Playlists for Learning Informational Webinar | Wed., March 30 @ 1pm EST

March 24, 2016

Join us for a Playlists for Learning Informational Webinar on Wednesday, March 30 at 1pm EST.


Designing Connected Learning Playlists

What is connected learning? What are connected learning playlists? How can your team use playlists to scale connected learning experiences to a broad audience? What are the keys to successful connected learning playlist design? Join the DML Competition and LRNG teams as they tackle these questions and more in an introduction to connected learning playlists and playlist design principles.

This webinar will provide a framework to guide applicants in the creation of competitive applications for the Playlists for Learning Competition. Webinar participants will have an opportunity to ask questions about connected learning, playlists and playlist designs, and the the Playlists for Learning Competition.  Questions can be submitted in advance by emailing and including “webinar question” in the subject line.





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Webinar ID: 222 909 399

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LRNG Playlist Platform Demo | Apri 1, 2016 @4pm ET

March 21, 2016


Good news for those who are curious about the affordances of the playlist platform. On Friday, April 1, 2016 at 4pm ET, LRNG Partner Product Manager Tim Cook will walk through the live organization and city-admin functionality, as well as some upcoming features for the brand new youth experience.

This is an open public invitation. Save your spot in advance and share any questions or plans for how you hope to use the platform.



Press Play to Connect Learning

March 17, 2016


Mosaic Pattern


More than ever, our current culture of learning is entwined with database architectures and a buffet of technologies that influence how we access and experience learning, including the exploration and discovery of different pathways, and how those pathways are scaffolded.

One of the recent developments in this trend are learning playlists, which apply the thinking behind and benefits of modern music playlist technologies to educational contexts. Their potential to conceptualize learning processes and pathways that can lead to expertise development make them a compelling new area for research and design. Scaling high-quality, well-curated, interest-driven learning experiences to broad audiences, and doing so in ways that step people through these learning pathways in meaningful ways — this is something researchers, educators, and designers believe playlists and playlist platforms can do.

Playlist technologies can serve as wayfinding for learners looking for answers to questions about their interests:

What are robots about? How can I learn how to build a robot? What steps do I take to get there? What knowledge and skills do I need? Who can teach this to me? Who else is interested in this subject? Once I know how to build a robot, how can I tell other people what I learned, what I made, and what I want to do next?

With the help of mentors, educators, experts, and more experienced peers, learners are exposed to what some refer to as scaffolding (channeling, focusing, modeling, and fading) through engagement with playlist themes and structures. By engaging socially with others who share their interests, learners are invited into discourses that can help them translate their interests into key skills:

What is critical thinking, why is it so necessary across all professional career paths as well as in ordinary citizen exchanges? And what are the capacities I need to develop to become a good critical thinker?How do I go about acquiring these capacities, what sorts of exercise need I to engage in to hone my critical thinking abilities, and how do I apply them to different analytical contexts?

In their most simple incarnation, playlists are a series of sequenced steps organized around a topic or theme, which educators may recognize as curriculum materials repackaged in new vernacular. To one extent, what sets playlist design apart from traditional curriculum development are the underlying technologies that can optimize the delivery of blended, self-directed, self-paced, personalized, and connected learning. It can be a way to scale curriculum materials by linking them to an interface and functionality designed to optimize vectors for discovery and progression. Recommending and finding, curating and sharing — these are all functionalities that make playlists synonymous with 21st century music, and these affordances can be applied to learning and learning communities.

Just as music playlists have changed the way people find, explore, discover, curate, share, and listen to music, there is potential for these same technologies to have a similar impact on the way people experience learning, especially at scale. Designed thoughtfully and with intention, playlists and playlist systems can do something that is perhaps greater than the sum of their parts: they can conceptualize learning processes and pathways that ultimately lead to expertise development in all manner of subjects and topics.

On the design side, someone — an expert, a teacher, a mentor, an educator, an enthusiast — thinks about what a learner needs to know in order to progress, and sequences the steps in “chunks” that can “fork” and “branch” across related themes, or guide the learner more deeply into a favorite topic.  The aim is to guide a progression that is ideally configured to compel interest and deeper engagement in an area, whether it’s Euclidean geometry or how to mod in Minecraft.

