Cities of Learning

Cities of Learning

In an increasingly complex world, today’s youth need learning that is powerful and relevant. Major cities across the nation are rising to that challenge by becoming Cities of Learning, helping youth from all backgrounds gain access to rich learning experiences and earn digital badges to document their new knowledge and skills.

Chicago launched the Cities of Learning movement in 2013 with a successful summer program that networked more than 100 organizations and served more the 100,000 students. Chicago is now a City of Learning year round, and this year the initiative is expanding to Columbus, Dallas, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, and Washington, DC. Additional cities are making plans to launch in 2015.

Digital badges: Recognizing learning wherever it happens

Cities of Learning participants need more than a certificate or trophy to maximize the impact of their achievements. They must be able to make their new skills and knowledge visible in a real and useful way. That’s why Cities of Learning will employ digital badges, a sophisticated new tool that can document learning wherever it is acquired.

Badges can embed layers of in-depth, verifiable information about specific skills and knowledge and where and how they were acquired. Cities of Learning will use the Mozilla Foundation’s Open Badges platform to issue badges and safely store them in a secure “backpack” online. Youth can choose to share their badges with friends, schools or potential employers to showcase their achievements.

Equally importantly, badges awarded by each City of Learning will be networked across participating organizations. Learners can hopscotch from one institution to another, “leveling up” to follow their interests. Each badge earned will lead to recommendations for other opportunities to broaden or deepen skills.

Cities of Learning is an organic movement, with each city providing local funding and logistical support. Nationally, it receives support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Badge Alliance, and DePaul University.

To learn more about the Cities of Learning, watch the video below.