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 . 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.

[brief] 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.