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Launch Event Transcript

Richard Cachalic, Director, Hirshhorn Museum

Ok everybody I hope you can take a seat we are going to get this program started. I’ll wait a few minutes and everybody can take a seat but this is a very interesting program and a very important program, it’s going to take a good part of the day so we want to start on time.

I don’t know if you know but you’re in Washington DC on the National Mall and my name is Richard Cachalic and I am Director of the Hirshhorn Museum and have been for the last three years and prior to that I was director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and the President of Arts Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA.

I am thrilled to see such a diverse and creative community brought together today by our wonderful partner in digital literacy, and I say this with great sincerity, and that is the John D and Catherine T MacArthur foundation I would like to personally thank today Julia Stash of mac for in the paper today about a new spaceship that is going to actually be built soon and is going to take you into deep space and also take you to Mars, and I asked Leland if I could get a seat on the first flight and Leland said, “Absolutely, no problem” there’s other people in line, in the queue such as the man who is the head of Virgin airlines whatever his name is , I’m kidding, I’m kidding, but Leland said he’s going to move me up on the list and I’ll be on the first flight and I really want to go to Mars, I think I’ve been there I’ve been working in Museums for a long time.

So I think hahah I’ve been to Mars and then we also want to welcome Mark Sermon at the Mozilla foundation along with the rest of this inspired group of people who are here today.

It is note worthy for us an we have also embarked on a series of signature initiatives inspired one being the youth media center which Ryan over here is heading and also Melaina over here and it’s coming to our museum and its going to occupy all key spaces at the institution starting with the lobby and the idea is that we’re going-- it’s a program called curating public spaces for educational benefit so it’s going to start in the lobby so instead of the first impression you get when you enter a museum being a commercial one or a typical museum lobby we’re going to turn it into a classroom of the future also it’s going to move to the lower lobby.

It’s going to move to the central courtyard which you probably saw when you came in—it’s where the large fountain is, and twice a year in May and October we’re going to inflate a fifteen story inflatable building that’s going to be an auditorium and a classroom of the future and we’re going to do programs that deal with critical issues confronting cultural education international cultural diplomacy how technology is driving culture.

It’s being lead by an individual named Erica Clarke who is also here today, so we are very very very, sort of, grateful to the MacArthur Foundation for helping us here and for helping us build a different kind of future your endeavor is about the future and so is ours so we look forward to move forward with not only the MacArthur Foundation and to listening today to what is going to be discussed.

So on behalf of the board of regents of the Smithsonian as you know we are the contemporary modern arm dealing with modern art of the Smithsonian institution and myself I welcome you to the Hirshhorn Museum and I hope you have a fantastic day.

Hari Sreenivasan, Correspondent, Director of Digital Partnerships, PBS

Good morning (“Good morning" from crowd), good I’m glad they’re awake out there.

My name's Hari thanks so much for joining us today I am a correspondent for PBS newshour and I am also their director of digital partnerships and I am very pleased to have been asked to moderate this event because digital media and learning is of particular interest to me especially some of the work that the student reporting labs at the News Hour do so those of us working in this field and thinking about digital media know what a huge contribution the MacArthur Foundation has made over the past five years. The digital media and learning initiative has helped us all see how digital media are changing the way that young people are learning and playing and socializing and also participation gin civic life today so today's discussion we’re going to focus on how learning in the 21st century is going to demand new ways of thinking new set of partnerships in the public and private sectors, so today the MacArthur Foundation and HASTAC, which I will unpack that acronym shortly, and Mozilla are announcing the 4th digital media and learning competition.

This year it’s focused on badges for lifelong learning, and it’s not the kind of badges I had on my Eagle Scout merit badges sash it’s far far more interesting than that.

The comp is designed to increase the use of these badges as a way to inspire learning and demonstrate skills and knowledge over a lifetime so it is my pleasure to introduce our first set of speakers we’re going to talk about the badges their remarks are hopefully going to set the table explain exactly what these badges are how they work and why their valuable.

And explain why Mac and collaborators are so excited about this project and the variety of ways that these badges can be earned and awarded recognized and even displayed whether you can stick this one your resume virtual or not.

Our speakers are going to be Julie Stash, the vice president of US programs for John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation, and after her is Mark Sherman the president of Mozilla, if you don’t know who Mozilla is if you use a Firefox browser they are the ones that bring you that for free, the us secretary of Education Arnie Duncan who’s just wakled into the building on cue and Charles Bolden administrator of NASA.

