Blog Post

Recap: DML Trust Challenge Workshop @ DML 2015 Conference

On June 11, the 10 DML Trust Challenge grantees met for our first face-to-face workshop at the DML 2015 Conference is Los Angeles, California. Over the upcoming year, we’ll be reporting out on some of the exercises we’re working on as a group. In this post, we’ve gathered together the responses to three questions that are being workshopped into an infographic by Arthi Krishnaswami and her team working on RyeCatcher Family Trust Network.

Q1: How does your project change or contribute to the narrative around trust in the larger conversation?

Building Connected Credentials: Connected Learning requires that players within a student's personal learning ecology value one another's contributions and can assess and validate them properly. But fundamental distrust exists between the varied players—schools, industry and informal learning organizations—when it comes to believing that learners are adequately equipped with the skills and knowledge required to apply what they've learned in other settings. Building Connected Credentials addresses this gap in assessment, knowledge and trust by seeking to create a portfolio of co-designed assessments and rubrics that make skills transparent and provide ecosystem players with feedback.

Code, Compose, Collaborate: Implementation in rural-semi urban areas where connectivity is currently sparse but at the cusp of a complete explosion due to increased network accessibility and costs. The training in privacy and trust at gradually expanding levels allows a better awareness of the issues and impact.

In the workshop in India, we ran some theater group session to explain the idea of trust and privacy and the physical implementation worked better at explaining that than any online example could.

Digital Literacy Toolkit: To build and support trust in connected learning environments, we must empower learners, caregivers, and educators with the knowledge and skills to minimize and manage risks online. Our goal is that the resources we create in the “Digital Literacy Toolkit” will equip these stakeholders with some of the necessary tools to advocate on behalf of the learner, as well as to increase trust between educators and families.

Global Gateway: Building Trust Through Peer Review: Our platform ( is designed as a trusted inquiry-based learning environment in which teachers from around the world are engaged in experimentation and learning to develop as globally competent educators. An open feedback loop currently exists where teachers are creating learning products and self-reflecting as part of that process, but there is no feedback or collaboration external to the self-reflection.

The opportunity to build trust that our project seeks to address is creating structure for peer review that leads to deeper collaboration and mentoring relationships. The purpose of our entire platform is to support teacher autonomy and growth in this trustworthy space.

Gooru Trust Lab: The conversation is now amongst educators, learners, parents, and supporters, with the learner’s need in the center. Students have a voice & a seat at the table to determine how they learn best. Admin, teachers, parents input to actually implement safe practices online with students and guide education of digital citizenship.

MediaBreaker: Our project contributes to the larger discussion about trust by providing a safe space to experiment with fair use and the decorporatizion/deconstruction of media messages. Our project will also help teachers and students understand and practice fair use, as well as understand the difference between criticism and snark.

Open Badge Passport: The function of the Open Passport is to contribute to the development of bottom-up trust networks and the services that could be developed on the foundation of such networks. For that we adopt the radical position to treat Open Badges as "trust statements" and explore how such trust statements can be used 1) to create trust networks 2) to generate new types of services exploiting the metadata contained in large collections of Open Badges. What the Open Passport aims at achieving is to align technology to the discourse on trust, something very different from what has happened so far with the development of "distrust technologies." The Open Passport aims at being an authentic "trust technology."

OurNet: N/A

Resilience Network: Our project builds upon the fact that “trust” itself is complicated, because it depends on the specific community or performance of identity being engaged. This project aims to educate feminists in the public sphere about issues concerning digital life. We want to enable girls and women to preemptively take steps to ensure their control of their online identities and metadata. Part of understanding data management is understanding how algorithms, social sharing, and information retrieval works. Our publication will provide vetted tools for helping others both understand and teach others why proactive personal data management is a necessary part of digital life.

