[brief] 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.

Introducing our Jumpstart series! Jumpstarting Hive Pop-ups, Hack Jams and Maker Parties

As research partners of Hive NYC, we are invested in linking research to practice in order to address the network goals of supporting youth interest-driven pathways and strengthening Hive as a context for networked innovation. As part of that effect, we aim to regularly experiment with different kinds of knowledge production and sharing with the Hive NYC community. Here, we’re excited to introduce one of these experiments: HRL Jumpstarts, a series of tip sheets that we hope capture “good practices” of interest to the Hive NYC community. In essence, HRL Jumpstarts combine our fieldwork observations of Hive members doing their work and encountering challenges with our understanding of what existing literature recommends in order to come up with “conjectures,” or best guesses, as to what might support the work of the Hive.

Our first Jumpstart, available here and by clicking the image to the right, HRL-Jumpstarts_front_pageaddresses Hive one-day events, which include Pop-Ups, Hack Jams and Maker Parties, with suggestions for both the host of the event as well as participants who are manning tables or stations. Much appreciation to the über-talented Jess Klein for creating such a playful visual template for us. We hope the community finds the suggestions we pulled together useful — we welcome any and all feedback! Also, as we’ll be releasing other Jumpstarts in the future, please tell us what you think could use a good jump start!

Our process

As ‘working open’ is a value that we share with the Hive NYC network overall, below we provide a recap of the process we underwent to create this Jumpstart.

In early November, Rafi Santo and I brainstormed some guidelines for what could be included in Jumpstarts, based on articles we’ve read, things we’ve observed occurring in the Hive and conversations we’ve had with Hive members. The primary guideline was that each suggestion should support our two research strands: Supporting youth interest-driven learning pathways and furthering innovation in the Hive network. Our first brainstorm of potential ways to support day-long events produced far too many candidates, and in the end we decided that 16 suggestions was probably a good target number to shoot for. After several rounds of revisions, we landed on a reasonable first draft for feedback from the Hive community.

Hive Meet Up Jumpstart picAt the November Hive community meet-up at WNET, we debuted our “Cheat Sheet” (the original framing we’d come up with) to Hive members and the responses overall seemed to indicate that this would be a useful resource (phew!). We passed out hardcopies and had members meet in small groups to “hack” the cheat sheet for about 10 minutes, then we all came back together for a whole group discussion. The feedback everyone gave was fantastic and helped us see where there were points of confusion. We took notes during the discussion and collected all the sheets people had marked up and any notes people had taken on our behalf (thank you again!)

In early December, we took every piece of feedback from the meet-up notes as well as the “hacked” cheat sheets where people wrote their thoughts and put them all into a google doc, grouping similar points and adding “+1s” to ones we thought were especially valuable. If multiple people seemed to say the same thing, that also signaled us that that was an important issue to pay attention to (for example: changing the “cheat sheet” framing to avoid the perception that this set of tips covered everything about such events; another one was clarifying the two roles, event host and station facilitator, that we were making recommendations for). We then discussed the consolidated and prioritized feedback and tried to come to some sort of consensus around how to change our current version while still keeping it short, sweet and usable.

Come mid-December, we were ready for the fun part — making our content look pretty! Lucky for us, Jess Klein had some spare cycles to work out a template for us, coming up with several great options, including a “recipe”-like format that would allow folks to cut out various tips and use them like a deck of cards, as well as the version we ended up with, which featured an array of colorful hexagons (a Hive visual brand “go-to”). In the end, we really liked the playful and flexible aspect of the hexagon design. Also, because it doesn’t use a ‘bullet-list’ convention, it encouraged us to pare down our sentences as much as possible.

Since we now have a word template, we’ll be able to pump out future Jumpstarts a bit more quickly than this first one. We’re looking forward to sharing more down the line!

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.

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