So after these remarks form these individuals there will be a brief opportunity for Secretary Duncan and Administrator Bolden to take just a couple questions from the press, and then we’re going to hear from another panel of representatives from government industry media and education as well so I know there are some folks in today’s audience here in the room and watching by the webcast who are very curious about the competition and for that we’re going to have David Goldberg from the Humanities Arts Science and Technology Advanced Collaboratory (HASTAC).

They are going to be administering the comp and so David will explain how that works, and so finally then we’ll have a second round of questions from the audience and then an opportunity to see some of these badges in real world situations and demonstrations so we’re extremely happy to have the demonstrations from the Mozilla peer to peer university, remix learning, and top-coder and so if you’ve got time their going to be up here we’ll sort of switch the stage around and I really encourage you to take a look at that.

And for those who are watching the webcast the hash-tag (#) for you to be tweeting being a participant in this conversation is “#DMLBadges” so if you can go ahead and send any questions or thoughts you have I’ll try to figure put a way to incorporate that into the conversation as well.

So without any further ado Julie Stash from the MacArthur Foundation.

Julie Stash, Vice President, MacArthur Foundation

Well good morning and thank you very much, Thank you Hari.

And I have two tasks today first I want to thank the people who worked so hard to get us to this absolutely terrific day and second I want to launch, announce the launch of the fourth Digital Media and Learning Competition.

First a special thank you to you Richard and your staff here at Hirshhorn thank you for having us in this absolutely incredible asset for our country and for the innovative work your doing with Art Lab I’m so excited that it will actually open very soon and we will be able to see what it means for young people to really engage in what you have to offer all of us.

I want to especially thank the White House Office of Science and Technology, and Kumar Gard and Tom Callil, for bringing to this competition so many of the organizations that you’ll hear about and meet today.

I want to thank Karen Kader from the Department of Education for her incredible leadership and her support for this, and many other, digital media and learning efforts.

I really look forward to the demonstrations from Peer-to-Peer University, Remix Learning, and Top-Coder as these are the organizations that will bring badges alive for you later on, and then I have to say thank you to Erin Knight of the Mozilla Foundation for everything she knows about badges and for working with virtually everyone to make this all happen.

Second I am pleased to announce the launch of the Fourth Digital Media and Learning Competition. Since 2007 the competition has bee the centerpiece of the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning initiative, we are taking a hard look at how digital technologies are changing how young people learn, how they play, and how they socialize. And how they engage in civic life.

Now we all understand that this has deep and profound implications for the institutions that are charged with educating our young people now and throughout their lives.

Of course these institutions are schools and museums and libraries and after school programs and helping them adapt and change is a goal of the work now past competitions have supported the development of learning applications by individuals and organizations across the United States and actually around the world.

The theme of this year’s competition is “Badges for Lifelong Learning”- think about those works, with our partner HASTAC our partner from the beginning.

This virtual, wonderful virtual, network of educators and digital visionaries, and for the first time this year the Mozilla Foundation we’re looking for leading organizations, learning and assessment specialist and designers and technologists to design and test badges to design and test badges as a way to help people to learn, to assess that learning, to demonstrate the acquisition of new knowledge and skills.

Just as important we are looking for researchers to explore key questions about the role of badges in learning recognition and accreditation. Now the competition will award up to 2 million dollars and a little bit later David Theo Goldberg form HASTAC will share all the specifics.

Now why are we excited about the competition? First in our Digital Media Learning initiative we are learning ourselves that digital media are helping to re-imagine learning.

Keep that phrase in your head: re-imagine learning.

More than anytime in the past learning can happen anywhere and anytime in both formal and informal settings, new skills and competencies are needed for the 21st century workforce and for a functioning democracy.

And as you’ll hear about today badges are emerging as a new way to both encourage and demonstrate leaning. Badges are simple they’re easy and if they’re done well that can present a much more nuanced picture of what someone knows and what someone can do.

They actually have the potential to connect people to opportunities in new ways.

I am also very excited about the Competition because of who is interested in exploring badges with us. We have a terrific group of collaborators these are orgs with content, programs, and activities that they think could be enhanced by badges.

They include the Departments of Energy, Education, Labor, and Veterans affairs, NASA, the National 4H Council, the Corporation for public broadcasting, the national association of manufacturers, the American Library Association, Intel, Motorola , Microsoft research and micro partners in learning, time warner, and inside jobs.

