CS-Paths Design Research Initiative

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How might we support young people to pursue computing and digital media pathways that go beyond a single program experience?



CS-Paths is a context for the design and iteration of practical innovations that support youth pathways in computing and digital making through brokering learning opportunities within and across informal learning organizations. Brokering is means of supporting identity development, social capital building and long-term, interest-driven learning across settings through actively connecting program participants to new learning opportunities like out of school programs, internships, events like hack jams and meet-ups, and more. Led by Hive Research Lab (HRL), CS-Paths is a collaborative initiative with organizations in the Hive NYC Learning Network. Over the course of 2016 and 2017, we engaged in processes of co-design, iterative testing and theory building that produce insights and solutions around supporting youth pathways in computer science and digital making.

Partner organizations and HRL collaborated on iterative cycles of co-design, implementation and evaluation in order to put into place practical “brokering interventions” throughout the project. Together, we worked to find out how small changes to the ways that youth development organizations already work – modest new pedagogical practices within programs, new organizational routines, integration of simple communication tools, augmentations to existing professional development – might help support youth pathways. Rather than building massive new programs and technologies, we focused on tweaking practices that can be easily tested and circulated.

As part of CS-Paths, we worked intensively with a small number of organizations and also ‘worked in the open’ in the Hive NYC Network as the work unfolded through a CS-Paths Working Group. The working group was an open space where a larger group of organizations interested in these issues engaged, contributed ideas, gave feedback on new approaches, made sense of data coming out of the more intensive design research cycles, and considered how practices might be relevant to their own learning environments.

What we collectively discovered will is compiled in the Brokering Youth Pathways Toolkit and will be made available both to other organizations in New York City as well to the broader field of informal learning organizations aiming to support youth pathways in computing and digital making.



Support for the the CS-Paths Initiative comes from:



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History of the Initiative:

Hive Research Lab’s focus on brokering began in 2014, when we facilitated an all-day summit with members of the Mozilla Hive NYC community to design supports for youth pathways. Collectively, we identified the key strategy of brokering future learning opportunities to youth as a means of increasing their social capital and helping them assemble their learning pathways. We define brokering as a practice in which educators: 1) Connect youth to meaningful future learning opportunities including events, programs, internships, individuals and institutions that will support youth in continuing their interest-driven learning; and 2) Enrich youth social networks with adults, peers, and institutions that are connected to and have knowledge of future learning opportunities. Since the release of a community-developed white paper on brokering, there has been a groundswell of interest in ways to better understand and enact brokering, both among the research and practice-oriented communities. To access the white paper, visit http://bit.ly/HRL_brokering