Youth Trajectories Interim Brief #2: Mapping Social Learning Ecologies of Youth

We are excited to share our latest research report, the third in a series of interim briefs related to our YTCover2Networked Innovation and Youth Trajectories strands of research. As we’ve mentioned before, HRL is committed to sharing, early and often, data and findings that we hope will feel relevant and useful to the Hive community.

In this brief, we discuss our recent work exploring how adults and peers have supported youth who participate in Hive NYC-affiliated activities. Drawing from interviews conducted with our case study youth (read more about them in our first Youth Trajectories brief), we articulate a set of 16 supportive roles—encompassing Material, Knowledge Building, Emotional, Brokering and Institutional forms of support—that our youth identified as being important to them.

SLE_MapWe also describe how we developed visualizations of these supportive roles and the adults and peers behind them, forming maps of something we call a young person’s social learning ecology (SLE). These SLE maps may be used to better understand and characterize aspects of a young person’s SLE such as redundancy of support and diversity of sources that we hypothesize may be consequential to sustained engagement in certain activities. Also, comparing a youth’s SLE map at different time periods demonstrates the dynamic nature of social learning ecologies generally and how certain providers (and thus forms of support) may be more transient in a young person’s life than others. Overall, we hope the findings summarized here may provide the Hive community with some useful insights into how a young person’s social learning ecology, with Hive educators as a critical aspect of it, may intersect with one’s ability to engage in interest-related pursuits.

As always, we welcome any feedback, thoughts or questions you may have about this or any aspect of our work!

On Common Language as Hive Network Infrastructure

One of the things I’ve been contemplating recently is the role of language within a network like Hive NYC. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about how common language might actually be considered part of the network’s infrastructure, and how that infrastructure can support achieving a host of collective impact goals. Infrastructure is a notion that I’ve previously used to describe Hive, and I think that it’s apt when it comes to issues of common language’s role in coordinated action.

This has been in the back of my mind for a while, but came to the forefront as Hive Research Lab recently released a number of interim briefs relating to our research within the network, as well as through a number of Hive events that we were involved in – the February meet-up focusing on leveling up project ideas and the recent event on “Unpacking Spread and Scale” with Cynthia Coburn from Northwestern University. In each of these examples, language, and specifically well operationalized and meaning-laden language, played a key role.

In the case of the first “networked innovation” interim brief, we worked with Hive NYC HQ to figure out how ideas we shared in the brief could be infused into a network meet-up focused on issues of innovation. Part of the goal of that meet-up was to help members “level up” their projects through creating scaffolds for articulating their value from number of different perspectives and to contextualize the problems they were solving and for whom. We explicitly used some of the conceptual frameworks from our brief to create activities. Specifically, we talked through how examining different “dimensions” of an innovation — such as value-add, novelty, form, complexity –might allow that innovation to be better understood and described. One positive outcome of this meeting was that people were able to better understand this concept of innovation from the perspective of network facilitators, researchers, and funders. In a context where language around innovation is regularly used in conversations, requests for proposals and community calls, the meeting was a means to give more depth to a communally valued idea in a way that cut across stakeholders.

Similarly, the recent event Cynthia Coburn ran relating to spread and scale was centrally focused on sharing and clearly defining language relating to these issues of organizational reach (you can see a similar talk she gave at the 2014 Digital Media and Learning conference here). A lot of what Cynthia shared was founded on clearly defined constructs which were then built up into a larger dynamic framework. As small example, she describes spread as the means to achieving scale, which describes as a state. In this case spread is the verb that leads to scale, a noun. As she shared her broader framework and the meanings associated with various concepts, I saw Hive members actively use newly introduced language as a means to sort through dilemmas they’re encountering in their work. Having meaningful language was a tool to engage in problem-solving.