Now I hope this is just the beginning of a really long and big list of collaborators.

I am really pleased that this group is so diverse, and that it reps so many sectors and so many interests, thanks to each and every one of you especially thanks to those of you who will join us now and later to offer your own incentives to develop badges, now I’ll turn the podium over to Mark Sermon of Mozilla Foundation who has turned out to be a true thought partner and he and his org are the creators of the infrastructure that will make badges available across the internet. But let me close with just a final comment.

We do not know everything we need to know about badges, there is much more to learn and we hope than this competition both the design component and the all important research component will launch a broad, open, critical, constructive conversation about badges.

How they can change the way young people are encouraged to learn how that learning is validated how people share information about themselves how businesses make hiring decisions and how we as a society support the acquisition of skills and capacities that are important both to human potential and national competitiveness. so thank you and welcome and let me invite mark to the podium.

(Mark Surman takes the podium- audience applause)


Mark Surman, Executive Director, Mozilla

Thank you Julie and that thought partnership has been an astounding thing as we’ve gotten to this stage and hopefully this is the beginning of a thought partnership with everybody in the room and everybody out there watching this is an incredibly exciting set of ideas that we’re talking about here today.

So let me see, I guess I’ve got to pull my slides up here. Community agencies like 4H, who’s one of the collaborators are turning to badges so there’s a whole conversation started here about using badges for learning and really what the DML comp is about is taking that conversation forward digging in to those questions aren’t answered yet that Julie talked about at the end of her talk and seeing how we can take this idea forward and really use it to drive learning to drive creativity and help people get jobs. so you know that’s the idea of badges the second thing I want to talk about as the geek in the room, or one of the geeks in the room, is what does it mean to then have that really become a rich ecosystem? something that really shifts and empowers how learning happens and so that’s the idea we’ve got we want to take this idea that people are playing badges and weave it into something bigger.

And so the technical piece of this that mozilla’s doing beyond using badges for teaching web development. which is something we are quite committed to as well is to build this thing called the open badge infrastructure which is basically a set sof standards and teach bukiding blacks people can use to build a badge website and so our hope in building up this ecosystem we’re gonna build something that helps learners help educators help employers all meet their goals together. So just very briefly, how might that work? why is it interesting to talk about having building blocks for badges? why not just have everybody issue their own badges, which they will? Why do we need to think about something like an open system for badge infstructure.

I want to tell you a story to talk about why it’s important and a little bit of what it is so this is a guy we call Eduardo and imagine eduardo at maybe a younger level after school, he looks a little old here.

Um had is he’d earned a badge at an after school program 3-4 year earlier, and he kinda put it in his pocket or on his harddrive but it was about something quite incredible that he had achieved, but then later he took a free online course from peer-to-peer university, or somewhere else, and he also had been involved at the end of high school in a nasa learning program so he’s got all these badges from different places the way the web works now those badges would probably just stand up on those three different websites.

So they’re kinda spread out somewhere but really what he wants to do is be able to put them all in one place he wants to be able to say this is me I’ve done all these things, and that broadly on the web is a problem that we are struggling with is that as I build up my reputation how do I take all my stuff that tells my story and put it in my profile put it in a place where I can tell a story so I'm not sending people to all these websites, very simple case you can imagine and more improtantly if I can pull this story about myself togetehr if that's what I want to do I want to take it and put it all in the place where people might come to find me, right? I don't want to have some ne who's going to a job site, then go to NASA, and then to Mozilla, and then to iRemix.

I want an actual one the job website, see these badges, see that I know these thingsbeacuse those are the things that are going to actually lead to jobs.

Lead to new learning and lead to unlicking opportunities. So our goal is to create an ecosystem where Eduardo, or any learner, at any age, can learn anywhere, across all different contexts, put all their badges together in a single profile and then uh be able to display them anywhere to kind-of lead to those learning outcomes that we have that actually that is a simple thing to do on one level, all we need is a basic set of building blocks that everyone agrees to use.

Bascially the same way of representing a badge on the Internet. But even though that's simple, in order to do it we need to define it, get everybody to actually buy in and use it, and that's what the Open Badges Infrastructure piece of this is.

To say, people who are going to come and use the Competition, anyone who is going to do badges-- here are these simple building blocks, here are how you can give Eduardo this badge, he can take it with him and use it in the rest of his life, building his online reputation. Building his career and moving on from there.

