Frequently Asked Questions

1. General Questions (11)

Why the Trust Challenge?

With the opportunities of connected learning comes the challenge to minimize risks, especially regarding issues of trust in constantly changing digital environments. In an open online world where commercial entities, hackers, schools, and even government can see and use our data, effective connected learning environments require systems, tools, and policies that engender trust in our tools, in the social environments that support them, and among networks of learners, parents, and educators.

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What are the goals of the Trust Challenge?

The Trust Challenge seeks to create exemplar laboratories whose ideas and solutions can be scaled. Successful Trust Challenge proposals must bridge technological solutions with complex social considerations around trust and open standards, including how to:

  • design systems and digital environments that engender trust for networks of youth, parents, and educators;
  • provide youth with the tools, skills, and knowledge to know when a system is safe, to control their data, and to confidently use the web and its resources;
  • encourage youth to interact collaboratively with peers and mentors in productive ways, by putting web resources and networks to good social, civic and academic purposes;
  • promote a culture of civility and respect online, enabling deeper and more supportive, trusted engagement among youth so that they become responsible creators and stewards of an open, inviting, and egalitarian web;
  • engender respectful use and sharing of online personal data so that youth understand how their data are used by other people, corporations, and governments, and what the consequences of sharing their data can be.

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What types of projects will the Trust Challenge support?

Funded projects should be aligned with the principles of connected learning and develop one or more of the following:

  • social media tools, apps, and platforms that improve trust, privacy, and control of information, and safety online;
  • digital badging systems or other online evaluation mechanisms, recognition and feedback methods to recognize learning across multiple spheres to give youth control over how their data are used, displayed, and shared;
  • educational or tech solutions to support more trustworthy online privacy and security practices and literacies for youth and encourage community building for learning;
  • online learning experiences, tools, or content explicitly designed to promote a culture of civility and respect empowering all youth as creators and stewards of an open, inviting, and egalitarian web; and/or
  • interoperable data management platforms or solutions that include open standards and protocols for learning resources.

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Does my proposed solution have to be open source?

Solutions should propose open standards and protocols for learning where possible.

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What is a primary applicant? Who might be considered collaborators?

A Primary Applicant (PA) will be the project lead on the Trust Challenge project. He/she will be the first line of contact and will be responsible for disseminating information to the rest of the group. This person will be responsible for overall project management, including budget oversight. In some cases, the primary applicant will be applying through the organization/institution that will serve as the laboratory and project implementation site. In other cases, the primary applicant may be from a partner organization that is collaborating with personnel from the laboratory site for project implementation.

Collaborators are additional persons from the primary applicant organization who are part of a team seeking funding from the Digital Media and Learning Competition and are managed by the primary applicant. Alternately, collaborators could be from a separate organization/institution partnering with the primary applicant organization/institution to carry out the work of the grant.

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What type of institutions are eligible to apply?

Successful proposals will include organizations and institutions anywhere in the world that serve as laboratories where challenges to trust for youth in connected learning environments can be identified and addressed.

Applicants may be affiliated with any institution, organization or entity that has legal status to operate, regardless of its size or the sector in which it operates. These might include:

  • Educational institutions such as community colleges, four-year colleges or universities;
  • Nonprofit organizations with a 501(c) status;
  • Small and large businesses (for-profit organizations);
  • Museums;
  • Libraries;
  • Out-of-school programs;
  • Youth-serving summer programs;
  • Schools and school districts;
  • Governmental and non-governmental organizations;
  • Civic organizations;
  • Municipalities;
  • Other youth-serving institutions.

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Do applications have to be cross-institutional? Do I have to have outside collaborators to apply?

No. While we strongly encourage collaboration and partnering, it is not required. Your entire team may originate from the primary applicant’s home institution/organization. Please note, however, that your team should include all the necessary personnel, consultants, etc. to consider your trust issue from both a social and technological perspective and to design and implement appropriate solutions.