This is the challenge for playlist designers: to think thoughtfully and intentionally about what a learner needs at any given step, the size of that step, the kinds of supports needed, how many tasks are necessary, how much instruction to give, what resources to include, how much social interaction vs. how much technology, how (and whether) to assess, how to maintain engagement. In other words, how to dynamically scaffold and scale learning that balances technology with social inputs, automation with agency, exploration with curation, and local experiences with global.

The Playlists for Learning Challenge is an invitation to think together about new design affordances and constraints in this new take on learning at scale, and how to design high-quality local experiences so that a larger global audience may benefit from the same opportunities. What prior research can guide us in this space? What will designers learn about the process? How do educators experience the process of implementing playlists? What feedback will learners have for us? We hope you’ll join the conversation and be part of this new initiative.

The Playlist for Learning Challenge application window opens April 4 and closes May 13, 2016. To learn more, visit

Press Play to Connect Learning| LRNG’s Early Release Demo

March 10, 2016

As mentioned in the DML 6 details for the Playlists for Learning challenge, is one of the earliest adopters of learning playlists, and the leader in adapting them for connected learning. DML Competition 6 requires that playlists be compatible with the LRNG platform, so for those wanting to learn more, below is a recent webinar featuring Tim Cook as he highlights some of the functionality discussed in LRNG’s early release demo.

LRNG Early Release Demo

To recap from DML 6, a connected learning playlist is a curated group of digital and local connected learning experiences and resources (e.g. videos, websites, books, games, articles, etc.). A playlist weaves together these learning experiences into a sequenced pathway centered on a common theme. Playlists broaden opportunities to engage in cohesive, interest-driven connected learning experiences that combine in-school, out-of-school, employer-based, and online learning. A powerful tool for scale, they increase access to opportunities for all and bring transformative change to youth, especially those locked out of traditional paths to success.

By connecting the dots across digital and local spaces, connected learning playlists enable young people to easily find and pursue fun and engaging learning experiences that cross traditional institutional silos and curricula. Just as iTunes or Spotify playlists allow users to easily remix content across albums, connected learning playlists offer similarly personalized learning experiences.

The power of playlists lies in the opportunity for collaboration and discovery. One organization can design a sequence based on it’s own specific goals; multiple providers may want to work together to include many types and sources of learning. These collaborative playlists create a rich network of experiences for learners. As more and more playlists are built on shared distribution platforms, the connections across all learning experiences will increasingly form part of an expansive network of learning.

Announcing DML Competition 6: $700,000 learning playlists challenge announced today: designed to scale connected learning

March 7, 2016

AUSTIN, TX – March 7, 2016 – The University of California Humanities Research Institute (UCHRI), with support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, today announced a $700,000 open international challenge to scale connected learning through innovative learning playlists that close the opportunity gap and help learners succeed in today’s connected world. The interdisciplinary alliance HASTAC will help to administer the competition on behalf of UCHRI. Applications are due May 13, 2016.

The 6th Digital Media and Learning Competition– Playlists for Learning– will offer 9 months development grants ranging from $25,000 to $125,000. Winning teams will design connected learning playlists that provide viable alternatives to traditional learning pathways while scaling experiences and content to diverse local and digital audiences. Winners will become part of an innovative community of thought-leaders, academics, practitioners, educators, designers, technologists, and media artists that are leading the transformation of curriculum design and learning for the connected age.

“Over a decade, MacArthur has invested over $200 million in research and design experiments to explore how digital media are changing the way young people learn, play, socialize and participate civically, and to understand what this means for education. These efforts have provided evidence that a new pedagogy called connected learning is an effective approach to preparing youth for the challenges of today’s world,” said Jennifer Humke, Senior Program Officer at MacArthur. “This competition is designed to bring the most promising connected learning programs and prototypes to youth across the country, and to help transform the way learning is organized and supported, especially for often marginalized young people in cities and beyond.”

Learning playlists offer a powerful innovative possibility for ensuring that young people from all backgrounds have the learning opportunities to thrive in our robustly connected age,” added David Theo Goldberg, director of the University of California Humanities Research Institute.

Connected learning knits together academics, passions, and interests in ways that meaningfully advance learning and opportunities for youth. A connected learning playlist is a curated group of digital and local connected learning experiences and resources (e.g. videos, websites, books, games, articles, etc.) that are woven together into a sequenced pathway centered on a common theme. They broaden opportunities to engage in cohesive, interest-driven connected learning experiences that combine in-school, out-of-school, employer-based, and online learning.

Join the conversation on Twitter using #DMLplaylists.