This project will highlight the efforts of organizations like Hollaback (, which is currently developing a peer system for documenting threats without requiring the involvement of the person experiencing the threat. We will point to DoubleUnion, a San Francisco-based “feminist hackerspace” whose members recently created the OpenDiversityData project ( that calls upon employers to make their employee demographics data more visible.  We will also be highlighting artivist  projects like Zero Trollerance (,

Deep Lab (, and Ms. Baltazar’s Laboratory ( as ways of pointing to humorous and playful responses to threats online.

We will provide access to resources that train girls and women to manage their own data.  By utilizing Scalar -- which supports branching pathways -- and the FemTechNet technical framework we will ensure that our digital publication and the component pieces will be preserved and accessible well beyond the scope of this grant. At our initial summit, we will also develop a data plan for our digital events to ensure that we foster safe conditions for those who want to combat anti-feminist violence. We have already begun to explore the possibilities for pseudonymous participation for those who have expressed fear about open, public participation.  FemTechNet has been part of the Connected Courses inititative ( and has a history of success with distributing labor and capitalizing on networks.

Ryecatcher Family Trust Network: The Family Trust Network is a platform that will put the family and student at the center of the network. It will empower families to understand and provide consent to the full scope of people, organizations, services, online networks, and other caregivers that are working with their children. It will put the learner at the center of the network, and give the learner the opportunity to bring together the various different learning experiences that are a part of their lives. The interactive tools and intervention-at-home action plans and resources will give parents and families a way into the process, and enable them to support, interact with, and positively empower their children to become a more active part of the learning experience.  

Q2: What challenges do you foresee as you implement your project, and what might others in the DML community be able to offer in the way of support or solutions?

Building Connected Credentials: When working with schools there is a priority given to school processes and methodologies. This project risks an over-emphasis on academic skills and school credit as the preferred way to assess outcomes for youth and ascertain the successful acquisition of skills. While this project asserts the importance and primacy of informal learning organizations in preparing youth with 21century skills, it is difficult to develop a trusted assessment and/or credential that has credibility across learning ecosystems players and spaces.

The DML community can provide examples of case studies, experiences and partnerships where partners and players have built cross-organizations or cross-sector assessments or credentials.

Code, Compose, Collaborate: We foresee facing many challenges in implementing our project such as language barriers, cultural differences among our identified sites, budget restraints, time commitments, and sustainability. In India, during our initial workshop session in May, we noticed great enthusiasm from the students in the school there and an eagerness to do more and push the workshops further. A major issue we need to address is existing faculty involvement so they can continue this as either part of the curriculum or as extra workshops. Since this is an inter-school program, it will be more challenging to find ways to make this work for faculty at each location, each with different interests and priorities. Localization of the workshops is key to the success of our project.

In a recent playtest in New York, we wanted to do some usability testing and participated in an annual event at Parsons called PlayTech. Overall, the scenario/implementation was successful in communicating the code structure by using code presets for notes, samples and synth and peak the interest of the youth at the event. The dynamic of the students varied based on group composition; although expected it was still useful to verify that kids who knew each other engaged more and became more competitive. The younger generation is less inhibited in experimenting, and the older group requires more warm-up before diving in—so curriculum and space for different levels/age groups is considered in the next round of workshops.

We also encountered a participant who had a music background, which created a special type of interest and engagement that we will include in our planning. A major issue that we may not be able to address at this phase is how to make the efforts sustainable on-site without the need for our continued presence and intervention in the future and continued funding externally.

Digital Literacy Toolkit: One challenge we foresee is increasing the implementation of our resources when they are released - we would be extremely grateful to the DML community if they could help us get the word out. Additionally, we’d love to talk to others in the community about what kinds of legal resources and needs they face.

Global Gateway: Building Trust Through Peer Review: Conceptually, we need to understand how to incentivize teacher participation, the "opting in" to a work conversation and review. Teachers in a punitive, top-down environment likely have experiences of non-constructive feedback; Institutional limitations have also created a skill gap in constructive critique — this creates a distrustful space. We are currently using small pilot program feedback, existing peer review research and other critique-driven community models to define user outcomes as our incentive foundation.

