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What is the Aspen Task Force on Creating a Trusted Learning Environment Guide?

The Guide for Creating a Trusted Learning Environment is a stand-alone publication inspired by Action U outlined in the original Aspen Task Force Report (2014). Educators, academics, policymakers and community partners participated in a series of interviews and critique sessions for the purpose of gathering a variety of perspectives for the guide. The guide is a synthesis of these various viewpoints and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of each participant or organization.

The following guide serves as a framework for dialogue and action among a learning community’s many constituencies. This guide contains worksheets used for the following stakeholders: Learners; Parents or Caregivers; In-School or Out-of-School Providers; and Developers.

Guide Acknowledgements

The Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program acknowledges and expresses deep gratitude to the MacArthur Foundation for their guiding advice and generous grant in support of this project. We also acknowledge the Penn Hill Group for their expertise and relentless effort in the creation and development of this guide from concept to its final release.

We also thank the educators, academics, policymakers and community partners who participated in interviews and critique sessions for the purpose of gathering a variety of perspectives. The guide is a synthesis of these various viewpoints and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of each participant or organization. We thank them for their generous contribution of time and expertise. The individuals and organizations involved in shaping the guide are (listed in alphabetical order by participant last name):

Linnette Attai
Playwell, LLC

Alan Berry

Iris Bond Gill
Mozilla Foundation

Catherine M. Casserly, Ph.D.
Aspen Institute

Sandra Cortesi
Youth and Media – Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at
Harvard University

M. Briggs DeLoach
Youth and Media – Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at
Harvard University

Sheryl Grant
Director of Alternative Credentials and Badge Research, HASTAC
Director of Social Networking, DML Competitions, HASTAC
Duke University

Paulina Haduong
Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard

Grainne Hamilton
Programme Director
Digital ME

Julie Keane
Head of Research
Global Gateway, VIF Process Lab

L. Arthi Krishnaswami
RyeCatcher Education PBC

Emily Long
Director of Communications & Development

Meghan McDermott
Mozilla Foundation

Lisa Mills
Speech Language Pathologist
Anne Arundel County Public Schools

Sandra Moscoso-Mills
The World Bank

Matt Rogers
Product Manager

Felton Thomas, Jr.
President, Public Library Association
CEO, Cleveland Public Library

Joe Weedon
Ward 6 Representative
DC State Board of Education

Jacqueline Wernimont, Ph.D.
Interim Director, Nexus Lab
Director, Computational and Digital Humanities Certificate Program
Co-Director, HS Collab
Arizona State University

Peter Zamora
Director of Federal Relations
Membership and Outreach
Council of Chief State School Officers

Elana Zeide
Associate Research Scholar
Princeton Center for Information Technology Policy

Sarah Zelller-Berkman, Ph.D.
CUNY School of Professional Studies
Consultant to Mozilla Foundation

What is the Task Force On Learning And The Internet?

The Aspen Task Force on Learning and the Internet, with support and guidance from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, is a group of 20 innovative and respected minds in technology, public policy, education, business, privacy and safety. The Task Force’s goal was to understand the ways in which young people learn today and to optimize learning and innovation within a trusted environment. From there, the Task Force defined how parents, teachers, young learners, businesses and nonprofits can expand new learning opportunities, online and off-line, and inside and outside the classroom.

After a year of study, outreach to stakeholders, public input and internal deliberations, the Task Force believes that a new vision of learning is emerging. But to ensure that young learners are able to take full advantage of the opportunity, we must resolve serious issues of trust, safety, privacy, literacy and equity of access. To help resolve some of these challenges, the Task Force has highlighted five essential principles and twenty-six action steps with the intention they be used as a guide for action – a tool to help those who wrestle with these issues at the local, state and federal levels to tackle them with new insights, clarity, and efficiency.

About the Communications and Society Program

The Communications and Society Program is an active venue for framing policies and developing recommendations in the information and communications fields.  We provide a multi-disciplinary space where veteran and emerging decision-makers can develop new approaches and suggestions for communications policy.  The Program enables global leaders and experts to explore new concepts, exchange insights, develop meaningful networks, and find personal growth, all for the betterment of society.

The Program’s projects range across many areas of information, communications and media policy.  Our activities focus on issues of open and innovative governance, public diplomacy, institutional innovation, broadband and spectrum management, as well as the future of content, issues of race and diversity, and the free flow of digital goods, services and ideas across borders.

Most conferences employ the signature Aspen Institute seminar format: approximately 25 leaders from diverse disciplines and perspectives engaged in roundtable dialogue, moderated with the goal of driving the agenda to specific conclusions and recommendations.  The program distributes our conference reports and other materials to key policymakers, opinion leaders and the public in the United States and around the world.  We also use the internet and social media to inform and ignite broader conversations that foster greater participation in the democratic process.

The Program’s Executive Director is Charles M. Firestone.  He has served in this capacity since 1989 and also as Executive Vice President of the Aspen Institute.  Prior to joining the Aspen Institute, Mr. Firestone was a communications attorney and law professor who has argued cases before the United States Supreme Court.  He is a former director of the UCLA Communications Law Program, first president of the Los Angeles Board of Telecommunications Commissioners, and an appellate attorney for the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

About the MacArthur Foundation

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. In addition to selecting the MacArthur Fellows, the Foundation works to defend human rights, advance global conservation and security, make cities better places, and understand how technology is affecting children and society.

MacArthur is one of the nation's largest independent foundations. Through the support it provides, the Foundation fosters the development of knowledge, nurtures individual creativity, strengthens institutions, helps improve public policy, and provides information to the public, primarily through support for public interest media.


The Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program thanks the MacArthur Foundation for their generous support of this project. We thank our Honorary Co-Chairs Jeb Bush and Rosario Dawson and are very grateful to the members of the Task Force, ably co-chaired by our colleagues John Bailey and Maria Teresa Kumar, and the MacAthur Foundation’s Connie Yowell, for bringing this project to fruition. We appreciate the support they received from Penn Hill Group, SWELL Creative Group, and Richard Adler for their in depth work and support, and to Robert Rothman for his support with writing. We thank Geoffrey Cowen and the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands for hosting an Aspen Task Force meeting. We very much value the many contributions from the public dialogue and the outreach interviews that the Task Force undertook. Lastly, we thank Fellow, Cathy Casserly, PhD for continuing the work of the Task Force.