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Update on Badges for Learning and Global Kids' Reports 

Earlier this week I spent two days at the Digital Media and Learning Badge Workshop in New York City. It was a tremendously stimulating and useful session.

First of all, it was remarkable to hear how much is going on right now around badges as a form of alternative assessment and learning. Carnegie convened a meeting late last year and Gates/MacArthur held one last week (in which top game designers taught top assessment researchers what they knew). The MacArthur learning networks, at the national and local level, is interested in exploring badges, as is a number of government agencies. Things, clearly, are happening.

At the same time, I ended up facilitating a session to map the history of badges and learning, in large part because I know so little about this and wanted to learn more. It became clear that while badge systems have been in use for some time (by the scouts, military, judo practitioners, etc.), research on their educational effects and current examples are hard to find.

Passport to Nigeria Begins! 

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(left) Torso of a king. Wunmonije Compound, Ife. Early-mid-16th century C.E. Copper alloy. © National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Nigeria. Photo courtesy Museum for African Art/Fundación Botín. (right) Head with crown. Wunmonije Compound, Ife. 14th-early 15th century C.E. Copper alloy. © National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Nigeria. Photo courtesy Museum for African Art/Fundación Botín. (Photos: Karin L. Willis)

Last week was the beginning of “Passport to Nigeria,” a program in partnership with the Museum for African Art that explores the country of Nigeria using the Museum’s exhibition and education-related materials as well as digital media.

Youth Committee to Design Game Jam  

dmya.jpg The New Youth City Learning Network (NYCLN), a network of New York institutions that helps young people find, explore, and connect different interest-driven and civic-minded learning opportunities beyond the classroom, is developing a Youth Committee that will launch in February 2011.

As a member of the Network, Global Kids will be helping to plan the Youth Committee, along with several other members such as the American Museum of Natural History, the Museum for African Art, and the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. Students who are part of the Committee will act as technology advisors to the Network, attend game jams or hackasaurus projects, and then plan a day-long Game Jam for youth in May 2011!

Teen Second Life is Dead; Long Life Mixed-Age Second Life 

Almost three years ago, residents of the youth-only Teen Second Life held a protest march, walking (and flying) en masse across all teen public lands. Their slogans and placards reflected demands which only make sense in the context of a virtual world: grid merger, which is to say, eliminate the teen grid by combining it with the adult-only main grid. Merge the economies. Merge the social space. Merge the properties. When Linden Lab, the producers of the virtual world Second Life, announced last Fall they would be closing Teen Second Life, they offered just that in return, a grid merger, in which older youth, their avatars and properties, would be transferred to the main grid.

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Barry's main grid avatar standing with Terrence Linden on GK's TSL island, for the first time

I've already spoken about how disappointed I am at the closing of Teen Second Life, now that it occurred this past weekend. But what I'd like to do now is reflect on the potential, and perils, of the grid merger, written before it occurred.

A 6-Year-Olds Perspective on Playing Ayiti... 

Even years after its launch, we are still delighted to see, week after week, examples of how people find Ayiti: The Cost of Life useful for developing a broader awareness of global issues. The following, however, is most unusual, as it describes the experience of a 6 year old! Thank you to Ching-fu Lan for sending it over.

You can read the original post on Columbia University's EdLab blog, or below:

Talking about Virtual Worlds for 2011 BAVC Producers Institute  

Producers Institute for New MediaLast Saturday, I had the honor of addressing an audience of about 150 documentary makers and new media experts at the Tribeca Film Center on the subject of virtual worlds and new forms of storytelling.  It was part of the awesome Producers Institute for New Media Technologies, a two-week long crash course for documentary filmmakers on integrating digital media and storytelling, organized by the nice folks at the Bay Area Video Coalition

Appreciative Words From a GK Alum 

Nafiza Akter, a GK alum currently in college, recently sent us an email which she said we could share here, describing the impact Global Kids has had on her life:

This Saturday, January 8, I will be presenting at a conference on the intersection of documentary filmmaking and new media as part of the Producers Institute for New Media Technologies. Sponsored by the Bay Area Video Coalition, the Producers Institute brings together up-and-coming documentary filmmakers with specialists in digital media for a two-week intensive camp focused on developing next generation storytelling tools and products.

On January 8, there will be a public Conference Day held at Tribeca Cinemas featuring panel discussions and presentations on emerging tools and platforms that are changing the face of filmmaking and empowering social change movements around the world. I will be speaking in the afternoon on virtual worlds, along with an impressive panel talking about mobile tech, gaming, augmented reality, and many other cool tools for activists and documentarians.

For more details and to register to attend, see the BAVC website.

Thanks and Farewell to Global Kids 

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This is my final blog post as a staff person at Global Kids. In a few weeks, I am moving back to my hometown in Bay Area California in order to be closer to my family and pursue other interests.

After three years at Global Kids, I thought it would be useful to recap how I came to Global Kids and what I've accomplished in that time and what working here has meant to me.

Read on for all the juicy details... 

"A Teen Free Zone"

It was December of 2007, a few days before Christmas, and the company that I was working for had decided my services were no longer needed.  It looked to be a pretty bleak holiday for me.

And then I got a text message from Barry Joseph saying that he wanted to talk.

GKid Teengrid Transfer Open Forum (22)

Here is a report on the Youth Forum on the Teen Grid Merger that Global Kids held yesterday afternoon on Global Kids Island.  It was a fun and insightful conversation with twenty or so excited avatars, most of whom had never been involved in Global Kids programs before, as far as I could tell.