Rapid Research: The Hive Research Lab Method in 5 Easy Steps

There’s essentially one big question that drives our work here at Hive Research Lab: How can the Hive NYC network improve its capacity to support youth learning pathways and act as a robust innovation infrastructure for education?

As it turns out, Hive NYC members already have plenty of thoughts about how to do this!

On July 18th, during the Hive NYC meet up at the Lower Eastside Girls Club’s amazing new space, we gave a short introduction to the Hive Research Lab and then ran an activity with Hive members cheekily called “The HRL Method in Five Easy Steps,” which was somewhat of a condensed version of our design-based research approach. Instead of a multi-year timescale for the method though, we did it in about 25 minutes(!). Here are the steps we shared with Hive members:

Step 1. Form a group of three and choose a scribe.
Step 2. Decide on a question, based on the Lab’s research goals of improving Hive’s capacity to support youth pathways and trajectories and act as an infrastructure for innovation.
Step 3. Gather your data, by giving examples from your own practice related to the topic you’ve chosen.
Step 4. Analyze and synthesize your data. Based on data from step 3, come up with some broader lesson or principle that could be drawn from the examples surfaced across your group.
Step 5. Create a data-driven design. Based on results from step 4, come up with possible design changes that could be applied to a Hive NYC member program, organization or to the network writ large.

Reading through the activity sheets, we were blown away by all the great lessons and design suggestions everyone came up with in the very limited time we had. (A brief summary of the responses and the entire transcription of the sheets can be found after the jump.)

In terms of a broader lesson around supporting Youth Trajectories, we heard from a number of groups that adults can play a specific role connecting youth to learning opportunities while still allowing them to explore interests on their own. Also, members voiced that programming for youth trajectories requires not only identifying topics and activities (like gaming, fashion, or making) that are interesting and relevant to youth, but also recognizing that youth interest and relevance is a moving target and so educators much be prepared for constant rejiggering if necessary.

On the Innovation Infrastructure side, responses reflected an appreciation of the network’s collective differences and a call for more documentation and sharing of work and learnings (both practical and technical) so that members can be stronger collaborators going forward.

Our main goal for the activity was less about producing implementable designs (that’s for later!) and much more about getting Hive NYC members to both think about these network goals and what it could look like to use data (even if just from their own experiences) to drive a design process that addresses them. We think we were pretty successful in terms of giving everyone a brief preview of the kinds of collaborative analyzing and brainstorming that we’re planning on doing with Hive members as this work gets going. And even though it was meant to just be a teaser, the ideas and strategies everyone came up with for improving the network were truly insightful and demonstrate a deep and nuanced understanding of these issues and how a network infrastructure might begin to address them. We see huge potential in what’s to come and can’t wait to dig deeper into these topics with Hive members!

Check out the specifics of what each group documented after the jump.

Summary of Group Take-aways

Youth Trajectories Study: How can Hive NYC create a coordinated ecosystem where youth can explore and deepen interest-driven trajectories and pathways?

1. Broader lesson: Not reinventing the wheel: Hacking → hands on → play model design, experimenting (apps or hardware) → self-guided → testing, iteration → mentoring in professional/academic spaces
Design change: Hive HQ makerspace, drop-in centers with mentor volunteers, unfacilitated.

2. Broader lesson: Must be willing to go back and review, learn more. Start with designing something within a set of parameters, then be open to change and exploration.
Design change: Do more sharing exchanges between Hive organizations—small group teaching exchanges to expand skill sets of organization members, create opportunities for deep-dive sessions.

3. Broader lesson: Give youth stuff they are interested in. It gives them the opportunity to express their voice (i.e., mix of instruction and doing).
Design change: Rather than having a specific assignment, allow for a more general program that allows the youth to use their voice to create a product.

4. Broader lesson: Adults should function as connectors (vs. directors) and also for creating space.
Design change: Hive could provide interest-driven subgroup-type meet-ups. Also, training/discussions on how adults can be better facilitators (vs. direct “leaders”).

5. Broader lesson: Adult allies should be involved at key points—adults have to strategically connect and support the young person’s finding of pathways and creating structures of support that get them there.
Design change: (1) Train adults to help young people connect to opportunities. (2) Create an ongoing youth-run/peer-to-peer hangout (on or offline) to help each other find opportunities.

Innovation Infrastructure Study: How can Hive NYC support the development and/or spread of learning innovations?

1. Broader lesson: Sharing ideas and stories that youth are not familiar with. Opening cultural experiences.
Design change: (1) Collaboration, documenting successes and sharing with Hive organizations. (2) Searching for more project commonalities for more effective collaboration.

2. Broader lesson: Building upon a successful program and taking it in different direction—tapping into technology more deeply. Having students present work more publicly—reaching new audiences.
Design change: Meetups like this! Contributing to and benefitting from a Hive set of organizational questions about experiences to date with innovations like ours (more tech-enabled, new audiences, more student-facing).

Full Transcript of Group Data and Process

YOUTH TRAJECTORIES STUDY
Group 1

Gather your data – what’s an example of youth seeking out learning opportunities connected to what they’re interested in?

    1. MOUSE CORPS student inspired to work overtime on adaptive tech design project, met ITP mentor, now has goal to attend grad school ITP
    2. Aerodynamic app – Building models; Museum coordinating
    3. Hackathon – Students getting together on their own, after programming is over to continue geeking

Analyze and Synthesize – Any broader lesson or principle?

