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The Hive Learning Network in New York


Over the last five years, Mozilla Hive NYC Learning Network (Hive NYC) has emerged as a dynamic force for learning and engagement. A thriving collaboration with 55 member organizations across the city, Hive NYC has engaged more than 20,000 youth in Connected Learning experiences through funded programs and public events.


Hive NYC is comprised of 55 non-profit organizations such as museums, libraries, code clubs, advocacy groups, higher education institutions, afterschool programs and tech start-ups. Together, they create equitable and accessible opportunities for young people to explore their interests and gain skills that prepare them for success in the information age.

Guided by the design values of Connected Learning, Hive NYC programs: engage youth around their personal interests, peer culture and civic participation; focus on production-centered, hands-on making and skill building; harness digital media, technology and the web to broaden and diversify learning opportunities; offer meaningful and supportive interactions with peers and mentors; and link learning experiences with schools and communities.

The ongoing commitment and contributions of Hive NYC members enable the network to pursue its mission and impact the lives of young people. Educators and institutions are empowered to innovate around the ideas, practices, and tools associated with Connected Learning through funded collaborations, meet-ups, events and online/offline communities of practice. By modeling networked behavior and open participation, educators in Hive NYC learn with and from one another, organizing to build new approaches that transform the city’s learning ecology and aid youth in discovering their agency and pursuing their passions.

Hive NYC programs primarily serve public school youth (middle and high school-aged) from all five boroughs. These programs help young people develop competencies in the following areas:

  • Advocacy/Social Justice
  • College and Career Readiness
  • Critical Thinking and Collaboration
  • Digital/Web Literacy
  • Media Production
  • Games, Systems and Design Thinking
  • Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math (STEAM)
  • Youth Development and Leadership

Hive NYC was founded through The MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning initiative to fuel collaborations between civic and cultural organizations and to build innovative educational practices. Network members have access to funding to support their work through The Hive Digital Media Learning Fund, a collaborative donor fund in The New York Community Trust. Mozilla became the steward of Hive NYC in 2011.

Hive NYC 2014 Road Map


The tagline “explore, create, share” has served as an organizing principle and rallying cry for Hive NYC. The phrase has become the shorthand for Hive’s collective efforts to develop a community of practice, reflection and exchange in which the transfer of learning and knowledge is valued and actively pursued.[[[1]]] If I were to amend the tagline to characterize future directions, I would add one word, equally short and simple—build. It is this word alone that serves to remind us of Hive NYC’s need to grow in a systematic way that involves both breadth and depth. In 2014 and beyond, Hive NYC will focus explicitly on building—developing practices to exploit shared and individual knowledge with an eye toward deploying what we’re learning better and with more precise impact.

The launch of the online project portfolio provides one recent example of how Hive NYC can build on current practices while remaining steadfast to its exploratory nature. Though the project gallery is uniform in look and feel, its modular backend provides a system that allows a diversity of ideas, outcomes and practices to be accessed and utilized. While it showcases Hive NYC's culture of production-centered, interdisciplinary, collaborative and networked learning, the portfolio is designed to make this culture visible and accessible. In this way, the portfolio provides a mechanism to accumulate a sampling of ideas, tools and practices and to present and contextualize them for Hive NYC and others.

Goals for 2014 and Beyond


Hive NYC HQ has identified three specific areas where it makes sense to build and focus in the years to come.

  • Illustrate and develop youth trajectories and pathways
  • Create context and develop conditions for spread and scale of Hive NYC tools, practices and frameworks
  • Strengthen Hive NYC as a context for innovation

One: Illustrate and Develop Youth Trajectories and Pathways


The focus on exploration, discovery and contribution can easily be applied to the learning experiences for Hive NYC’s youth stakeholders as well. When it comes to Hive NYC’s work with youth, our efforts to streamline and build means focusing on specific tools and mechanisms to scaffold youth experience. In 2014, Hive NYC HQ expands its workwith the Partnership for After School Education (PASE) to impact even more youth—bringing digital and web literacy skills to youth and educators in eighteen sites across Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens. This expansion highlights the growth and potential impact of Hive and its diverse tools and practices within the lives of youth.

In 2014, Hive NYC's youth-focused efforts will include implementing research recommendations and facilitating network-wide design work around recruitment strategies and goals. As Hive NYC HQ continues to develop web literacy and technology awareness amongst youth, we will continue to build upon our goal to help youth stakeholders acquire knowledge, connect to peers and master new skills through Hive NYC. This focus on Hive educators, events and programs as a point of contact will enable us to scaffold and shape youth interactions before, during and after the Maker Party.

Our work with youth underlines our core values as Mozillians to create a web that is knowable, interoperable and ours. For Hive NYC, web literacy is a holistic worldview. It goes beyond simply learning to code. Instead, web literacy acknowledges the blurring between online and offline, and it uses the web to interact and interplay with the world in complex ways.
Key Partners: Hive Research Lab, Connecting Youth: Digital Learning Research Project, Webmaker Community team, Mozilla Open Badges team, Achievery, Hive NYC + Digital Ready Cohort, Hive NYC Learning Network and its partners, Hive Youth.

