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MacArthur Foundation – Digital Media and Learning Initiative

At the cutting edge of digital media and learning, the MacArthur Foundation deeply understands that the way young people live, work, learn and play has changed thanks to increasing availability and accessibility of digital media. Seeking to understand how learning environments and institutions should respond to these changes, the MacArthur Foundation (the Foundation) launched the Digital Media and Learning (DML) Initiative in 2005. The DML Competition (the Competition), one component of the DML Initiative, identifies innovators and invests in prototypes of games, mobile phone applications, virtual worlds, social networks, digital badge platforms and more in support of connected learning. The Competition completed four cycles between 2007 and 2014, awarding over $10 million to individuals, universities, for-profit organizations and nonprofit organizations within and outside the United States.

In 2013, the Foundation engaged Informing Change to evaluate the DML Competition, assessing the Competition’s goals, processes and impacts on awardees, awarded projects, the DML landscape and the Foundation. Along with site visits and a review of relevant Competition and grantee documents, the mixed-methods evaluation incorporated interview and survey data collected from Foundation staff, HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory) staff who implement the Competition, Competition awardees and finalists and key field leaders.