Apr 13 2015

A Member-Driven Network – Part 1: NYU Research Recommendations

Hive HQ

Hive Chicago is a Member-driven Network.

As part of Mozilla’s Hive Learning Networks global initiative, Hive Chicago shares its mission, vision and emergent theory of change with all Hive Networks: mobilize educators in our communities to create connected learning experiences (that teach web literacy) and catalyze others to extend that work.

Yet, as a network of local organizations in Chicago, the unique goals, strategies and calls-to-action that the Hive Chicago adopts to advance that mission are directly informed by the collective aspirations, needs and challenges articulated by our individual, organizational, and community members.

In Chicago, members of the Hive collaboratively shaped a set of four goals in 2013: equitable access, learning pathways, innovative program design, and external value. To achieve these aspirational goals, Chicago membership further articulated six Moonshots in 2014. These are calls-to-action or issue areas that organize Moonshot working groups to generate solutions – onramps to learning, transportation, school engagement, parent engagement, youth voice, and data informed decision making.

The experience of exploring, creating and sharing collaboratively in the Network – either through meetups, online forums, blogs, funding opportunities, youth learning events, or other gatherings and venues for engagement – is also shaped to meet the needs of the network. Hive Chicago collects data on member activity, solicits experience feedback, and engages research partners to assess the effectiveness and to inform the design of our engagement platform and professional learning community.

What does that process look like? In this post – Part 1 of a 2-part series – we begin by reviewing the key findings of a recent NYU research report on Hive and how we engaged our community to solicit feedback. In the next post – Part 2 – we look at real-time participation data collected over the last 18 months and close by considering how Hive Leadership uses all of this information to craft their strategic community engagements.


The NYU Hive Research Report

The Hive Learning Networks partner with New York University, Connecting Youth: Digital Learning Research Project to conduct member-professional-educator and youth-participant experience research in Hive-funded, and un-funded activities. For three years, the NYU team has been conducting interviews, surveys, and observations to produce yearly reports that help paint an unbiased picture of the Hive experience.

In the March 2015 Meetup, Hive Chicago’” staff presented eight “Key Findings” from the NYU Academic Year 2013-14 Hive Report to attendees of the Meetup. Since the report covered a period of time several months in the past, Hive staff prompted them to reflect and provide feedback on whether the key findings had been addressed. The following is the exact text of the prompt:

Reflecting on the NYU report left Hive Leadership feeling encouraged that many of the issues raised by Hive membership in 2013 and 2014 have begun to be addressed leading into 2015.

Yet, the best judge of our work are the members of the Network and we wanted to get your feedback to see where we have been effective, and where we might continue to improve.

Please provide us with feedback on these NYU Key Findings. For each of the NYU Key Findings above, please consider the Key Finding and reflect on how it connects to your experience in the Hive, then leave a colored sticker dot to indicate:

  • GREEN – Being Addressed: this is an issue that has been adequately addressed, is currently being addressed adequately, or is not relevant to the current state of the Hive;
  • YELLOW – No Idea: this is an issue that you have no experience with or don’t know whether the Hive is addressing;
  • PURPLE – Critical Attention: this is an issue that has not seen any significant action from the Network and needs immediate attention;

The eight NYU Key Findings considered by our community:

Text and headings taken verbatim from NYU report Executive Summary.

  1. Defining Hive & Hive-like – Some [representatives] pointed out that their work had already been aligned with Hive’s goals, and that these learning models simply provided language to describe their existing practices.
  2. Educational Innovation – Representatives believed that educators from the school sector were missing from the network, and believed that Hive leadership should work to better bridge the gap between the informal and formal learning spaces.
  3. Network Growth – [Representatives] feared that a network that became too large could potentially dilute each organization’s ability to build meaningful relationships and collaborations.
  4. Beneficial Resources – The two most valued benefits of membership were access to funding and organizational peers.
  5. Desired Resources – Representatives highlighted the need for a resource hub where they could easily find information on all Chicago Hive member organizations, as well as their programs and projects.
  6. Desired Resources – [Representatives] requested toolkits with best practices, stronger connections between the various Hive Learning Networks and Hive Learning Communities, and a more organized structure for monthly meetups and Minigroups.
  7. Institutional Support – None of the interview participants reported facing institutional challenges regarding their Hive membership. However, the level of active organizational support they experienced still varied.
  8. Spread – There were mixed responses on whether concepts like connected learning and HOMAGO had spread beyond the Hive network. While some representatives believed that these concepts were spreading in their home institutions, others mentioned that their work had been aligned with these models before they were formally identified and promoted.

The results of the member feedback on the NYU Report are shown in the slideshow gallery below.

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How the NYU SY2013 Key Findings Hold Up Today

Community members, almost unanimously, felt that Hive had addressed issues around defining Hive, growing the network, and providing beneficial resources for members in the time since the NYU research was conducted in SY2013. That is very good news for the network, which as been defining mission, vision, goals and Moonshots for much of 2014 while also undergoing an almost two-fold expansion, from just over 30 members to over 60 in 2015.

The community perspective on their own institutional support for the Hive continued to vary and clear evidence for the spread of Hive-like ideas remains somewhat unclear. For the former, Hive has done more to engage organizations at multiple levels with special yearly executive breakfasts and through events like Hive Chicago Buzz.

There is also a developing effort in Hive Chicago to improve our channels and networks for communicating and spreading ideas. This is happening through an evolved perspective on membership, through more sophisticated use of the Fund, and through diversified engagements. In particular, our community should look forward to more “Hive Dive” events in 2015, where Hive members and the broader community of teachers, educators, parents, administrators, and others will intermingle to learn more about Hive learning innovations.

Our community feels united that there is still room for improvement with engaging formal educators in our innovative work and making the products of our work easy to find and access. Making our stuff easier to find might be an easy fix: make better use of our website, host more Hive Dives, or leverage other working in the open channels. But connecting with the formal education community is a critical Hive target for 2015. You can look forward to more developments in this area for sure.


Part 2: Real-time Feedback Channels

In addition to the NYU Report, Hive Chicago continuously collects network feedback directly through surveys at network engagements and indirectly through tracking participation activity, event attendance, and organizational profiles. In Part 2, we’ll explore the data collected through these channels and how they are used together with the information in the NYU report above to structure our plans for 2015.


The post A Member-Driven Network: Research, Data & Feedback for 2015 appeared first on omnignorant.

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