1. General Questions

1.15 Will I be required to display my proposal to the public?

Portions of awarded applications will be posted publicly upon announcement of the awardees.

1.14 What is the Playlist for Learning timeline? What are the key dates and deadlines?

Please see the timeline.

1.13 Do applications have to be cross-institutional? Do I have to have outside collaborators to apply?

No. While we strongly encourage collaboration and partnering, it is not required. Your entire team may be from the primary applicant’s home institution/organization. Please note, however, that playlists must have utility beyond the applicant organization or institution. They must scale connected learning resources and opportunities to a broader audience.

1.12 What is a primary applicant? Who might be considered collaborators?

A Primary Applicant (PA) will be the project lead on Playlists for Learning project. He/she will be the first line of contact and will be responsible for disseminating information to the rest of the group. This person will be responsible for overall project management, including budget oversight. While an individual will be named as the primary applicant, a sponsor organization/institution will technically be the formal grantee by the terms of the award. As such, it must have legal status to operate and the necessary administrative structures in place to receive and administer grant funds.

Collaborators are additional persons from the primary applicant organization who are part of a team seeking funding and are managed by the primary applicant. Alternately, collaborators could be from a separate organization/institution partnering with the primary applicant’s organization/institution to carry out the work of the grant.

1.11 What is the target audience for learning playlists?

Ages 13 and up.

1.10 How can I learn more about digital badges and playlists as they pertain to LRNG?

Digital badges are encouraged to conform to the guidelines set forth in the LRNG handbook.

1.09 Do playlists have to result in a digital badge?

Yes. At a minimum, all playlists must result in a badge for any learner who completes a playlist.

1.08 What resources are available to help me as I develop my application and playlist?

For guidance on best practices when creating a playlist, see the LRNG handbook. In addition, applicants are encouraged to participate in an informational webinar sessions and/or technical office hours during the open application window. A schedule of informational events will be available on the Playlists for Learning blog.

1.07 Can my playlist be hosted on platforms in addition to LRNG?

Yes. We encourage cross-publication of winning playlists to additional platforms.

1.06 What does it mean for a playlist to be compatible with LRNG?

All winning playlists will be hosted on the LRNG site. Winning playlists must conform to the guidelines set forth in the LRNG handbook. As a term of their award, all winners will be required to sign a Master Services Agreement (MSA) related to LRNG services.

1.05 What is LRNG?

In October 2015, the Macarthur Foundation announced the launch of Collective Shift, a new nonprofit whose mission is to redesign social systems for the connected age. Collective Shift’s first project is LRNG, which is creating a 21st century ecosystem of learning that combines in-school, out-of-school, work-based, and online learning opportunities that are visible and accessible to all. LRNG 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.

1.04 Why are connected learning playlists a powerful tool for scale?

Playlists broaden opportunities to scale connected learning to local and digital audiences. They invite learners to engage in cohesive, interest-driven connected learning experiences that combine in-school, out-of-school, employer-based, and online learning.

The power of playlists lies in the opportunity for collaboration and discovery. One organization can design a sequence based on internal 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.

1.03 What are connected learning playlists?

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.

1.02 Why Playlists for Learning? What are the goals of Playlists for Learning?

Playlists for Learning seeks to scale connected learning through innovative learning playlists that close the opportunity gap for youth and help learners find viable alternatives to traditional learning pathways that help them succeed in the connected world we now inhabit.

Playlists for Learning invites participants to come together and create 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 our connected age.

1.01 What is Connected Learning?

Connected Learning is a pedagogy for the digital age that has emerged as a result of more than 10 years of research and design experiments funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. By connecting the three spheres of a learner’s life–academics, peer culture, and interests– it makes learning relevant to all populations, to real life and real work, and to the realities of the digital age, where the demand for learning never stops. For more information, see connectedlearning.tv.

2. Eligibility

2.10 Can more than one individual from the same institution apply?

Yes, multiple primary applicants from the same institution may apply, as long as the proposals are substantially different. In addition, members of a team (primary applicant and collaborators) can all be from the same institution.

2.09 I am already receiving funds from another source. Can I apply?

Yes, however, any award you receive from Playlists for Learning should be applied to the part of the project that is not being funded by other sources.

2.08 I am already receiving funds from the MacArthur Foundation. Can I apply?


2.07 I am a former Digital Media and Learning Competition winner. Can I apply?


2.06 Is there an age restriction?

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 and with appropriate parental or guardian consent.

2.05 Are there residency requirements?

We welcome applications from institutions/organizations and individuals with institutional affiliations from outside the U.S., provided that the primary applicant meets the eligibility requirements.

2.04 Why do I have to apply through an institution or organization? What are the expectations for institutional/organizational involvement?

The competition does not make awards to individuals. A formal affiliation with an organization/institution/entity is more likely to support an individual applicant in creating a solution for a specific real-world application and implementation, helping to create trustworthy, scalable, innovative, and transformative exemplars that can effectively scale connected learning.