An important point that Cynthia alluded to in her talk that’s also good to highlight here is that particular definitions for words are of course contextual and that the idea is not to convince people that a given word must be defined in a give way absolutely. It’s just useful to know that within a given context language is meant by a particular actor in a particular way. This is what allows meaning to emerge when people then ground that language in their experiences, and share across them. On a similar note, part of the conversation around common language also needs to address how common language is negotiated and agreed upon, by whom, and for what purposes. Words and their definitions of course carry values and assumptions, and language can end up silencing and marginalizing, even inadvertently.

In a network like Hive, made up of individuals with diverse backgrounds both culturally as well as professionally, it’s easy for discourse to simply to be experienced as jargon or buzzwords. Innovation. Pathways. Spread. Etc. These words mean nothing if we don’t work out their meaning together. And unless that happens, we fail to truly reach towards collective impact because we talk past each other in a modern tower of Babel. But when we say what we mean and mean what we say through shared language, then we can actually accomplish something in relation to shared goals. I’m only coming to realize now how much of our role at Hive Research Lab is about that. By engaging in basic research on the network, we work out well defined language that actually describes phenomenon in the real world, and by sharing this language we can do a small part in helping the network take steps towards achieving shared vision. We can play a role in co-creating a common linguistic infrastructure for collective problem solving.

Hive Research Lab at the AERA 2014 Annual Meeting

AERA2014Hive Research Lab will be heading to Philly this week for the American Educational Research Association’s 2014  Annual Meeting.

We’re very excited to ‘debut’ our work on Youth Trajectories and Networked Innovation to the educational research community (and for some reason, despite the hundreds of presentation slots, we ended up getting triple-booked on Friday!)

The theme of the meeting this year is “The Power of Education Research for Innovation in Practice and Policy.” Check out the official meeting page, which also includes an online and printable program.

Here’s a run-down of our presentations and posters:

Friday, April 4

8:15 to 9:45am, Convention Center, 200 Level, Hall E
Poster Session 3
Poster: “‘Both R&D and Retail’: Hive NYC Learning Network as Infrastructure for Learning Innovation,” Rafi Santo, IU (presenting author); Dixie Ching, NYU; Kylie Pepper, IU; Christopher Hoadley, NYU

10:35am to 12:05pm, Marriott, Fifth Level, Grand Ballroom H
Symposium: Pathways, Trajectories, Ecologies, Oh My! Bridging Theories and Methods for Studying Youth Learning Lives
Chairs: Kylie Peppler, IU; Christopher Hoadley, NYU
Discussant: Erica Rosenfeld Halverson, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Presentations:

  • “Leveraging Youths’ Repertories of Practice: Toward Connected and Consequential Learning,” Kris D. Gutiérrez, University of Colorado-Boulder
  • “Trajectories of Family Learning Through Making,” Lisa Brahms, University of Pittsburgh
  • “Trajectories of Science Learning Activation in Scientists and Engineers,” Lynette Jacobs-Priebe, University of Pittsburgh
  • “Connected Play: Making Visible Trajectories of Participation,” Yasmin B. Kafai, University of Pennsylvania; Deborah A. Fields, Utah State University
  • “Connecting Opportunity: Identifying and Mapping Supportive Roles for Sustaining Interest-Driven Pursuits,” Dixie Ching, NYU (presenting author); Rafi Santo, IU; Christopher Hoadley, NYU; Kylie Peppler, IU

10:35am to 12:05pm, Convention Center, 100 Level, 122A
Invited Session: Innovations in Learning in the Digital Age
Chair: Constance Steinkuehler, University of Wisconsin – Madison
Presentation: “Both R&D and Retail’: Hive NYC Learning Network as Infrastructure for Learning Innovation,” Rafi Santo, IU (presenting author); Dixie Ching, NYU; Kylie Peppler, IU; Christopher Hoadley, NYU

Other participants: GlassLab, Jessica Lindl, Institute of Play; iCivics. Jeff Curley, iCivics; Open Badges, Erin Knight, Mozilla Foundation; Educurious, L. Michael Golden, Educurious.

