SAN FRANCISCO, March 5, 2012 — Youtopia is thrilled to announce that it is a winner in the fourth annual Digital Media & Learning Competition. Youtopia is one of just thirty winners chosen from a pool of several hundred applicants. The competition links designers, entrepreneurs, technologists and educators with leading industry organizations to build digital badge systems and explore the ways badges can be used to help people learn, demonstrate skills and knowledge, and unlock job, educational, and civic opportunities. The competition is held in collaboration with Mozilla Foundation, supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and administered by HASTAC.

Youtopia is a Chicago-based online platform that tracks, validates, and rewards social good with the latest gamification technology. Youtopia won for their proposal for a Youth Digital Filmmaker Badge System with the School District of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Youth Network. This entails building a dynamic online badge system to reward, track, and offer incentives to a pilot group of high school students with a passion for digital filmmaking. The badge system will allow students to earn English Language Arts core credits and market their skills to employers, academic institutions and peer communities. “The use of film provides students an opportunity to explore their creative expression and produce works that reflect their unique perspectives on content, concepts and issues,” said Harvey Chism, V.P. of Education Initiatives at Philadelphia Youth Network.  “It encourages student voice, culminates in works that can be shared with others, and integrates technical expertise with academic content and constructive learning experiences that increase student engagement.”

Philadelphia’s 260 schools serve over 140,000 students making it the eighth-largest school district in the country and an ideal testing ground to develop a model for nation-wide adoption. “Our Youth Digital Filmmaker Badge System is exciting because it encourages and rewards a rigorous process of production for students. We hope to see our youth engage as filmmakers to share their voice, knowledge, and skills,” said Grace Cannon, Director of Proficiency Based Pathways for the School District of Philadelphia.

With this win, Youtopia is poised to become a key contributor in the development of Mozilla’s Open Badge Infrastructure (OBI). The OBI is an open source platform that will offer a “digital badge backpack” for learners to collect and display their badge credentials. Traditional measures of achievement, like high school diplomas, GEDs and college degrees do not adequately convey the full range of knowledge and skills that students and workers master. Badges recognize that learning happens everywhere and at every age. “We believe digital badges have the power to unlock the full educational potential of the Web. Our goal is to provide a free and open infrastructure that today’s award winners—and any organization or learning community in the world—can use to easily issue and share badges across the Web. This will empower learners to take charge of their online identity and reputation, gathering badges from any site on the Internet and combining them into a single story about what they know and what they have achieved,” said Mark Surman, executive director of Mozilla.

Youtopia has also partnered with Badgeville, a gamification, social networking, reputation, and behavior analytics platform. “We are proud to be powering the gamification experiences within Youtopia’s award-winning DML entry,” said Kris Duggan, CEO of Badgeville. “The opportunities to use gamification techniques across experiences in education and social good causes showcases the industry’s growing sophistication and ability to drive meaningful and sustained behavior change. Youtopia is one of a few innovative companies that are at the forefront of the gamification for good movement.”

This award from the DML Competition acknowledges both Youtopia’s commitment to creating pathways for lifelong learning and their emergence as an innovator in the digital media learning sphere. “We’re humbled to be acknowledged and to sit at the table with impassioned innovators. Youtopia stands at the forefront of 21st-century learning and it’s a privilege to provide the platform from which stories will be told. We’re excited to incite the creative process in the City of Brotherly Love,” Youtopia’s CEO Simeon Schnapper said after the MacArthur Foundation announced the award. “One word – Cheesesteak Badge.”

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Youtopia is a Chicago-based company that tracks, validates, and rewards all social good with the latest online gamification technology. For more information, log on to www.youtopia.com

The MacArthur Foundation supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. In addition to selecting the MacArthur Fellows, the foundation works to defend human rights, advance global conservation and security, make cities better places and understand how technology is affecting children and society. The Digital Media and Learning Competition is part of MacArthur’s $85 million digital media and learning initiative, which aims to determine how digital media are changing the way young people learn, play, socialize and participate in civic life. More information is at http://www.macfound.org/learning.

Mozilla is a global, nonprofit organization dedicated to making the Web better. We emphasize principle over profit, and believe that the Web is a shared public resource to be cared for, not a commodity to be sold. We work with a worldwide community to create open source products like Mozilla Firefox, and to innovate for the benefit of the individual and the betterment of the Web. The result is great products built by passionate people and better choices for everyone.

HASTAC (the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory) is an international network of educators and digital visionaries committed to the creative development and critical understanding of new technologies in life, learning, and society. HASTAC is committed to innovative design, participatory learning, and critical thinking. www.hastac.org

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CONTACT: Jacqueline Von Edelberg, Director of Strategic Partnerships

773.983.7430 | jacqueline@youtopia.com

English: HASTAC logo