Jul 23 2014

Hive as a Platform for Building Solutions

Hive HQ, The Hive Network Effect

There are two basic realities that attend the work we are trying to do within the Hive.

The first is that, despite the rhetoric surrounding a present crisis in education, many solutions actually exist. All over the educational landscape there are exciting examples of bona fide solutions, such as the many cross-disciplinary, citywide programs for youth that leverage the full power of digital media to empower teens and educators through connected learning.  In fact, Hive Chicago’s website has been relaunched to better communicate the portfolio of programs (updates underway) that provide examples, and Hive Learning Networks globally are active generators of such solutions.  Yet we aspire for more.  Not just more solutions, but more solutions that meet our most persistent challenges.

The second reality is that, complex problems demand collaboration.  As an indication of this truth, we often know the symptoms of education’s many challenges, but we don’t always understand the underlying problems. Like a detective cracking a case by interviewing multiple people, getting to the root cause of any complex problem requires uncovering and synthesizing many diverse perspectives.  Gaining clarity about root causes will require collective insight.  And the problems–once they’re known–won’t be ones any of us can solve on our own, but will demand collective action.

12074606085_921a3f448e_zFundamentally our work is to amplify the collective intelligence of a committed community of educators to meet our biggest challenges and seize our unmet opportunities. We do that by incubating promising solutions, inviting a broader community to collaboratively develop them with us, then scaling and spreading them to make an impact.

So consider where we are and where we’re collectively going.

Solutions exist–that’s the status quo.  Yet, as impactful as our programs are they do not necessarily overcome all of the biggest challenges we encounter on the road to enacting connecting learning for Chicago’s teens.

We move beyond the status quo when solutions emerge that address our shared problems of practice–that’s innovation.  “Innovation” does not just mean “new”.  What we really want are innovations that are effective solutions, not novelties.

Finally, we aspire to develop the networked context where innovative solutions not only emerge from collaboration but begin to spread and scale in ways that have the power to improve lives: that’s a revolution that ultimately impacts more youth through a citywide network of opportunities to grow and learn.

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Hive is a platform on which to build the solutions that will spread and scale.  Hive Chicago’s evolving “Moonshots” process is a core part of that platform on which the entire network and even the city is being invited to build.  As our members and their partners collaboratively build together, the Moonshots process is improving the likelihood that the network will remain responsive to connected learning’s greatest challenges and opportunities.

This idea of a responsive organization operating as a platform on which others build should resonate with anyone who uses the web’s many collaboration tools–openly shareable docs, maps, and calendars.  Many of the most recognizable companies building the internet today have done more than provide a set of products for customers to passively consume, but have created a platform on which others are invited to collaboratively build upon and make their own.  Mozilla, the steward of Hive Chicago, has long created open platforms on which global communities build, and it continues to do the same through Hive events, Communities, and Networks globally.

The evolving elements in the process that Hive Chicago has undertaken to do this important work looks like this:

  • Aspirations expressed in our mission and vision reflect what we believe Chicago should look like when all learning counts.
  • Our shared goals are more specific about the ways in which we believe we can enact connected learning for more youth and adults.
  • Moonshots are our calls-to-action for the broader community, and invite contributions that will reduce the barriers to enacting connected learning.
  • A suite of open tools helps to organize this information, including: shared folders and documents on Google Drive; shared, remixable and open teaching resources using Webmaker Thimble; blogs; monthly meetups; Deep Dives; project portfolios; and more.
  • Continued support to spark and sustain innovation through small-dollar Moonshot funds to larger grants through the Hive Fund for Connected Learning.

And what are we asking Hive members and their collaborators to do?

  • Curate solutions. The role of Moonshot Affinity Groups is primarily to curate solutions, not primarily to produce them.
  • Propose exemplar solutions–ideas for solutions that would address the Moonshots in ways that are proposal-ready and detailed.
  • Propose seed solutions–partner-ready seeds of solutions that could grow into tangible contributions.
  • Gather resources–be informed by surveying the rich existing resources that should be leveraged.
  • Share a narrative, the clearest possible articulation of the problem. In complex problem spaces like the one in which we are trying to affect change, clarity about the underlying problems may be the greatest gift we can offer to the field.

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This is a journey.  It begins with the shared aspirations embedded in our network goals of equitable access, learning pathways, sustained innovation and external value. The journey continues from our goals to the Moonshots designed to address the challenges and opportunities we naturally meet along the road. If we are successful, we will achieve more than isolated successes but will arrive at innovative solutions that grow and spread.  Join us!

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