Not reinventing the wheel → hacking → Hands on → play model design, experimenting (apps or hardware) → self-guided → testing, iteration → mentoring in professional/academic spaces

Put your data to work – Any design changes you can suggest?

Hive HQ makerspace, drop-in centers with mentor volunteers, unfacilitated

Group 2

Gather your data – what’s an example of youth seeking out learning opportunities connected to what they’re interested in?

    1. Video editing – practicing skills, wanting to dive deeper into storytelling and editing techniques.
    2. Learning more about a particular topic and diving deeper (ex: Temi and her story about sexual cyber-bullying. Why is it so hard to take action?)
    3. Student doing a project comparing financial services, diving deeper into fees, terms.

Analyze and Synthesize – Any broader lesson or principle?

Must be willing to go back and review, learn more. Started with designing something within a set or parameters, then was open to change and exploration.

Put your data to work – Any design changes you can suggest?

Do more sharing exchanges between Hive organizations—small group teaching exchanges to expand skill sets of organization members, create opportunities for deep-dive sessions.

Group 3

Gather your data – what’s an example of youth seeking out learning opportunities connected to what they’re interested in?

    1. During a gaming lab an 8th grade student learned to use thimble, which aligned with his interest in website design. He used what he learned to document.
    2. Time-lapse photography
    3. Explainer TV – makes videos based on interests

Analyze and Synthesize – Any broader lesson or principle?

Give them stuff they are interested in. It gives them the opportunity to express their voice (i.e., mix of instruction and doing).

Put your data to work – Any design changes you can suggest?

Rather than having a specific assignment, allow for a more general program that allows the youth to use their voice to create a product.

Group 4

Gather your data – what’s an example of youth seeking out learning opportunities connected to what they’re interested in?

    1. Kickflip 2.0 – kids who are super committed to skating and not committed to staying indoors coming voluntarily to program and talking about college and other trajectories
    2. During a Stop Motion workshop kids sought out new ways to do special effects and wanted to continue after the workshop was over. This prompted us to look for free program online.
    3. High school musicians get together outside of school to start Dixieland band. Rehearse regularly.

Analyze and Synthesize – Any broader lesson or principle?

Adults as connectors (vs. directors) and also creating space

Put your data to work – Any design changes you can suggest?

Hive could provide interest-driven subgroup-type meet-ups. Also, training/discussions on how adults can be better facilitators (vs. direct “leaders”).

Group 5

Gather your data – what’s an example of youth seeking out learning opportunities connected to what they’re interested in?

    1. A teen posts sheet music of a composition and gets feedback on it. Then she edits and records a demo and gets feedback on that. Then she might choose to record professionally.
    2. Young people come to our youth media organization to learn video, but we also do a political education. Our staff connected that young person to a civil justice organization
    3. c. A teen shared interest in another organization’s game design class but when she found out more it was too hard for her to travel to. Staff will hopefully help her find other resources.

Analyze and Synthesize – Any broader lesson or principle?

Adult allies are involved at key points—adults have to strategically connect and support the young person’s finding of pathways and creating structures of support that get them there

Put your data to work – Any design changes you can suggest?

    1. Train adults to help young people connect to opportunities.
    2. Create an ongoing youth-run/peer-to-peer hangout (on or offline) to help each other find opportunities.

INNOVATION INFRASTRUCTURE STUDY

Group 1

Gather your data – what’s an example of effective ideation, iteration, circulation or adaptation of a learning innovation in your org?

    1. Latin American … – World education for teachers and youth
    2. WNET – Access to individuals, making information and opportunities available; American Graduation Day – High school drop out prevention
    3. Lower East Side Girls Club – innovative storytelling to educate (ex: using the dome)

Analyze and Synthesize – Any broader lesson or principle?

Sharing ideas and stories that youth are not familiar with. Opening cultural experiences.

Put your data to work – Any design changes you can suggest?

    1. Collaboration, documenting successes and sharing with Hive organizations.
    2. Searching for more project commonalities for more effective collaboration.

Group 2

Gather your data – what’s an example of effective ideation, iteration, circulation or adaptation of a learning innovation in your org?

    1. YAK (Young Artists Kollective) – free after school program for grades 6-9 with open studio hours (arts and media). Teaching artists engage kids through community outreach; working with different age groups, being fluid and focused on what kids want to work on
    2. Girl Stories: Film and Comics—ages 12-15. Sructured free 12 session series on sequential art-making—girls apply and choose a track (launching in spring 2014). Will also have a youth-led online presence
    3. Facing History’s new “Key Decisions: Youth Participation in Civil Rights” blended learning course—different methodology for engaging with teachers, students, new group of schools, in contrast with traditional “high touch.” Solely directed at teachers. Different mode of engaging and scaling.

Analyze and Synthesize – Any broader lesson or principle?

Building upon successful program and taking it in different direction—tapping into technology more deeply. Having students present work more publicly—reaching new audiences.

Put your data to work – Any design changes you can suggest?

Meetups like this! Contributing to and benefitting from a Hive set of organizational questions about experiences to date with innovations like ours (more tech-enabled, new audiences, more student-facing).

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