Supporting Civic and Cultural Institutions With New Media Practices

“Learning simply looks different today. Digital media are not only changing how young people are accessing and consuming new knowledge, but they are extending the classroom to more informal and unconventional spaces, such as libraries, museums and even online communities. These institutions need to adapt to this new environment.” -- MacArthur Vice President Julia Stasch.

This Fall, Global Kids received support from the MacArthur Foundation to expand the capacity of civic and cultural institutions to use virtual worlds, as well as other emerging forms of digital media like digital games and social media, as innovative educational platforms that engage youth in learning and promote youth civic participation.

Through this grant, over the next two years, Global Kids will undertake three models for capacity building:

The Edge Project
Pilot eight short-term demonstration projects that engage youth and focus GK's capacity-building efforts with established civic and cultural institutional partners including the New York Public Library, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Field Museum, Jail North, and MOUSE Squad.

Virtual World Capacity Building Program
Facilitate a seasonal series of remote trainings in the use of virtual worlds provided to a group of 15-20 civic and cultural institutions, such as Facing History and the International Center for Transitional Justice.

General Capacity Building
Support the general public to learn more about virtual worlds and learning through, about Global Kids lessons and projects in development at, and about the work within this grant at

This project is informed by the work and ideas of a wide range of MacArthur grantees whose work we have closely followed over the years and, occasionally, had the honor of being part of: James Paul Gee (games-based learning, 21st Century Assessment, worked examples), Henry Jenkins (new media literacies, participatory learning), Mimi Ito ("hanging out, messing around, and geeking out"), the GoodPlay Project (youth and ethics online), and Lance Bennet (engaged citizenship).

We hope that Global Kids' unique experience and extensive work in developing youth-focused digital media programs will inform the field with practical models for organizations interested in how youth learn with and through digital media. We look forward to exploring the challenges of applying the academic to the practical, sharing each step along the way as we assess the impact of our short-term trainings and the demonstration projects on the civic and cultural institutions that are reached.

Read more about the Edge Project and the Virtual World Capacity Building Program in the two related blog entries.