Teams must include institutional/organizational stakeholders and administrators that can provide and direct project objectives, inform design and implementation, and increase opportunities for scalability. Additionally, teams might also include:

  • technologists, web developers, app developers, badge system designers, etc. that can design, build and implement the proposed digital solution; and
  • researchers, educators, learning experts, policy advisors, legal counsel, etc. that can give careful consideration to complex social and institutional/organizational considerations around trust and learning.

Keep in mind that successful projects will be those that create scalable, innovative, and transformative exemplars of connected learning. As such, your issue around trust should be one that other organizations might encounter and can learn from.

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Who should comprise a collaborative project team?

The Trust Challenge strongly encourages collaboration. Successful proposals will include organizations and institutions anywhere in the world that serve as laboratories where challenges to trust in connected learning environments can be identified and addressed.

Teams must include:

  • institutional/organizational stakeholders and administrators that can provide and direct project objectives, inform design and implementation, and increase opportunities for scalability.

Additionally, teams might also include:

  • technologists, web developers, app developers, badge system designers, etc. that can design, build and implement the proposed digital solution; and
  • researchers, educators, learning experts, policy advisors, legal counsel, etc. that can give careful consideration to complex social and institutional/organizational considerations around trust and learning.

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What is Connected Learning?

In a connected learning world, all young people have equitable access to learning opportunities that are social, participatory, driven by personal needs and interests, and oriented toward educational, civic and economic opportunities.

The Digital Media and Learning Competition is committed to connected learning environments. See more here.

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Will I be required to display my proposal to the public?

Yes, but only finalist applications that move beyond the first stage of judging will be displayed publicly.

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2. Eligibility (8)

Can individuals apply?

Primary applicants must have institutional affiliation and apply through an organization or institution.   An institutional affiliation means a working connection to an institution or organization — place of employment, formal agreement with a non-profit, sponsoring university, etc. — that would administer the funding and official paperwork on behalf of the primary applicant.

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Why do I have to apply through an institution or organization? What are the expectations for institutional/organizational involvement?

This year’s Digital Media and Learning Competition invites applicants to identify and address real-world challenges to trust in connected learning environments or “labs.” A formal affiliation with an organization/institution/entity, is more likely to support an individual applicant in creating a solution for a specific real-world application and implementation, helping to create trustworthy, scalable, innovative, and transformative exemplars of connected learning that bridge technological solutions with complex social considerations.  In addition to  institutional guarantees about meeting grant terms and conditions, financing, etc., the named organization/institution is required to have the necessary institutional frameworks and buy-in to fully support and implement the project if approved.   Also, if grant funds were to be awarded to the primary applicant directly, doing so would have significant tax liability, which could reduce the available grant money to be devoted to the project.

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Are there residency requirements?

We welcome applications from institutions/organizations and individuals with institutional affiliations from outside the U.S., provided that the primary applicant meets the eligibility requirements.

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Is there an age restriction?

All applicants must be at least 18 years of age when the application is submitted; however, personnel working on the project may include students and others under the age of 18 as long as they are working under the supervision of the primary applicant and with appropriate parental or guardian consent.

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I am a former Digital Media and Learning Competition winner. Can I apply?

No, not as a primary applicant. Former PIs may contribute as a team member on a project seeking funding from the Trust Challenge. However, it must be clear (in a legally defensible way) that he or she is not a de facto PI but is on the team serving in a different role or making a different contribution.

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I am already receiving funds from the MacArthur Foundation. Can I apply?

Yes, but only if you are not or have not been a Digital Media and Learning Competition winner.

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I am already receiving funds from another source. Can I apply?

Yes, however, any award you receive from the Trust Challenge should be applied to the part of the project that is not being funded by other sources.

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Can more than one individual from the same institution apply?

Yes, multiple PIs from the same institution may apply, as long as the proposals are substantially different. In addition, members of a team (primary applicant and collaborators) can all be from the same institution.

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3. Budget (3)

When do I submit a budget for my Trust Challenge application?

Applicants will be required to submit a standard Budget Spreadsheet and Budget Narrative for all proposals as part of their initial application. All funded programs may be subject to financial audit.

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Should I request the maximum amount in the award category?