So that's the idea of the Open Badge Infrastructure so what's next from here ?

We've got these big ideas about what badges can do and very personally beyond just the infrasturcture piece, beyond our uh our learning programs about web development, I am excited about where this idea can go in transforming learning.

I think the idea that people can learn anywhere and have real credibility for what they learn and be able to tell a story for themsleves is the story of the Internet and learning, and that personally to me, is very exciting.

So what are we going to next to bring that story to life, well today the first version of the Open Badges software ships, so uh you can go and find the information online, go and find those building blocks, start to use them and here actaully is a reference, which is called the Badeg backpack, the basci beginnings of a profile system where a learner could accept badges and collect them from many different websites and thats available today to go and see and play with and it will get even better in coming weeks and months by the time the Competition launches, and actually if there are geeks in the room this is what you'll kind-of be able to unpack as you get there, basically we are talking about a set of APIs and metadata specfications that allow this exchange to happen across the Internet.

So you can go, if you're technically minded, you can go and see that stuff, although there's lots on the website for people who don't want to play at that level and then even more exciting than the fact that the softwares out there, the DMLCompetition launches today, as Julie said, as David will explain, and what's exciting about that is it's going to build on those building blocks on that Open Badge Infrastructure. Real learning, real badges that are actually going to bring people into this conversation and help people get jobs and learn things, and so just quickly, esecically if you're just out there on the web and you want to go and find things or go and afterwards come and talk to us how you get involved there's two important websites to know about- one is the DML Competition website, all the information you need to know about the Competition is there and then finally is live and up and running and you can go see the technology and learn about what we are talking about and this is something that you can see from the logo that MacArthur has been an incredibly generous and supporting us to do and has been a partnership in getting there and I think that the partnership both with MacArthur and all of you is just beginning and we are all excited about so thanks very much come and chat to us afterwards this is going to be an exciting couple of years thanks very much. (applause)


(Arne Duncan, Department of Education takes the stage)


Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education, Department of Education

President Obama and I both see building a world-class public education system as an economic, civic, and social imperative.

A mission he’s championed since the day he became president. Just last week President Obama outlined his American Jobs Act before a joint session of congress.

His plan includes immediate investments that will help today’s students compete in tomorrow’s globally competitive economy.

As President Obama said, “Every child deserves a great school and we can now give it to them if we act.” The Jobs Act will 30 billion dollars to support teacher jobs and another 30 billion dollars to modernize and renovate some of our schools that are today crumbling.

Both are essential ingredients in the president’s plan to create and preserve jobs and to move our economy forward.

They will ensure children get the preparation they need to compete for jobs in the 21st century.

This administration has a systemic cradle to career vision for reform. It begins with stronger, more inclusive early childhood education programs, Transitions into a world-class P-12 system and culminates in with college that must be accessible and affordable for every student….

For nearly 3 years we’ve persured this vision without swearving and in all our policies and programs in both our forumla and competative dollars.

We've focused on increasing student achievement built on a foundation of more aligned and personalized instruction, more effective teachers and scholl leaders, safer and more conducive scholl environments as well as more engaged supportive communities.

We know there is no silver bullet that will solve allof our educational and financial challenges but we also know there is one sector with tremendous untapped potential and thats the field of educatuon technology as we upgrade the crumbling infrastructure in our scholls we must also invest in the innovative learning technologies that can transform both teaching and learning.

The president and I are convinced that with technology we have an extraordinary opportunity to expand educational excellence and equity and personalize the experience for students.

Technology can enable the high-quality teaching and learning that today's students need to thrive as citizens as workers and as leaders in the digital age and a globally competitive knowledge economy.

That vision is outlined in our national education technology plan that we released last year, our plan called "Transforming American Education: Learning Empowered by Technology" aims to re-frame learning as a process that is not only lifelong but also life-wide.

We're excited that this year this Competition will serve as a catalyst to advance the potential of digital badges, badges that can help engage students in learning and broaden the avenues for all learners or all ages, to aquire and to demonstrate as well as document and display their skills.

Badges can help speed the shift from credentials that simply measure seat time to ones that more accurately measure competency, and we must do everything we can to exccelerate that transition.

It can also help to account for both formal and informal learning and in a variety of different settings.

Today's technology enabled information rich, deeply inter-connected world, means learning not only can but must happen anywhere, anytime.

We need to recognize these experiences whether these environments are physical or online and wehtehr the learning takes place in schools or colleges or out of education centers or an after-school work=place, military or community settings.