Two: Create Context and Develop Conditions for Scale and Spread


Our recent work with research teams from Hive Research Lab and Cynthia E. Coburn‘s team at Northwestern University is greatly informing our current approaches to building Hive as a context to grow and sustain ideas. In 2014, Hive NYC will create opportunities to share these findings with our stakeholders and use them to help build common language around the means to achieve impact. Armed with better understandingof how to think about innovations—a technology, program model, curricula, practice etc.—and different mechanisms to further its reach—replication, adoption, adaptation etc.—Hive NYC HQ can better formulate supports and strategies to facilitate impact[[[2]]].

As grassroots Hive NYC projects reach and complete the second tier of funded support, and implement their projects with wider audiences, Hive HQ will continue to facilitate strategic partnerships with member organizations that have distinct capacities. In collaboration withHive Digital Media Learning Fund, Hive NYC HQ will explicitly strategize with members to build capacity and knowledge to empower them to build sustainable projects that further organizational objectives. For Hive HQ and its partners, this not only involves finding ways to streamline the delivery of information but also upgrading data and supports available to members from ideation through evaluation.
Key Partners: MacArthur Foundation, Mozilla Webmaker, Hive Digital Media Learning Fund, Hive Learning Networks Project, Hive NYC, Hive NYC Cohort.

Three: Strengthen Hive NYC as a Context for Innovation


Thanks to the great work of our research partners, Hive Research Lab, we know more than ever about Hive NYC and its relationship to the generation and furthering of ideas and practices. As Hive Research Lab continues its work with Hive NYC, Hive HQ will continue to work alongside them to improve and respond to the network as a place to develop and distribute innovation. More specifically, Hive HQ will focus on identifying and improving the conditions and scaffolds that we provide to members.

Hive Digital Media Learning Fund’s introduction of a new grant category designed to encourage members to pilot new ideas is one example of this renewed effort. Hive NYC HQ will focus on providing better and clearly identified supports to help members assess effective strategies and better leverage the network. AsRafi Santo has articulated in his work studying Hive NYC as a context for innovation, the learning that occurs in experimental programs must have some way to accumulate, circulate and be built upon in order to be leveraged for impact—however we may choose to define it.
Key Partners: Hive Research Lab, Connecting Youth: Digital Learning Research Project, Hive NYC Cohort, Hive NYC.

Building on What We're Learning


What's more difficult to fit into a road map are some of the larger trends and patterns that have been and will remain present in Hive NYC’s work. Whether it”s the research and design principles of Connected Learning or Mozilla’s mission, there are larger discourses that intersect and inform Hive NYC’s practice, goals and values. Web literacy and understanding the technology and culture of the web are two of these areas and ongoing themes that crosscut our work with youth and larger efforts to scale, spread and grow Hive innovations. We know that understanding the technology and culture of the web is critical to learning, work and citizenship in a connected world. In 2014 and beyond. Hive NYC’s approach to networked learning means growing present understandings of the culture (sharing/collaborating, open practice, remixing), mechanics (coding/scripting, design/accessibility, security, search) and citizenship (privacy, community participation) of the web.

In working with stakeholders, Hive NYC HQ engages several levers of engagement: knowledge-sharing and communication; financial support to spur collaboration and innovation; professional development and technology education; project consultation and outreach; and documentation and research. In 2014, Hive NYC will continue to engage these mechanisms while also implementing new strategies to exploit the network’s intellectual, conceptual and human resources. This focus on building Hive’s knowledge will depend on 1.) amplifying local voices to take collective and individual action, 2.) providing tools and information so members can innovate better, 3.) continuing to foster community knowledge and learning and 4.) streamlining communication mechanisms. As exemplified by Hive NYC’s new Cohort Meet-up blog, Hive NYC HQ will also provide clear places to accumulate new knowledge and will work to build capacity and strengthen supports to further the development and adoption of Hive NYC’s ideas, tools and practices.

Part of the theme of building and streamlining is an effort to better use the skills and models of what we’ve already developed—whether through encouraging grassroots efforts developed by members themselves or ideas that are brought to Hive NYC through outside partnerships. In 2014, we’ll use the vantage point of Hive HQ and the groundwork of the teams around us to look for opportunities to design and prototype incremental improvements in how Hive NYC supports its members. One such area is Hive NYC’s existing mechanisms for network engagement—the listserv, meet-ups, community calls, etc. We’ll aim to curate these interactions with more purpose so as to give stakeholders a clear idea of what to expect and how they might benefit. Hands-on workshops that bring Hive practitioners together to build on their ideas will continue throughout the year with a focus on technology education, opportunities for youth, and the development of ideas and models in preparation for distribution and curation of Hive NYC innovations.

As Hive NYC seeks to grow and exploit its current practices, the distributed laboratory approach with coordinated cross-network coordinatedseems closer and more attainable. Of course, Hive NYC’s ability to achieve even the best laid plans is based on the hard work, support and collaboration of the colleagues that surround us. In conceptualizing their own work in relation to broader organizational, community, political, and cultural contexts, our stakeholders increase Hive NYC’s capacity to explore, create, share and build, even more.

[[[1]]] Hive Pittsburgh’s remake learning website includes a similarly titled blog as does Mozilla India’s Hive India site.

[[[2]]] Frameworks drawn from internal memo to MacArthur Foundation by Cynthia E.Coburn.