Urban Jam Project

Parsons Badges for Youth: Urban Jam

UrbanJam invites participants to explore and engage with New York City [and by extension, any city] as budding urban ecologists, designers, and historians. Fellows of the Parsons Geospatial Design Lab developed UrbanJam during the summer of 2012 to function as a Badgestack learning experience, allowing participants to earn a collection of virtual “badges” [Mozilla Open Badges compliant] for successfully completing learning quests throughout New York City’s five boroughs- aiming to build bridges between formal college/university learning and external informal learning in communities.

UrbanJam was originally designed  according to the principles and practices of Dialogue Education (Vella 2000), with a tight focus on “learning tasks” that prompted participants to grapple with new content by completing observable and tangible objectives. The Dialogue Education approach translates easily from an interactive web-based environment such as Badgestack to a simple paper-based “design” or “instruction manual” for step-by-step learning. After a short pilot run of the program in December 2013, in collaboration with Quest2Learn, members of the original Parsons team have revised UrbanJam for use outside of the Badgestack environment—either as a simple pen-and-paper experience or through another badge-based online platform.


A complete 10 badge / 52 quest urban mapping program was designed and implemented online at parsons.badgestack.net, and is available below in our curriculum/project documentation.

Teams planning to adopt or adapt this project will need to re-implement  the badging system. We recommend  cred.ly and badgeOS– modern and user friendly updates which integrate well with WordPress and Mozilla Open Badges. The full set of badges, as png, psd, and ai files, is available here:
UrbanJam BADGES [31MB]


• 2012-13: Primary work products from the initial 2012/13 Badgestack based project (63 page PDF with comprehensive curriculum description, badgesystem,  learning outcomes, and screenshots) is available at this link:
Parsons Urban Jam Appendices1-5_CCBYSA [24 MB]

• A 2014/15 rewrite of the project, for use in offline/notebook based pedagogies, and outside of NYC, is available here:
UrbanJam Notebook Version [working draft March 09 2015]


This project was funded by Parsons the New School for Design Urban Design and Urban at The New School;  by matching grant,  via the HIVE Digital Media Learning Fund, a special project of the New York Community Trust; and supported by The Center for Transformative Media.  The 2012-13 online version of this project was generously supported with both server space and substantial staff development and testing time by Learning Times [Badgestack].

To report back on how you have reused or adapted this work, email barrye [at] newschool [dot] edu and kellere [at] newschool [dot] edu.

The work products of this grant-funded project are openly available for any and all to use under a creative commons license:

Liz Barry, Leif Percifield, and Philip Silva
Geospatial Lab, Parsons the New School for Design
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States (CC BY-SA 3.0 US)


Blog posts about urban jam can be found under http://geospatial.parsons.edu/category/urbanjam/