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Chicago Launches Largest Citywide Summer Learning Effort

More than 140 community organizations have pledged to work with the city of Chicago this summer in what has been labeled the "largest coordinated summer learning effort in the country," according to a release from the mayor's office.

The new effort, dubbed the "Summer of Learning" initiative, brings in partners ranging from city agencies to the YMCA to public libraries, that have agreed to coordinate learning opportunities for the city's students, with a particular focus on STEM learning. In addition, the city hopes to reach out to parents to promote awareness of local resources they can use to help their children remain active and learning over the summer months, the release says.

The new project also includes a digital badging component that enables participating students to receive digital recognition for their summer learning, reported to be the first citywide use of digital, or open, badges. Students will be awarded a digital badge for learning acquired through field trips, creation of special projects, and new skills that can be later connected and applied to their school day/year learning. (The MacArthur and Mozilla Foundations will support the badging component of the project.

"Badges will support, encourage, and recognize the learning Chicago's kids do outside the classroom this summer," said Connie Yowell, director of education at the MacArthur Foundation, in the release. "Research has demonstrated that badges may provide the incentives and pathways needed to promote lifelong learning."

As you may remember, I wrote a story about the Providence After-School Alliance's digital badging initiative with the local district, where students are able to participate in out-of-school learning and coursework that gains them both digital badges and high school credit.

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