No. The amount requested should be the most feasible and suitable for the project. Judges will consider the appropriateness of the requested budget for the proposed project. The maximum award amount for a single proposal is $150,000.

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What should be included in my formal budget?

Allowable expenses include:

  • Personnel expenses such as staff work hours, personnel salary, travel expenses, etc.;
  • Project materials and supplies;
  • Technology costs, including software and hardware. Requests for funds to purchase durable supplies or equipment costing more than $20 per item must include a statement indicating where ownership of each item will reside once the purchase is made (individual or organization), and how the item is expected to provide continued benefit to the owner throughout the project development period;
  • Consultant fees, including legal, policy, educational, and technological consultants;
  • Costs associated with deployment, implementation, and communication of your project.

Required expenses include:

  • Awardees whose projects involve any human subjects research or testing are required to set aside funds for the review of an Institutional Review Board (IRB) to be approved by a commercial IRB.
  • All budgets must also include airfare (or other transportation), transfers, lodging and meals for two to three days for a winner’s event at a major urban site in the United States (to be determined).

Indirect costs:

  • For institutional/organizational applications, indirect costs will be permitted at a maximum of fifteen (15) percent ONLY if required in a published indirect cost policy by the primary applicant’s home institution or organization.

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4. Judging, Voting & Comments (13)

Who is judging the Trust Challenge?

A panel of expert judges from nonprofit and educational organizations will evaluate applications and select winners.

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Can anyone post comments on my proposal?

When the comment period of the Challenge opens, anyone with access to the internet may comment on your proposal.

Public comments may be considered by the judging panel, however judges are not obligated to take into account any or all comments on an application.

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Can I respond to comments about my proposal?

Yes. The commenting system exists to promote dialog for all.

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Will comments be moderated?

Posts that constitute commercial advertisements, incoherent and indecipherable text, threats against individuals, advocating violence, using vulgar language or promoting illegal activities will be removed by the Digital Media and Learning Competition staff.

If you discover posts violating this policy, please report it to us via the contact form.

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How important is the public commenting and voting? Will it determine award decisions?

Public comments are meant to promote dialog and provide useful feedback to applicants, in addition to being a general indication of public interest in any given proposal. Public votes and public comments may be taken into consideration by the judging panel during the formal private judging process, but will not guarantee that a project will or will not be awarded a development grant. However, the three finalist proposals that receive the most public votes will be awarded a “People’s Choice Award.” These small grants will be up to $5,000 and must be used specifically for approved technology purchases for the applying organization/institution.

Finalists are encouraged to generate support for ideas by asking peers, colleagues, and fans to vote for their proposed project.

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How will I and others vote in the Digital Media and Learning Competition?

The Challenge’s website dmlcompetition.net will provide a link and instructions for public voting.

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Will you post voting totals?

We will not post totals as we want to avoid influencing others’ opinions.

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Will public voting be moderated? If so, how?

Voting will be restricted to one vote per internet protocol address. Internet accessible devices use an Internet Protocol (IP) address when accessing the internet. Each IP address representing a device may vote for each application once. A single IP may give support in the form of votes to multiple projects, but can not vote multiple times for a single project. The IP address is recorded for each vote to validate uniqueness.

This method is used to ensure the maximum number of people can participate in voting with the minimal amount of barrier rather than forcing voters to register accounts as a means of tracking vote authenticity.

Public forums such as schools or libraries are unfortunately sometimes limited to using a single shared public IP address for all their computers and will only count as a single vote. Please be aware that the Trust Challenge web site is designed to be responsive to tablet and mobile devices and each such device typically also has a different unique IP address when used with 3G/4G/LTE internet access allowing a single person access to several IP addresses for voting through home, phone and work internet access. We leave it to the honor system that a voter votes only once. Should we discover abuse of the system in favor of a proposal, that proposal will likely be precluded from winning a People’s Choice Award.

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Does making a comment on someone else’s application qualify me as a collaborator on that project? Should an application that I commented on win, can I claim any of the award?

