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Ribbon HUNDRED 2019
Helping People & Places tell the Story of their Learning

Cities of Learning UK

London, UK
Cities of Learning creates new pathways into learning and employment by connecting and amplifying formal, informal, and in work learning opportunities that exist across Cities via a system of digital open badges. Open badges become a new 'currency' for learning in a place, recognising the knowledge and skills gained through participation in different activities (online and offline).

What is Cities of Learning UK?

Rosie Clayton, Associate Director, Cities of Learning RSA
“Learners of all ages and backgrounds have hidden skills, talents and interests that often aren’t recognised by the broader education system. Many also lack knowledge about the variety of learning and work opportunities available in their local area, and an understanding about how to access these. Cities of Learning aims to connect different learning experiences across localities and places to enable learners to see new pathways to opportunity which may not have been visible to them previously. Digital badges create a new language for learning and skill development, which helps learners identify, develop and articulate their skills and capabilities in different contexts. More broadly, Cities of Learning looks to mobilise the potential of place based networks, new forms of civic leadership and new technologies in creating places that value and promote lifelong learning as core to their culture and civic identity.”

Rosie Clayton, Associate Director, Cities of Learning RSA

Building on the work of LRNG Cities in the USA and the UNESCO Learning Cities movement, the RSA & DigitalMe have devised a new way to connect people with opportunities at scale across our cities, unlocking untapped potential for all individuals, employers and communities.

Cities of Learning is orientated around three key design principles - leadership, networks and platform. In practice this means establishing a new local leadership model in localities (engaging and bringing together civic, business, third sector organisations and education leaders), mobilising diverse networks of learning providers, and augmenting this with a digital platform which connects learners to networks of employers, formal and non-formal education providers.

Learning experiences across Cities are recognised via digital open badges, which demonstrate the knowledge, skills and capabilities gained by learners through different learning activities. Each City of Learning has its own 'skills spine' which learning experiences are connected to, and from which learning pathways into further learning or employment are created. 

The technology platform uses data insights to create new pathways into learning and employment, and drive better commissioning of services and opportunites. An inclusive approach that promotes and recognises learning wherever it happens and leads to new pathways into education and work.

The concept was prototyped in three UK Cities in 2017 - Brighton, Greater Manchester and Plymouth - and the RSA and DigitalMe are working towards the launch of two evaluated pilots of Cities of Learning in 2019.

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Innovation Overview
Target Group
1 000
2 041
Focus areas
Tips for implementation
Contact information

See this innovation in action

Putting lifelong learning on the digital map - RSA
Local Learning Ecosystems: Emerging Models
Rosie Clayton
How everyone can learn and work in the City of the future
Rosie Clayton
Are local communities demonstrating new forms of leadership when national Government can’t?
Rosie Clayton
Brighton City of Learning
Plymouth City of Learning
Recruiting to Retention: The Emerging Role of Digital Credentials in the World of Work - RSA
Digital Open Badges & Technology Approach


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