December 5 brought good news to some 60 institutions and organizations all dedicated to developing new opportunities for children to learn anytime and anywhere. These museums, research centers, and innovation companies were all named Stage One winners of the Badges for Lifelong Learning Competition.

A Pittsburgh Connection

Among the 60 Stage One winners was Pittsburgh’s own Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy, in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh’s Learning Research and Development Center, DARPA, LEGO, National Instruments, Robomatter Inc., Autodesk and other partners.

Led by Director Robin Shoop, the Robotics Academy proposal hopes “to significantly increase the number of students pursuing Computer Science, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (CS-STEM) careers.” The Robotics Academy team proposes to do this through the Computer Science Student Network (CS2N), a new learning environment that tracks student progress on lessons and activities that combine online tutoring and in-class tasks. As students achieve goals in developing their understanding and abilities, they earn incremental approval badges that can add up to badges recognizing subject mastery.


As students’ gain greater aptitude in CS-STEM concepts, they can begin developing  job-ready skills by using industry standard software to complete projects in CS2N. Instructors, too, can achieve badges demonstrating their pedagogical proficiency in teaching CS-STEM Subjects.

Read more about the Robotics Academy entry on their DML Competition project page.

About the Competition

Supported by a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, administered by HASTAC, the online consortium of new media creatives, and held in collaboration with the Mozilla Foundation, Badges for Lifelong Learning is part of the 4th Digital Media and Learning (DML) Competition.

The Badges competitions “is designed to encourage the creation of digital badges and badge systems that support, identify, recognize, measure, and account for new skills, competencies, knowledge, and achievements for 21st century learners wherever and whenever learning takes place.”

While Stage One focused on developing learning opportunities that could use the Badges approach to measuring achievement, Stage Two will seek proposals for designing systems to deploy Stage One program ideas. Stage Two opens for submission on December 12, 2011 with a deadline of January 12, 2012.

Stay up to date on these and other exciting initiatives online at