risk youth. As the skills attained by students successfully participating in and completing this suite of games would be focused specifically on student knowledge of American History and Civics, and therefore potentially quite different from the skills that would be attained by participating in the three projects described above, we envisage this as a possible second phase of badge development.

AHCI projects include:

  • Mission: U.S. – a package of three free online video games set in different eras of American history. Through game play, students navigate historic settings, develop relationships with key figures, investigate primary documents, witness pivotal events and ultimately decide their fictional character’s fate in the face of actual history. In addition, the project includes a website with classroom resources, and activities and social networking opportunities for teachers and students ( To view initial research results from the Mission: U.S. pilot, please visit:

    Mission US website screenshot
  • Young American Heroes – a multi-platform educational project aimed at teaching American History to middle schoolers through the stories of ordinary kids doing extraordinary things during seminal moments of our nation’s past (

    Young American Heroes website screenshot
  • Past/Present – a multi-platform approach to teaching American history to middle school students through a multi-platform immersive historical role-playing game. The game offers students a first-person understanding of daily life by playing characters based on ordinary Americans of long ago. Players complete a series of game challenges which require them to navigate their character through historically-accurate environments and make informed decisions about their character’s life. ( (Note: currently website contains information only; the Past/Present game is not yet live.)

    Past Present website screenshot
  • HD Lab – “Young History Detectives” builds upon the strong nationwide response from educators and students to the popular PBS TV series, “History Detectives.” Teens across the nation explore America’s past by investigating historical objects (some in their own families’ possession) with the help of the History Detectives website and experts. (This game is still under development; not yet live.)

    HD: Lab website screenshot

In addition, CPB is working with Nine Network of Public Media in St. Louis, and WNET/New York, American Graduate Let’s Make It Happen Initiative and Education Managers respectively, to identify, curate and aggregate additional local and national educational content and resources as part of the Initiative and to identify and address gaps in the available curriculum. As Initiative Manager, Nine Network is charged with oversight, coordination and support of the integrated components of the American Graduate Initiative which include national and local on-air and online content, interactive educational resources, and on-the-ground community engagement. Nine Network also manages the work of the 25 public media stations working in 20 communities to establish Public Media Community Hubs to help address and find solutions to the dropout crisis.  As American Graduate Education Manager, WNET/New York oversees, coordinates and supports specifically the educational components of the Initiative, including the identification and aggregation of interactive educational materials and the creation and implementation of teacher professional development.

Skills, Competencies, Capacities, Qualities and Achievements
These engaging educational resources provide the opportunity to create a system of badges across all American Graduate educational resources that would highlight the skills and competencies developed by participating students. These include 21st Century skills such as critical thinking, collaboration, creative problem-solving and teamwork, in addition to skills acquired during the development of digital media. These include project management, research, communication, and leadership skills, in addition to technology and written communication skills, such as audio and video recording and editing, interviewing, producing and directing, among others. Students will develop the skills and competencies throughout their participation in each of these projects. One of the challenges is to identify all the skills students can attain while participating with these resources and design a system of badges that recognizes both individual skill sets, while also providing recognition of the aggregate set of skills achieved by these students.

Students are not required to participate in and complete each of the available American Graduate educational resources. Rather, a menu of resources is being developed for the Initiative, and will be made available to educators and students through their local Public Media Community Hub stations. Each local community will choose which resources to offer to their students. Therefore, we envision the creation of a flexible American Graduate badge system that will accommodate skill sets that are common throughout all of the educational resources, such as the development of 21st Century Skills. At the same time, it is likely that certain badges would be specific to a particular resource or set of resources. A set of digital media production badges could be developed and would be common across the resources that teach those skills, including PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs, Roadtrip Nation and StoryCorpsU, and during a potential second phase of development, an American History and Civics badge(s), could be earned by successful participation and completion of any or all of the available AHCI games. 

Goals/Opportunities for the Badge System
In addition to rewarding badges to students for the development of individual skills or a group of skills associated with individual educational resources, the goal of this project would be to elevate and connect the badge system across the American Graduate Initiative, to create a pathway of participation between the resources, and to extend the value of student participation and enable students to gain credit for their experiences and assist them in being prepared for college and careers.
Value of the Badge System
Participation in any or all of the American Graduate educational resources provides students with an authentic, relevant and highly valuable experience.  In creating a system of badges across all American Graduate resources, our goal is to ensure that students gain appropriate recognition for their work and are able to leverage skills mastered as they pursue their education and careers. The skills that students can develop through American Graduate are highly relevant, important and valuable to their future education and career worlds; consequently, having the ability to show evidence of these skills and competencies can help students achieve advancement through formal channels, continue their education, find career paths and ultimately get jobs.
Technology Considerations
As an organization, CPB does not have the internal technical system or infrastructure to support learner interaction with materials and assessments or to support the issuing of badges. Nor do we believe that CPB is an appropriate organization to issue badges. Consequently, we would look to American Graduate content creators, in conjunction with WNET/New York, the American Graduate Education Manager, and Nine Network/St. Louis, the American Graduate Initiative Manager, to support learner interaction with materials and assessments and to support issuing of badges. We would be interested in working with these organizations to potentially develop a badge system that would provide connections between the different programs available as part of American Graduate, and to potentially identify or develop an umbrella organization to provide those connections and issue the badges. We are also interested in determining how this proposed badge system could feed into with wider ecosystem of badges and the Open Badge infrastructure being developed by Mozilla. 
Branding Considerations
It would be essential to CPB that any and all badges or groupings of badges developed through this project would be branded as American Graduate and would, in some fashion, incorporate the American Graduate logo. We would rely on the designers to suggest ways of doing this to highlight both the individual skill and/or group of skills achieved and the fact that these skills were achieved while participating in the larger American Graduate Initiative designed to keep kids in school and to ensure that they graduate college and career ready. 


blog comments powered by Disqus