Something big is happening in Chicago. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has launched a first of its kind initiative, the Chicago Summer of Learning, encouraging youth to engage in more learning activities throughout the summer. The mayor’s office along with the MacArthur Foundation, Mozilla, the Digital Youth Network, University of Chicago and Hive Chicago has worked with over 100 youth serving organizations in the city to not only increase the learning opportunities but to issue digital badges to capture and recognize the learning taking place.
Youth can earn a series of badges that represent the skills and accomplishments from their summer activities. In addition to badging youth for learning in traditional summer programs, there are new opportunities to learn new skills through over a hundred online activities and challenges.
‘The Challenge’ is a social learning network powered by the iRemix Platform where Chicago youth can access a community of digital mentors, online challenges and other youth creators. The Challenge is free and open to any young person in Chicago that decides to participate in the Chicago Summer of Learning. Participants must first complete a few entry level activities, earning enough badges to ‘level up’ to The Challenge community.
Once inside of the social learning network, youth can choose from over 30 learning pathways ranging from app development, game design, 3D design, video editing, photography and much more. These pathways consist of a series of challenges and resources developed by a number of learning organizations: the Digital Youth Network, Hive Chicago, Chicago Architecture Foundation, Creativity Labs at Indiana University, MIT and more.
As participants complete pathways, they earn badges to represent the skills gained as well as build a portfolio of the artifacts that they create along the way. The community space allows participants to view the work of other youth as well as get feedback and support from expert mentors.
The partnership with the Chicago Summer of Learning is also an amazing opportunity for us to introduce iRemix’s exciting new Pathways functionality. We’re extremely excited to roll out pathways as a more powerful way for delivering learning content to participants in an iRemix social learning network. Networks can use pathways to allow youth to independently engage in challenges at their own pace or as a part of a structured class or workshop. iRemix learners are still learning by doing as they create digital media projects, collaborate, give and receive feedback, engage in rich discussions and more. With pathways though there is a richer framework for attaching resources and providing targeted supports, making learning trajectories visible, tracking how users are progressing, giving more direct feedback on learner submissions as well as scaffolding learning by connecting related pathways.
We are excited to begin making pathways available to iRemix network this fall. If you’d like to explore the potential of social learning networks powered by online challenges and badges, let us know!