Last week, a group of developers, designers, educators, programmers and learning innovators came together to hack for a better web. The Project:Connect hackathon, hosted by Facebook, MacArthur Foundation, the Family Online Safety Institute and Mozilla, kicked-off the fifth Digital Media & Learning Competition, to advocate for the innovative use of new media in support of connected learning.
At the event, nearly fifteen teams of professionals worked to create plans and prototypes for tools to enable a more equitable, social, and participatory internet.
We were proud (but far from surprised) to see that Hive NYC was in full effect. Representatives from City Lore, Exposure Camp, Global Kids, Institute of Play, Iridescent, MOUSE, New York Public Library and WNYC Radio Rookies were all in attendance, and spent the day iterating on new and existing ideas to help young people access and leverage the web for everything from building community support frameworks to gaining better information access in schools.
Teams quickly got into “less yak, more hack” mode. Large Post-it pads lined the walls as wireframes were drawn, domains were purchased and minimum viable prototypes were built. At the end of the day, each team had five minutes to present their pitch to a panel of judges that included: Cynthia Germanotta, co-founder of the Born This Way Foundation (also known as Lady Gaga’s mom); Chris Bevans, Founder of CBAtelier, creative director for Billionaire Boys Club and MIT Media Lab Fellow; Diana Rhoten, Chief Strategy Officer at Amplify; Anne Collier, safety expert, on the Facebook Safety Advisory Board and editor of NetFamilyNews.com; and Dave Steer, Manager of Policy Communications at Facebook.
Team Emoti-Con advocated for a youth-led campaign to advocate for blocked URLs at schools and libraries to provide greater access to students looking to leverage the web for conducting research and creating web-based media projects. A special bookmarklet would enable youth, parents, students and educators to submit URLs for review, and start a dialogue about which websites should be used for educational purposes.
Team Truth pitched a new web app called Cyberstoop, which calls upon local communities to help keep youth connected. Teens would enter their zip code to find local businesses willing to share their wi-fi during after school hours, providing greater opportunities for access to do homework or surf the web. Congratulations to this team for winning 3rd place in the Social Tools for Social Good category!
The That Could Be Your Sister team proposed a youth-led, virtual neighborhood watch on behalf of victims of sexual cyberbullying. This was the only team that had a high school student participate–big kudos to Temitayo for joining us! According to their prototype, a social media bookmarklet would be used to report images and videos that engage in “slut-shaming,” and micro-communities would rally to reach out and support victims. Click the image below to hear more about their pitch and the movement Temitayo and Radio Rookies have already started to build. Listen to the story that Temitayo and Radio Rookies produced for WNYC on the topic of sexual cyberbullying, check out their complete pitch presentation, and follow @couldbeyoursis on Twitter.
We’d like to congratulate all of the winners and everyone who participated! We look forward to sharing updates on how some of these projects continue to develop. Until then, let’s keep exploring ways to co-create experiences that help young people enhance their civic participation on the web!