All comments and feedback are provided voluntarily, with the knowledge that they will be taken into consideration by applicants and may be incorporated into an application. Only primary applicants and those listed as co-applicants and official collaborators in the official application are eligible to receive an award. Commenting on an application, providing ideas and feedback, even if your comment provides an idea that results in the project being awarded, does not give you any ownership rights to the project.

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What criteria will the reviewers be using for evaluation?

Applications will be judged based on the following criteria:

Laboratory:

  • Do the partnering organizations/institutions create a compelling site of inquiry that engages issues of trust, access, and privacy in significant ways that further connected learning?
  • Does the proposal consider solutions that address technological, institutional/organizational, and social issues of trust, including policies and laws that may affect implementation?
  • Will the solution be developed with significant input from laboratory stakeholders, including parents, educators, and youth to insure successful adoption and implementation?

Connected learning:

  • Is the proposal based on principles of trust, fairness, and equity?
  • Does the proposal and its implementation advance the core values of connected learning in relation to issues of trust, privacy and safety?
  • Is the proposed solution, tool, or policy optimized to encourage trusted peer collaboration, connection with mentors, and real-life learning connected learning experiences?

Diversity, civility, and inclusivity:

  • Does the proposal promote a culture of civility and respect online that recognizes diversity?
  • Are youth encouraged to be responsible creators and stewards of an open, inviting, and egalitarian web?
  • Has the proposal taken into account requisite policies, tools, and other safeguards to encourage respectful, safe, and responsible interactions online that enable deeper and more supportive, trusted engagement among youth?

Access

  • Does the proposal address legal, technological, socio-economic, or physical barriers to participation in learning environments?

Digital, social, and emotional literacies:

  • Will learning content or resources be made available to support the development of digital literacies in youth so that they can access, navigate, contribute to, and understand the web in trustworthy, safe, and privacy-protecting ways?

Control of data

  • Will use of the proposed digital tool allow youth to understand how their data is used by other people, corporations, and governments, and what the consequences of sharing their data can be?
  • Has the proposal made clear how youth will know that their data are safe?
  • Will learners be able to control their own creative work and personal data online?
  • Does the proposal and solution make clear how data are being used, by whom, and to what purpose and with what consequences?
  • Does the tool, platform, or solution communicate to end-users in transparent, user-friendly language how information and data are being collected, stored, and used?

Privacy

  • Have privacy permissions been considered for different stakeholders?

Scalability and impact

  • Can the proposed solutions be scaled to similar trust environments and serve as exemplar projects?

Technical:

Solutions should propose open standards and protocols for learning where possible. Does the proposed digital tool or solution:

  • enable learners to easily share their data across different platforms, products, learning networks, and services in informed, safe, and privacy-protecting ways?
  • use truly open standards and require the use of open licensing for data transfer that are accessible, secure, trustworthy, and that allow others to interoperate?
  • include an open protocol that allows secure authorization in a simple, standard method for desktop, web, and mobile applications?
  • allow code to be forked or hacked?
  • create strong mobile transferable and interoperable data standards that others can build on, especially for interaction between social networking and mobile devices?
  • have strong infrastructure security standards to maintain integrity and confidentiality of data transfer and storage?
  • include adequate and accurate documentation?
  • address ADA compliance and provide accessibility to people with visual and motor impairments?
  • detail a well-designed digital tool with attention to visual design and UX / UI?

Communication and implementation plan

  • Does the proposal include a realistic implementation strategy and plan for engaging organizational stakeholders and audiences who will use the tool or solution?
  • Is there a communications plan in place that will allow for transparent documentation of the project development process to foster public engagement and learning opportunities for similar laboratories?

Plan and Budget

  • Is the plan for developing the solution realistic and within the allowable budget?

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Will I be interviewed before the final decision is made?

No. Judging decisions will be made solely based on the application that is submitted.

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5. Applying to the Digital Media and Learning Competition using FastApps (9)

How do I create an account on FastApps?

Go to FastApps and click the link that says “Create Account”. Provide your full name and email address where prompted and click “Create Account”. An activation email will be sent to the email address provided– sign in to your email account and open the Fastapps activation email. Then click the “Activate Account” link.

