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

This project was submitted by an applicant to the Digital Media and Learning Competition.




Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum is part of the Smithsonian Institution, the largest and most visited museum complex in the world.  Cooper-Hewitt seeks to integrate badging into its highly successful DesignPrep program in collaboration with Hive NYC, a consortium of New York City cultural institutions supported by the MacArthur Foundation.  

DesignPrep provides underserved NYC high school students with unparalleled opportunities to see themselves as a designer through afterschool workshops, studio visits, portfolio critiques, design school visits, mentorships and internships, among other activities.  Student learning occurs in-person and includes hands-on methods and observation.  DesignPrep is a perfect vehicle for badges as it integrates diverse elements—21st century skills, dedication, and design and creative abilities—that are extremely difficult to assess with a test score.  In addition, often narrowly thought of as “art” or “fashion,” design tends to be underrepresented in schools.  Badges will promote formal student skill assessment as well as provide proof of achievement, boosting confidence and bolstering resumes and higher learning applications.

Cooper-Hewitt will employ a multi-tiered system that will allow students to secure badges based on design disciplines and skills.  At the highest level, students can earn weighted badges in each area or for the overall program.  This system will allow students to study design at a lateral level before delving deeper into specialties.  Weighted badge holders will assume more responsibility and receive the opportunity to access more incentives.

Sample badges:

·         Disciplines: Architecture, Fashion, Graphic Design, Digital Curator

·         Skills: Collaboration, Presentation, Portfolio Prep, Interviewing, Community Activist

·         Weighted badges: Fashion Mentor or a higher-weighted DesignPrep Mentor

Cooper-Hewitt will partner with Hive to provide diverse learning content and experiences for students as well as transferrable or reciprocal badges and collaborative incentive opportunities.  Example:  As student with an  “App Design” badge from Hive partner Iridescent, will receive credits towards its Cooper-Hewitt Graphic Design badge.  Similarly, if a student completing a Community Activist badge from Hive partner DreamYard can have the opportunity to meet with a Cooper-Hewitt professional urban or landscape design partners.  Cooper-Hewitt will also integrate badging into its recently-funded Hive project with the American Museum of Natural History.


Through DesignPrep, students will learn industry-specific skills and techniques from professional designers and Museum educators such as Fashion: draping, stitching, garment structure; Architecture: understanding scale, drafting, model making; Graphic Design: layout, font, print vs. digital formatting. Students will gain understanding of skills both at discrete levels and through continuing performance.

By participating in the design process—working in teams, examining design problems, communicating their work, studying design as a profession, etc.—students will gain 21st century skills such as critical thinking and problem solving, interpersonal and self-direction skills, communication skills, civic literacy, global awareness, and will develop entrepreneurial skills. 

Video exemplifying how students gain a multitude of skills simultaneously through the study of design:



As they engage in the design process, DesignPrep students will assume the role of citizen designer, seeing themselves as disciplined professionals.  As important, students will assume roles such as collaborators, leaders, creators, community activists, and design school students.

Example: Digital Curator Project— Student Roles: Curators, Researchers, Leaders, Mentors, Design Historians, Collaborators, Professionals.

This project empowers underserved students to act as curators in tandem with Cooper-Hewitt curators by selecting collection items to prioritize for digitization and creating search words for identification.  In 2011 Cooper-Hewitt anticipates expanding this program to include peer mentorship.


In 2011/2012 Cooper-Hewitt envisions this program will culminate with a multi-session graphic design workshop with Phil Jimenez, well-known by teens for his work in The Amazing Spider-Man.


Students will require a suite of skill and discipline badges to be eligible for incentives.  At a pre-determined level of achievement they are eligible for opportunities such as:

·         Mentorship/increased responsibilities such as a leadership role in a workshop

·         Access to professional designers –Example:  shadowing a graphic designer

·         Professional portfolio or project review

·         MakerBot 3-D printer privileges

·         Consideration for the Cooper-Hewitt Scholars program— a rigorous program for an intimate group of students to concentrate on design as a profession and secure design internships. 


Cooper-Hewitt currently conducts program assessments and will work with professional evaluator IFC Macro to develop an evaluation plan designed to align with the Museum’s badging program. 


Cooper-Hewitt will leverage its strong partnerships to:

·         Continue its six year relationship with assessment expert, Helene Jennings of ICF Macro — a leader in evaluating students and online materials.

·         Lead the Hive network in developing an overlying framework to provide cohesion among badges.

·         Promote the Smithsonian brand in establishing badge value in the public school system. 

·         Possibly integrate Cooper-Hewitt badging into the NYC Department of Education’s badging pilot and Cooper-Hewitt’s US DOE i3 assessment program. 

·         Connect students with professional designers.


Cooper-Hewitt will administer its badges.  Badge awards will be determined by a jury of Cooper-Hewitt staff, which will evolve to include student-mentors and professional designers.  To be considered for a badge, students must attend workshops and activities, generate an end product, and undertake a leadership role in the program, such as participating in a critique discussing their work and the work of their peers.  Students will also be evaluated on criteria such as participation, collaboration, prototyping, and the ability to answer a prescribed design challenge.

Badges will be displayed on a section of the Museum website that can be linked with badging sites of other Hive partners.  This section will be designed by Seb Chan, Cooper-Hewitt’s new Director of Digital and Emerging Media  The required infrastructure for this project is still to be determined. 


Cooper-Hewitt plans to involve students and professional graphic designers in its badge design.  Student badge design workshops will examine the elements of the Smithsonian, Cooper-Hewitt, DesignPrep and Hive brands that Cooper-Hewitt wants its badges to convey.  Cooper-Hewitt will host workshops for Hive members to develop badge designs that reflect a clear Hive brand in tandem with the brand identity of the issuer.  



blog comments powered by Disqus