Winners Announcement

Playlists for Learning Challenge

$700,000 Awarded for Development of Innovative Connected Learning Playlists

Irvine, CA – The Playlists for Learning Challenge, the sixth and final Digital Media and Learning Competition, has awarded eleven winning projects a total of $700,000. Winning projects will scale connected learning content* and experiences to diverse local and digital audiences through the development of innovative learning playlists** that close the opportunity gap and help learners succeed in today’s connected world.

Winners include youth-serving institutions, non-profit organizations, museums, libraries, school systems, and universities committed to developing and scaling connected learning playlists that can provide viable pathways to higher education and employment. Representing diverse approaches to connected learning, winning projects engage youth through a wide range of issues. These include digital citizenship, creative career readiness, urban agriculture, environmental science, computer programming, music, arts, and other interests highly relevant to youth and life-long learners.

Winning projects were evaluated by a panel of interdisciplinary thought leaders. They were selected for their embodiment and advancement of connected learning principles; the collabo- rative and scaling opportunities they provided; the opportunities offered to learners; and their ability to develop meaningful learning communities that empower and support learners. Winners will receive between $14,000 and $100,000 each to develop their projects over the course of a year. The Playlists for Learning Challenge winners are:

Art & Science of Vision

Balboa Park Online Collaborative
San Diego, CA, USA

Spearheaded by San Diego’s renowned Balboa Park, the Art & Science of Vision playlist will provide learners ages 13 and older with vision and optics-themed interactive learning expe- riences from the Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego Air & Space Museum, and Reu- ben H. Fleet Science Center.

Creative Careers

Urban Arts Partnership
New York City, NY, USA

Leveraging experiences and resources that harness real world transformative opportunities, Creative Careers playlists will guide passionate young people from under-resourced com- munities to develop technical skills and creative competencies necessary for success in 21st century creative careers.


Chicago Architecture Foundation
Chicago, IL, USA

As a learning pathway for and the National Design Competition, Design Launch will enable design novices to become familiar with the design process, work through two design challenges, and gain the skills, expertise and confidence to enter the National Design Competition with solutions that respond to real-world challenges.

Digital Citizenship Learning Playlists

Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University
Cambridge, MA, USA

Co-designed with youth participation, Digital Citizenship Playlists will combine learning ex- periences and multimedia content related to privacy, safety, creative expression, and infor- mation quality to help youth understand and apply digital literacy skills that foster responsi- ble and informed digital citizenship.

Fleet Farming

Playground City
Orlando, FL, USA

Fleet Farming is a bicycle-powered playlist that will encourage youth to dig into their neigh- borhood food environment by replacing lawns with lush farms. Learners will fine-tune tal- ents in digital media, bike mechanics, food justice, and cooking. They will unlock new oppor- tunities to engage with community professionals and civic leaders that can lead to pathways to higher education and employment.

My City, My Place

Providence Public Library
Providence, RI, USA

My City, My Place is a tourism-focused playlist that will integrate history, technology, and career skill development. Youth will develop skills in community assets research; digital pho- tography and videography instruction; video/website production and presentation; market- ing and promotional strategy development. As part of their learning pathways, youth will also participate in mock interviews and job shadowing with industry professionals.
Pittsburgh Galleries Project

Pittsburgh Galleries Project

Avonworth High School
Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Pittsburgh Galleries Project museum curation playlist will provide learners the opportunity to work alongside museum and gallery professionals to plan, design, and create their own artistic exhibit at their school or community-based organization. In completing the playlist, youth will earn unique insights into the design process and potential artistic careers. They will gain creativity and crucial skills in program management, budgeting, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication.

Sandboxes for Learning

National Writing Project
Berkeley, CA, USA

Sandboxes for Learning will convert the established Youth Voices connected learning cur- riculum, a collaboration between the National Writing Project and Educator Innovator net- works, into playlists with digital badges. Leveraging design workshops and after school programming, this playlist will engage youth involved in Youth Voices – an open blogging platform connecting students through their passions, questions, and conversations – to play-test and co-develop new connected learning pathways and opportunities.

SciGirls Code

SciGirls/Twin Cities PBS
St. Paul, MN, USA

SciGirls Code will develop four playlists leveraging digital badges that focus on e-textiles and wearable tech; robotics; mobile geospatial technologies; and computational thinking. These playlists will increase girls’ exposure to different aspects of computer science; share how the coding process is used to solve problems; provide confidence-building opportuni- ties to design, code, and debug their own computer science projects; and connect girls with female computer science role models.

Sky, Water, Earth

University of British Columbia
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Sky, Water, Earth will design playlists that evoke a sense of wonder about the planet and beyond through explorations in marine biology, earth, and space sciences. The playlists will engage multiple levels of experiences of four broad themes: extreme environments, water, sustainability, and new discoveries. Learners will develop scientific knowledge; consider how scientists contribute to a multi-disciplinary understanding of our universe; develop commu- nication, networking, self-assessment and critical thinking skills; and unlock opportunities to share their growing expertise to their communities.

Sound Explorations: Creating, Expressing, and Improving Communities

Arizona State University
Tempe, AZ, USA

Sound Explorations will bring together music educators, community youth organizations, artists, and youth to create a set of six interconnected learning playlists. These include cod- ing and programming music; making beats; building instruments and interfaces; producing music; connecting music and culture; and jamming. Learning experiences will emphasize creativity and self-expression while fostering musical inquiry, deepening musical skills and understandings, and strengthening participants’ sense of selves as musical people who make a difference.

“MacArthur has invested more than $200 million over the past decade to reimagine learning for today’s fast-paced, technology-enabled world,” said Jennifer Humke, Senior Program Officer at the MacArthur Foundation. “These winning projects represent some of the most innovative programming to engage youth in learning – both in and out of school. Support to develop playlists will enable the winners to scale their connected learning experiences to youth nationally, creating more opportunities for more youth to engage in learning that prepares them for success in the classroom, workplace, and their communities.”

“In this, the final DML Competition,” said David Theo Goldberg, DML Competition and UCHRI Director, “we are continuing the Competition tradition of supporting development of innovative platforms and tools to advance connected learning. Learning playlists enable the design of sequenced learning content. They dramatically expand need- and capacity-based learning, enabling learners of all ages to develop knowledge across any domain beyond their existing levels. The Playlists for Learning Challenge will advance this vision for capacitated learning.”

*Connected Learning

Connected learning is a transformative pedagogical approach knitting 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.

**Learning PlayList

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 for Learning is supported through a grant from the MacArthur Foundation to the University of California, Irvine, in support of the University of California Humanities Research Institute and HASTAC, which jointly administer the Competition. For more information, visit


Mandy Dailey, HASTAC and the Digital Media and Learning Competition

About the John d. and Catherine t. MaCarthur Foundation

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports creative people, effective institutions, and influential networks building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. MacArthur is placing a few big bets that truly significant progress is possible on some of the world’s most pressing social challenges, including over incarceration, global climate change, nuclear risk, and significantly increasing capital for the social sector. In addition to the MacArthur Fellows Program, the Foundation continues its historic commitments to the role of journalism in a responsible and responsive democracy; the strength and vitality of our headquarters city, Chicago; and generating new knowledge about critical issues. Learn more at


The University of California Humanities Research Institute oversees all aspects and administration of the DML Competition. UCHRI is the systemwide humanities institute supporting research in the human sciences across all 10 UC campuses and is the home to the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub.

about hastac

HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory) is an open alliance of more than 14,000 humanists, artists, scientists, and technologists working together to change the future of learning.

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