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Can I start an application, save it and return for later editing?

Yes, applications can be saved and returned to for editing throughout the application window. Please keep in mind, however, that you must formally submit your proposal for consideration and for it to display on the Trust Challenge website.

To prevent possible loss of work, we suggest developing your project’s description in a separate document and cutting it and pasting it into FastApps.

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Will I be able to change my submission after I submit it?

Yes, you will be able to revise your proposal until the Challenge application window closes. In fact, applicants are encouraged to submit initial proposals early in the application window and invite community engagement and feedback to revise and strengthen their ideas. This is an important opportunity to engage organizational/institutional constituencies and stakeholders and to generate feedback from those that will be participating in the lab and benefitting from the proposed tool or solution.

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Can I have multiple proposals if they have not been submitted yet?

No. Each FastApps account is limited to one (1) application for the Trust Challenge. This application should be in the account of the Primary Applicant for the application. Once an application has been created, you will not be able to create another application.

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What is the project logo image and what size should it be in?

This is the image that will be used to represent your project in the list of submitted projects. It is the most visible method for visitors to identify your project. It typically helps with identification to have your project’s name in easily identifiable text, font, and colors so visitors can quickly identify it.

The maximum and recommended image size is 300 pixels in width by 200 pixels in height and 72 pixels/inch resolution on a transparent PNG image. We may resize your uploaded image as necessary to generate thumbnail of various sizes, the aspect ratio of the image may be distorted if it is different from this recommended size.

The PNG should be transparent without a solid background color as it may be displayed on various web sites with different background colors.

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I didn’t get the account activation email. What should I do?

Please check your SPAM email folder. The activation email sometimes get marked as SPAM.

You can trigger another activation email by using the Reset Password process. If your account is new and not yet activated, the process will generate an account activation email instead of a reset password email. It is necessary to click the activation link within the activation email before you can use your account.

Staff can not activate your account because if you are unable to receive the initial activation email, future important system-generated emails such as submission confirmation or communications from program administrators may not reach you.

If you continue to not be able to receive system generated email, please try to create another account using a different domain extension that does not uses the same SPAM filtering mechanism.

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I forgot my password! What should I do?

You can reset your password by using the Reset Password process.  An email will be sent with a link that you can follow to change your personalized password.

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What am I required to submit in the FastApps application? What will be visible to the public?

Applications must be submitted through the online FastApps system and will require the following items. Contact information, personal identification information, and budgets will not be made public. Please see our privacy policy for additional information.

  • an overview of the proposed collaborations and laboratory site;
  • a detailed description of the institutional challenge to trust in a connected learning environment;
  • a detailed description of the proposed digital tool, platform, or solution and how it will address the challenge;
  • a rationale for the importance of the tool, platform, or solution that takes into consideration Trust Challenge criteria;
  • a team roster and division of responsibilities;
  • budget and budget narrative;
  • proposed development process and timeline;
  • preliminary implementation and communication strategy, including a plan for engaging organizational stakeholders and audiences who will use the tool, platform, or solution.

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6. Post-Award and Fufillment (6)

What are the responsibilities of the primary applicant?

The primary applicant will be the first line of contact and will be responsible for disseminating information to the rest of the group. This person will be responsible for overall project management, including budget oversight.

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How long is the grant term?

The grant term is one calendar year beginning on the date of the award contract.

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Are there restrictions on how the money can be spent?

Yes, all funds are to be used specifically for the awarded project and according to proposed budget.  Financial and narrative reports will be required on a quarterly basis throughout the grant period. Institutions administering the grant will have to keep a financial record of grant expenditures.

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How and when will the award be distributed?

Awardees will receive a check on a quarterly basis, upon submission of an invoice for expenses incurred on the project, for the quarter.

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Will taxes or indirect costs be applied to the amount received?

Taxes will not be withheld by HASTAC. Indirect costs will be permitted at a maximum of fifteen (15) percent only if documented by the primary applicant’s home institution or organization. Applicants’ budgets should allow for this.

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