Our platform uses the Joomla CMS for infrastructure, and we are thrilled to partner with Little Bird Games, which will allow us to integrate our badging system and existing peer review models utilizing best practices in game design. We need to understand how best to create a collaborative workspace that interacts seamlessly with the existing community of practice, while also being able to plug in to another system.

Gooru Trust Lab:

Safe and social: How do we devise a safe and engaging learning environment that includes opportunities for beneficial social interactions? Currently, there are no great examples for social learning online.

Balancing act: How do we support teachers as they trust students to learn on their own? How do they strike a good balance between letting students explore on their own and providing limits/guidelines for safety?

Keeping up: How do we continually guide and support the education of safety and digital citizenship through grade levels as online social interactions, environments, and learning change? Students change year to year; we have to keep up with them with versatile solutions.

MediaBreaker: Major challenges include scale and adoption. How do we create and grow a tool designed for novices in the cloud, and how do we get people to adopt/integrate it.

Open Badge Passport: The Open Passport is based on an open architecture where everybody will be able to create and add their own apps (just as one adds apps to a smartphone). As a project, we will develop the core of the system to support the creation of trust networks and a few services exploiting the properties of those networks.

We have to face two main challenges: the adoption of the Open Passport by end users and the commitment of a community of developers to develop the services that will make the Open Passport worthwhile to end users. It's a kind of chicken and egg thing... Massive adoption of the Open Passport requires valuable services, services created by developers who will only commit if massive adoption becomes a reality.

So, beyond testing the Open Passport, the contribution of the DML community would be welcome to imagine and design the services one might expect from the exploitation of the boundless collection of metadata extracted from Open Badges in the context of education, employment, social integration, etc. How about the next generation of Linkedin- and Facebook-like services?

OurNet: N/A

Resilience Network:

  • Making sure that we reach intended audiences in the manner that protects their safety and effectively communicates message/ideas.
  • Coordinating work across a distributed network
  • Creating a compelling “skin” for the Scalar interface to help ensure the site is accessible, aesthetically appealing to many ages and demographics of users, and useful
  • Adjusting to the shifting landscape of safety/security-- new sites of struggle popping up; new issues arise everyday, such as ephemeral/persistent apps like Snapchat or Yik Yak popular with high school students. (Identifying experts that can provide this information)
  • Supporting our constituents diverse needs, which we hope to get from the Summit this summer.
  • Balancing our commitment to local solutions and networks with the need to have national-level resources
  • Ensuring high-quality materials for a number of different constituencies with a limited budget and time frame (k-12, adult, different subcommunities under the “feminist/women” label, including those who might not want to be under the label!)

Ryecatcher Family Trust Network: There are a few key challenges for the project, and the work in Trust in education, in general:

  • Building a solution that people really need. We are trying to figure out how technology can support and empower parents, families and students. Its not always a tech problem or solution that we need. We have found in our work over the past two years that fidelity of implementation due to difficulties of technology fitting into the daily work flow is a critical problem for adoption and effective use of the solution.

  • Getting the word out and sharing the solution with others is always a key challenge. The more people use the platform to connect and compile learning experiences, the better our understanding of what works will be.

  • Funding and advisory support for scalability and sustainability. In this nascent field, we need advise and counsel from experts in the technology, education, and other fields that have a significant trust component, e.g. healthcare, to ensure we are developing solutions that are effective, valid, scalable, and sustainable. These advisors could suggest partnerships, collaborators, and assist in planning for strategic growth.

Q3: What do you foresee the impact of your project will be once it is implemented (particularly in terms of the conversation around trust)?

Building Connected Credentials: We're still working through scenarios for possible outcomes but It is our hope to create a viable delivery and support system for a portfolio of high-quality applied learning activities (performance tasks as our school partners define) that can be done in school, out-of-school and at internship/employment sites. These will act as trusted assessments enabling the transparent sharing of skills and the creation and facilitation of meaningful cross-ecosystem assessments. The impact of this initiative would be the co-creation of projects and activities that could be done by anyone in a connected learning space, thereby leveling the playing field and creating a common language and equal value across partners.