Sunday, April 6
4:05 to 5:35pm, Marriott, Fourth Level, Franklin 6
Symposium: Space and Technologies for Learning in Schools, Museums, and Workplaces: Recent Approaches in Design-Based Research
Presentation: “Designing Academic Technology-Rich Spaces to Facilitate Cross-Departmental Interactions,” Christopher Hoadley, NYU; Matt Lucas, NYU

Monday, April 7
12:25 to 1:55pm, Marriott, Fourth Level, Franklin 13
Symposium: Learning in the Making: Studying, Understanding, and Designing Makerspaces
Discussant: Christopher Hoadley, NYU [substituting for Kylie Peppler]

Cross-Institutional Partnerships for City-Scale Learning Ecologies – DML2014 Panel

At this year’s Digital Media and Learning Conference, I had the privilege to be discussant on a panel that shared and contrasted three ambitious city-scale learning efforts: New York City’s Digital Ready/Hive NYC partnership, Chicago’s Summer of Learning project (now Chicago City of Learning) led by Digital Youth Network, and the Providence After School Alliance. As discussant, my job was to contextualize, synthesize and offer challenges for growth related to the incredible work shared by the panelists about the respective efforts.

Since we’ve gotten a number of requests for material related to the panel, the presenters agreed to have the audio recording and slides posted here on the HRL blog. The slideshare is here and also embedded below, and the recording is here, and also available in the player below.


The full abstract for the panel is here:

Organizers: Rob DiRenzo

Presenters: Rob DiRenzo, Alex Molina, Sybil Madison-Boyd, Rafi Santo, Clare Bertrand

Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELOs) are reshaping when, where, and how student learning occurs. A well-designed and well-implemented ELO program can complement and enrich in-school learning and support academic growth by combining various ways for students to engage in learning. How do organizations, including schools, districts, and partners, build “expanded learning ecologies” for youth that that support connected learning?

The goal of this panel discussion is to inform participants about building expanded learning ecologies to scale and across boundaries showcasing successes and challenges by presenting recent examples from Chicago, New York, and Providence, RI. To address the topic of scale, we will share examples of efforts that aim to reach many youth across many programs, beyond a single intervention or setting. To illustrate crossed boundaries, we will explain efforts to connect various nodes in a youths’ learning ecology (e.g., in-school, out-of-school, individual passion, etc.).

Chicago: The first Chicago Summer of Learning (CSOL) was a citywide mayoral initiative designed to expand learning opportunities for youth during the summer of 2013. More than 100 organizations took part in this effort to recognize learning in out-of-school spaces through digital badges. More than 200,000 youth participated in CSOL programs, and more than 100,000 badges were earned by youth of all ages.

Chicago took a first, critical step in enacting core principles of connected learning and laying the foundation for a vibrant ecosystem of learning opportunities. As ELOs begin to signify experiences that link to content- and career-specific pathways, we expect to see even greater potential to transform youths’ lives.

New York: The NYC Department of Education’s new Digital Ready program is designed to help participating NYC public high schools use technology and student-centered learning to improve their students’ readiness for college and careers. With Digital Ready’s explicit focus on student-centered learning, expanded learning opportunities play an important role in preparing students to explore, engage, and practice their interests. The Digital Ready and Hive Learning Network teams have worked to coordinate a collaborative effort between 10 innovative high schools and 13 groundbreaking Hive NYC organizations to provide students with a range of opportunities that blend in-school and out-of-school learning with experiences that are production-centered and creativity-focused.

Providence: Since its creation in 2004, the Providence After School Alliance (PASA) has built two citywide expanded learning models in collaboration with the City of Providence, the Providence Public Schools (PPSD) and the local community: the AfterZone for middle school, and The Hub for high school. These models offer Providence youth a coordinated schedule of in-school, after-school and summer learning programs for high school credit. Programs incorporate 21st century technology, and students create online portfolios of their work on http://hubprov.com/ . Through hard work, relationship building and years of trial and error, PASA has established itself as a critical component of the educational reform landscape of Providence by enabling students to drive their own learning experience.

