Fireside Chat: Starting a Learning Network in Your City

This article is cross-posted on the Hive Learning Network NYC blog.

This week the Hive Learning Network in New York City held a virtual fireside chat about how to start a learning network in your city. The chat was led by Hive NYC’s director Chris Lawrence with brilliant support by Lainie DeCoursy and Helen Lee.

What is a Hive?

The Hive network in NYC is a community of organizations that care about youth & learning. These include the MoMA, the American Museum of Natural History, Dreamyard, the New York Public Library, MOUSE, Eyebeam and over 30 more.

The network is driven by core beliefs such as: school is not the sole provider of education, learning should be driven by youth’s interests, and organizations must collaborate to thrive.

As Mark Surman describes it,

A community of orgs leveraging and building digital skills into they way they teach art, science, poetry, whatever …

… rolled up inside a distributed lab that is creating new curriculum and new technology …

… which, by the way, is a school that teaches web literacy.

Hive-­ness: How to Get It

At the Mozilla Festival in London, we experimented with a pop-up model of Hive. Combining programs from established learning networks in the US with London-based initiatives and schools, the Hive London Pop-Up was a fun two-day playground of digital learning and making.

Events like the Pop-Up showed the power of bringing these people & projects together.

Over the coming months, we’re looking to work with institutions and individuals who are interested in youth and digital learning in their city. Using some useful event formulas, we hope to test what works well in your neighborhood, share that experience back to the global community, and keep improving — all towards making a real difference in the way youth come to learn and play with the web.

Hacktivity Kits for the Hive

In an earlier post, I talked about the fabulous Hacktivity Kit developed by the Mozilla Hackasaurus team. Hive would like to use a similar approach to share its formula for a collaborative learning ecosystem with cities around the world.

In the fireside chat, Chris explained the three ideas for trying this out:

Hive Pop-­‐Up: A collaborative mini-­festival for youth, educators and families with curated, table‐top projects and activities. Bite-sized model of the energy of a Hive Learning Network.

Hive Hack Jam: Flexible programs based on hands-­on projects, media creation and webmaking. Just like a music jam, a hack jam gives participants the chance to make something and have others riff off of their work.

Hive Design Charette: Convene a cohort of interested organizations, educators, philanthropists and other creative people in a short, concentrated amount of time to build a strategic plan towards the launching of a Hive Learning Network.

Hive in Your City

The fireside chat had people from over 7 cities: NYC, Philadelphia, London, Barcelona, Berlin, Toronto, and Chicago — all interested in growing these educational opportunities.

Alina from Barcelona talked about the many events they’ve done in the city since the first Mozilla Festival in 2010. Heather shared how the meet-up she founded, LadiesLearningCode, fund their activities, Kasey discussed how to connect funding institutions in Philadelphia with a design charette, and Leon talked about his experiences in the UK.

Just as the festival in Barcelona catalyzed a community of practice, I hope a similar community can take root in London. With folks like Leon and Learn 4 Life, YoungRewiredState, Coder DoJo, Apps for Good, and Digital Me and all the other talented people who participated in the Hive Pop-Up, there is a great opportunity to build a learning network in London, and as we’re seeing, beyond.

What’s Next

The feedback from the fireside chat was quite positive. With tools like BigBlueButton, it’s increasingly easy to gather smart people online. It’s inexpensive, cost-efficient, and fun.

We agreed it would be great to hold another fireside chat in January. We’ll likely craft the discussion around activities people are trying out in their city, compare notes, and continue to work towards a Hacktivity Kit for youth & learning Hive-style.

Thanks to everyone who joined in the conversation!