In addition to institutional guarantees about meeting grant terms and conditions, financing, etc., the organization/institution is required to have the necessary institutional frameworks and buy-in to fully support and implement the project if approved. Also, if grant funds were to be awarded to the primary applicant directly, doing so would have significant tax liability, which could reduce the available grant money to be devoted to the project.

2.03 Are for-profit corporations eligible to apply?

For profit institutions and organizations are not eligible to apply as primary applicants, but are welcome to participate as a collaborator on a proposal submitted by an eligible institution or organization.

2.02 What type of institutions are eligible to apply?

Applicants may be affiliated with any institution, organization or entity that has legal status to operate, regardless of its size or the sector in which it operates. These might include:

  • Educational institutions such as community colleges, four-year colleges or universities
  • Nonprofit organizations with a 501(c) status
  • Museums
  • Libraries
  • Out-of-school programs
  • Youth-serving summer programs
  • Schools and school districts
  • Governmental and non-governmental organizations
  • Civic organizations
  • Municipalities
  • Other youth-serving institutions

2.01 Can individuals apply?

Primary applicants must have an institutional affiliation and make application through it. An institutional affiliation means a working connection to an institution or organization — place of employment, formal agreement with a non-profit, sponsoring university, etc. — that would administer the funding and official paperwork on behalf of the primary applicant.

3. Budget

3.03 What should be included in my formal budget?

What should be included in my formal budget?

Allowable expenses*:

  • personnel expenses such as staff work hours, personnel salary, travel expenses, etc.
  • project materials and supplies
  • technology costs, including software and hardware. Requests for funds to purchase durable supplies or equipment costing more than $20 per item must include a statement indicating where ownership of each item will reside once the purchase is made (individual or organization), and how the item is expected to provide continued benefit to the owner throughout the project development period
  • consultant fees, including legal, policy, educational, and technological consultants
  • costs associated with deployment, implementation, and communication of your proposed playlist project

*Limited funds will be awarded for new content creation. Expenses related to the creation of new content will only be funded when it is proposed in conjunction with an existing connected learning program and is intended to augment existing learning resources or experiences.

Required expenses include:

  • Awardees whose projects involve any human subjects research or testing are required to set aside funds for the review of an Institutional Review Board (IRB) to be approved by a commercial IRB.
  • Airfare (or other transportation), transfers, lodging and meals for one person for two days for two different winners’ events at major urban sites in the United States (to be determined).

Indirect costs:

Indirect costs will be permitted at a maximum of fifteen (15) percent ONLY if required in a published indirect cost policy by the primary applicant’s home institution or organization.

3.02 Should I request the maximum amount in the award category?

The amount requested should be the most feasible and suitable for the project. Judges will consider the appropriateness of the requested budget for the proposed project. The maximum award amount for a single proposal is $125,000.

3.01 When do I submit a budget for my Playlist for Learning application?

Applicants will be required to submit a standard Budget Spreadsheet and Budget Narrative as part of their initial application. All funded programs may be subject to financial audit.

4. Judging

4.04 When will awardees be announced?

Please see the timeline.

4.03 Will I be interviewed before the final decision is made?

No. Decisions will be made solely based on the application.

4.02 What criteria will the reviewers be using for evaluation?

Successful applications will:

Design experiences for learners that

  • focus more on passions, less on requirements;
  • emphasize knowledge formation, not knowledge transfer;
  • allow learners to choose their own learning paths;
  • create opportunities for collaboration; and,
  • promote discovery and unlock future opportunities.

Build learning communities and networks that

  • provide opportunities for youth to learn through relationships with their peers;
  • create meaningful interactions with a diverse community of mentors and experts;
  • challenge youth to engage with people and perspectives unlike their own; and
  • help youth develop their own identities and connect them with the identity of the community.

Empower learners by

  • using digital media and technology as a means of self-expression;
  • providing ways for them to publish the products of their learning;
  • encouraging them to address real-world problems;
  • allowing revision and improvement on their ideas over time; and
  • employing them as playlist testers and co-designers.

Unlock opportunities by

  • using each experience to move learners towards a specific new opportunity;
  • illuminating how experiences might connect learners to future career and learning paths;
  • imagining every learning experience as part of a bigger map of achievements; and
  • highlighting the rewards and new opportunities unlocked by each accomplishment.

Validate learning with badges that

  • define the knowledge, skills, or attributes being formed;
  • explain the type of evaluation or assessment employed;
  • clearly describe the proof or evidence that learners must submit;
  • outline who (i.e. self, peer, educator, expert, or system) will be assessing the proof;
  • indicate pathways through thematic playlists where applicable.

Applications will also be assessed on the following criteria:

Communication and implementation plan

  • offers a realistic implementation strategy and plan for engaging learners; and
  • includes a communications plan that allows for transparent documentation of playlist development process to foster public engagement and scalable learning opportunities

Plan and Budget

proposes a realistic budget that accurately reflects the scope of work and includes allowable expenses per the Playlists for Learning Terms and Conditions..