Networked Innovation Interim Brief #2 – Innovation Practices and Hive NYC

As many of you following our work know, HRL has been working hard to put together a series of interim NI Brief 2 Cover Finalbriefs that allow us to make more transparent the research we’re doing within Hive NYC. We’ve released two so far, related to our Networked Innovation research strand, and another on our Youth Trajectories strand. Building on the first brief on innovation, which focused on innovations as “things” or products, this second brief on the subject moves begin conceptualizing innovation as a process, or, more precisely, as a set of practices that organizations engage in. We originally wrote about these practices here on the blog, and in the brief we refine our original framework, extended its discussion, and, most importantly, wrote up examples from the fieldwork we’ve conducted within Hive that give life to these practices. A big goal for us was to go from the theoretical ideas about innovation down to the practical level of what innovation looks like on the ground in Hive NYC. We hope you’ll read the whole thing, but as a teaser, here’s an excerpt from the introduction:

Hive NYC has as its tagline “explore+create+share”. It’s a sentiment that expresses many of the core principles the community holds in terms of its pedagogy – one in which youth explore interests and identities, engage in creation, production and expression, and then share this work in authentic contexts. But explore/create/share can also be seen as a loose framework for how those in Hive NYC, as educators, designers and activists, engage in the practices of innovation. It is these practices of innovation we focus on in this brief.

If course, if you have thoughts, feedback or questions, please don’t hesitate to be in touch. Part of our work in these briefs is testing the waters to feel out what has utility for Hive members in their own organizations, so any and all thoughts are welcome.

Hive Research Lab at the 2014 Digital Media and Learning Conference

Along with many of our colleagues from Hive NYC and many other Hive networks across the country, Hive Research Lab will be heading to Boston next week for the annual Digital Media and Learning conference. As many readers might be already be aware, the Hive Learning Network initiative emerged from the broader field of digital media and learning, building on the work of many pioneers in this space and centering its pedagogical commitments around Connected Learning, a research and design framework associated with this community. So, no surprise that Hive networks have a strong presence.

For those attending that want to check out the places where Hive Research Lab will be speaking, we wanted to share a round-up below:

If you’ll be going to the conference and would like to connect, keep an eye out and say hi!

Youth Trajectories Interim Brief #1 – Introduction to Case Portraits of Hive Youth

HRL YT Interim Brief #1As we mentioned in a previous post, we’re currently working on sharing interim briefs related to the Lab’s two research areas: supporting youth trajectories and pathways, and developing the Hive as a context for networked innovation. These briefs are based on early observations and conceptualizations and are designed to provide the Hive NYC community with ongoing frameworks, findings and recommendations as part of a broader effort to connect current research and emerging findings to issues of practical importance.

This is the first brief related to the YT strand and it generally serves as an introduction to our amazing “Hive Five,” a group of youth who have agreed to let us talk to them on a regular basis about their developing interests and the ways they are engaging with them. This brief provides an overview of how they discovered and got involved in Hive programs, what their experiences in these program were like, and what happened after the program ended. In future briefs, as we continue to describe the moves they are making to pursue their passions, we will pay particular attention to the ways they are leveraging their ‘social learning ecology’ (i.e, their circle of family adults, non-family adults and fellow peers) in order to do so.

We hope our briefs are useful to the Hive community and welcome any feedback to make them even more helpful in the future. We also would like to take this opportunity to thank all the Hive members who sat down with us and allowed us into their program spaces in order to help us round out the picture. Also, of course, it is such a privilege to be able to spend time with these incredible young people and to be let into a part of their lives. We hope you enjoy learning about (and from) them as much as we do.