In short, we must begin to see our schools, colleges, and classrooms as central points, very critical ones, but central points in a larger network of learning.

As we recognize multiple ways for students to learn we need multiple ways to assess and to document their performance, students teachers and admnistrators are all hungry to move beyond the bubble test towards assessments that are more varied immediate and data-rich.

Digital badges are an important step in this direction and badges offer a crucial way to recognize non-traditional ways of learning that when to give creedence and ultimately credit for skills learners and teachers aquire in a broader set of learning environments and a wider range of content.

Badges also empower students and teacher to play an even stronger role in their own learning and development.

To seek out the right tools among the many, many resources available and in their fields of interest and then build a record or what they ahve mastered, and here let me emphasize how badges can help advance the careers and mark the capacity of building milestones.

Teaching as all of you know is one of the most complex challenging and important professions.

We see technology in general, and badges in particular as a new way to support America's new and vetted teachers and help them achieve professional growth we know they crave.

Now, I want to speak for a moment about this Competitions goals-- investing in promising and creative solutions creating a climate of innovation and becomming a catalyst for the best ideas in education reform.

MacArthur's innovative grant making approach and a work group at the federal level are absolutely aligned. I challenge our team at the Department of Education every single day to move from being a compliance driven beaurocracy to become an engine of innovation at the State and Local level.

That is the right of federal role. Since we know the best ideas will always come from the field not from any of us here in Washington we've luanched competitions like "Race to the Top", "Invest Innovation", "Promise Neighborhood", and the early learning challenge grants that help seed and support change and scale up what works to increase student achievement and to exccelarate learning and that's whay I am so intrigued by the idea of digital badges.

We've already seen the impact of alternative industry recognized credentials of sites such as, which has opened up a significant new path for computer programmers seeking to demonstrate skills that qualify them for good jobs with high paying salaries at fast growing companies, like Google and Facebook.

In this context we must also consider the thousands of service men, the men and women who return each year to civilian life from.

Many of our veterans bring back employab;e and even exceptional skills copetencies and achievements gained all over the globe and yet too often these talents are over-looked in the civilian workforce.

Because they may not appear on traditional resumes or transcripts.

Here badges we think can be a game changing strategy.

And so today I am so pleased to announce that the department of veteran's affairs innovation initiative will join this effort with the commitment to award a $25,000 prize for the best badge concept and prototype that serves veterans seeking good paying jobs in today's technology rich economy.

The VA will join Mozilla and MacArthur Foundations and the Departments of Education and Labor, to supprt and sponsor this part of the Digital Media and Lifelong Learning Competition and it will be called the "Badges for Heros Challenge".

No one deserves these kind of innovative opportunities to learn and demonsrate their skills more than our nations veterans.

By promoting badges and the Open Education Infrastructure that supports them, the federal government can contribute to change that the education, business and philanthropic sectors are generating.

We can build new avenues for entreprenurship and collaboration. and spark economic development both here at home and across the globe, and while education is without question the key to economic success of individuals and our nation as a whole, it's equally vital for preparing new generations to sustain our democracy and perpetuate the values that make this country great.

As technology increasingly empowers learning in America it will power the American dream for generations to come.

Technology is an essential tool to propel the vast increases in educational access and quality that this nation must achieve with a real sense of urgency over the next decade.

As the President pointed out in a speech introducing the American's Job Act American should be in a race to the top.

And he believes that we can win that race. with efforts like this competition we can encourage break throughs in the types of free, high-quality online open educational resources that lift educational attainment rates and foster renewed economic growth.

If we get this transformative technology and revolution right our generation will literally enable the greated expansion in access to high-quality educational opportunities in history.

And I am confident that we can, and will get this right, so let me in conclusion thank again the MacArthur Foundation and its partners for their leadership and for their generousity and to all of the collaborators the best of luck with their proposals through the vision of this Competition's funders and the creativity and results of it's participants that our nations learners both young and old will be the true winners. Thank you so much. (applause)


(Charles F. Bolden, NASA takes the stage)


Charles F. Bolden, Administrator, NASA

[00:31:50] Interviewer: Arne thank you very much for your remarks you actually gave me a lot of ideas so I may screw up my uh presentation here (audience laughs).

I just glad to be here, to represent NASA and I really want to thank the MacArthur Foundation and Mozilla Foundation for what you're doing. We're really proud to be a partner in this effort.