4.01 Who is judging Playlists for Learning?

A panel of expert judges from nonprofit and educational organizations will evaluate applications and select awardees.

5. Applying to the Digital Media and Learning Competition and using FastApps

5.09 What am I required to submit in the FastApps application? What will be visible to the public?

Applications must be submitted through the online FastApps system and will require the following items. Contact information, personal identification information, and budgets will not be made public. Please see our privacy policy for additional information.

  • an overview of the proposed playlist/s, including theme and learning objectives and outcomes;
  • a rationale for the importance of the playlist/s that takes into consideration DML Competition 6 criteria with an emphasis on how the playlist/s will scale connected learning;
  • a detailed description of all proposed playlist content and an indication of whether it is existing or to be developed with grant funds*;
  • a team roster and division of responsibilities;
  • budget and budget narrative;
  • proposed development process and timeline;
  • a description of local and/or global audiences currently served, and discussion of how this grant will enable you to broaden that reach;
  • preliminary implementation and communication strategy, including a plan for engaging organizational stakeholders and audiences who will use the playlist; and
  • an indication of how your proposal can be scaled.

*Limited funds will be awarded for new content creation. New content will only be funded when it is proposed in conjunction with an existing connected learning program and is intended to augment existing learning resources or experiences.

5.08 I forgot my password! What should I do?

You can reset your password by using the Reset Password process. An email will be sent with a link that you can follow to change your personalized password.

5.07 I didn’t get the account activation email. What should I do?

Please check your SPAM email folder. The activation email sometimes gets marked as SPAM.

You can trigger another activation email by using the Reset Password process. If your account is new and not yet activated, the process will generate an account activation email instead of a reset password email. It is necessary to click the activation link within the activation email before you can use your account.

Staff cannot activate your account because if you are unable to receive the initial activation email, future important system-generated emails such as submission confirmation or communications from program administrators may not reach you.

If you continue to not be able to receive system-generated email, please try to create another account using a different domain extension that does not use the same SPAM filtering mechanism.

5.06 What is the project logo image and what size should it be?

This is the image that will be used to represent your project in the list of submitted projects. It is the most visible method for visitors to identify your project. It typically helps with identification to have your project’s name in easily identifiable text, font, and colors so visitors can quickly identify it.

Project logos should be submitted as PNG files. The PNG should be transparent without a solid background color as it may be displayed on various web sites with different background colors.

5.05 Can I have multiple proposals if they have not been submitted yet?

No. Each FastApps account is limited to one (1) application for Playlists for Learning. This application should be in the account of the Primary Applicant for the application. Once an application has been created, you will not be able to create another application.

5.04 Will I be able to change my submission after I submit it?

Yes, you will be able to revise your proposal until the application window closes.

5.03 Can I start an application, save it and return for later editing?

Yes, applications can be saved and returned to for editing throughout the application window.

To prevent possible loss of work, we suggest developing your project’s description in a separate document and cutting it and pasting it into FastApps.

5.02 How do I create an account on FastApps?

  1. Go to FastApps and click the link that says “Create Account”.
  2. Provide your full name and email address where prompted and click “Create Account”.
  3. An activation email will be sent to the email address provided– sign in to your email account and open the Fastapps activation email.
  4. Then click the “Activate Account” link.

5.01 How do I apply to Playlists for Learning?

Please see How to Apply.

6. Post-Award and Fufillment

6.08 What happens to my playlist after the grant period? Are there fees associated with LRNG?

As part of their award, grantees will receive an 18-month complimentary membership to the LRNG platform and access to playlist functionality. At the end of 18 months, winning organizations/institutions can opt to either continue their membership, which will be subject to standard LRNG fees for program partners, or discontinue their membership without penalty.

6.07 Will taxes or indirect costs be applied to the amount received?

Taxes will not be withheld by HASTAC. Indirect costs will be permitted at a maximum of fifteen (15) percent only if documented by the primary applicant’s home institution or organization. Applicants’ budgets should allow for this.

6.06 How and when will the award be distributed?

Awardees will receive a check every three months, upon submission of an invoice for expenses incurred on the project, for the quarter.

6.05 Do I need to spend all of the money during the grant term? What if I do not?

Yes. Exceptions will be granted only in very unusual circumstances. Awardees should not assume extensions will be granted. If funds are not spent at the end of the grant term or permitted extension period, they must be returned.

6.04 Are there restrictions on how the money can be spent?

Yes, all funds are to be used specifically for the awarded project and according to proposed budget. Financial and narrative reports will be required every three months throughout the grant period. Institutions administering the grant will have to keep a financial record of grant expenditures.

6.03 How long is the grant term?

The grant term is nine (9) months beginning on the date of the award contract.

6.02 How will licensing and intellectual property of awardees’ projects be handled?

6.01 What are the responsibilities of the primary applicant?

The primary applicant will be the first line of contact and will be responsible for disseminating information to the rest of the group. This person will be responsible for overall project management, including budget oversight.