Although we've known about this for awhile, this is the most public statement from the MacArthur Foundation, indicating that they are stepping back from their digital learning support. The latest essay from Julia Stasch the president of MacArthur Foundation makes clear that they are ending their support for several key parts of their portfolio, including affordable housing, juvenile justice, reproductive health, and Digital Media and Learning , to refocus their energies and investments on criminal justice and climate change.
Her statement on the digital media and learning work:
For a decade, grantees have explored the notion that young people’s use of digital media in their out-of-school lives has profound implications for education. Much has been accomplished through extensive, seminal research and experimentation—an entirely new field; innovative pedagogy called Connected Learning; and a new approach to young people’s civic engagement. Other outcomes include motivating support for innovative educators; new learning applications through competitions; and new approaches to assessing hard to measure skills with video games. Hive Learning Networks bring civic, cultural, and learning institutions together to provide immersive learning experiences in a city; badges are gaining currency as credentials that make learning more visible and valuable; new schools and teen-endorsed facilities in libraries and museums demonstrate Connected Learning in action; and more. Buoyed by an investment of more than $200 million, this promising effort has grown well beyond what MacArthur can support.
The next step is to experiment with a new organizational model that can attract a more diverse set of partners and investors, explore alternative funding models and mechanisms, and accommodate a more entrepreneurial and innovative approach to achieving the ambitious goal of reimagining what learning is and how it is supported. This fall, we will launch a new, independent nonprofit whose goal is the scale and spread of the innovations developed by the many organizations we have supported.
See more at: https://www.macfound.org/annual-report/2014/essay/?page=4#sthash.X0uDJwC9.dpuf
More detail on this approach at https://www.macfound.org/press/from-field/to-digital-media-and-learning-partners/ .
UPDATE August 20, 2015
The DML Research Hub has created a forum where folks can discuss what the larger implications of MacArthur's step away from DML means for our community.