If the above-mentioned scenario does not work, we have considered creating a small governing body of in-school educators that can validate and  assess quality out-of-school programs as exemplars of Hive Learning Network expertise in the teaching of 21c skills and technical competencies.

Code, Compose, Collaborate: The core student groups we are working with are from different regions across the world but barely any contact outside their community, physical or networked. This workshop series connects them to students in similar situations in a gradual and a fun approach, which should help imprint the lessons learned deeper in hopes to guide them as they further pursue their digital lives.

Digital Literacy Toolkit: Once it is implemented, our project’s foreseeable impact is that our resources will support the voices of stakeholders (families, educators, and young people) who are not heard often enough in the conversation around trust.

Global Gateway: Building Trust Through Peer Review: Our system will be built to be content-agnostic. The system could be applied to any adult-learner system, and the framework can be applied to other systems. Peer review is about co-construction of knowledge, iteration and improvement. Our intent is to develop a system that incorporates best practices, tools and resources for formative and summative feedback to effectively support collaboration and self- and peer-directed learning.

Gooru Trust Lab

The Pilot Program includes:

  • Students at Lakeside MS in VVUSD safely create and publish collections around digital citizenship and interest-driven topics
  • Larger awareness campaign in Val Verde district around digital citizenship using student-created collections
    • Students earn “digital driver’s license
    • Parent trainings in English and Spanish as well as additional classes throughout the year
    • Administrators exposed to digital citizenship collections and projects at principals’ meetings
    • District-wide awareness through district app
  • Product improvements
    • Improving Gooru to be a safe learning & creating environment students
    • Larger Gooru community can use new product features to empower student contributors
    • We’ll share the VVUSD story as a guideline for classroom/district initiatives
  • Sharing our approach
    • Of including students, parents, all stakeholders in devising a solution and fostering safety, an approach that we hope other edtech organizations and solutions will adopt

MediaBreaker: Our predicted/intended impact is for educators to have increased confidence in using copyrighted material in their classrooms, thereby opening up more tools for engagement and 21st-century education.

Open Badge Passport: Until now, most of the conversations around trust are linked to a specific domain, e.g. online sales (reputation on eBay), employment (endorsement on Linkedin) or security (protect privacy of medical records) etc.

The Open Passport could be a game changer. Not being linked to any specific domain or service (although initially based on Open Badges, the infrastructure is "service agnostic,"  i.e. it is not linked to education or accreditation systems), the Open Passport  is a pure trust building infrastructure, an enabler for building trustworthy services in many different domains, most of them probably outside of education and employment.

Being freed from being embedded in specific services (eBay, Linkedin, etc.) while enabling many services, including the reinvention of old ones  (eBay, Linkedin, etc.), the Open Passport will allow us to fully focus our conversations on trust as the fundamental currency for human interaction.

OurNet: N/A

Resilience Network

  • Clear lines of communication and support among women and feminists who engage in online writing and activism.
  • A strong archive of digital resources for community members, including
    • a set of best practices,
    • key terms glossary for violence online,
    • four video dialogues,
    • existing resources links, and
    • short how-to videos on online security and privacy.
  • Vetted tools for helping others both understand and teach others why proactive personal data management is a necessary part of digital life.
  • Support for users through our “open online office hours” and virtual teach-ins during our initial year of roll-out
  • While we will spend a good deal of time teaching people how to manage their own data, by utilizing existing Scalar and FemTechNet frameworks we can ensure that our digital “product” is in fact a living, constantly developing, responsive resource that will be accessible well beyond the scope of this grant

Ryecatcher Family Trust Network: Our project seeks to develop a Community of Trust in education. To do so, we will work on building the key artifacts that would be helpful in expanding the larger conversation around trust. We will build a platform, info-graphic and case study of the work. We will release an Open Source version of the platform that is easy to use for developers and educators. We seek partnerships with organizations that can utilize our services, in particular, those who would be able to undertake an iterative design approach so we can thoughtfully design and develop a solution that supports an ecosystem in education that is characterized by trust, privacy, and collaboration.


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