Hive Learning Networks underpin a growing movement to put Connected Learning principles into action. The networks’ laboratory approach and catalytic funding model re-imagines how learning is organized and supported across youth-serving organizations in urban centers and includes three key elements: funded partnerships, cross-disciplinary collaboration and the incubation of transformative learning experiences for youth.
Hive NYC and Hive Chicago were the first learning networks founded by The MacArthur Foundation in 2009. Later joined by Hive Pittsburgh and Hive Toronto in 2012, these four networks use their resources and expertise to provide project consultation, catalytic support, distribute and curate local innovations and forge new learning pathways for local youth. The model has since been remixed in ways that allow for other cities to leverage the unique assets of their local communities, and bring together organizations and learners to collaborate, connect and thrive.
In addition to the full Hive Learning Networks, there are also burgeoning Hive Learning Communities where individuals and organizations are adopting a networked approach to support life-long learning, offer professional development and build opportunities for youth. The following cities are mobilizing around Connected Learning as they link organizations and individual mentors with communities to incubate youth projects that are interest-powered, peer-supported, production-centered, open, and shared, collaborative, and inter-connected.
As our reach grows and new Hive Learning communities emerge, we continue to explore how to better link to, learn from and support one other, while thinking strategically about how to make it easier for great programs to spread, and to connect mentors with shared affinities to generate richer experiences for youth.
We are in the process of creating a how-to manual and resource library for those interested in exploring networked innovation models and developing a Hive Learning Community.
The Mozilla and MacArthur Foundations are ideal partners to, in the words of Ethan Zuckerman, create programs that are “thick, impactful and go to scale.” The Hive Learning Network model represents a strategy to advance innovation and put Connected Learning into action.
In the past two years, the Mozilla Foundation has played a major role in growing Hive, building capacity, and facilitating some remarkable learning. The success of Hive Learning Networks to date has served as the foundation for Mozilla’s work with educators, youth development experts, technologists and makers–referred to as the Webmaker Mentor Community.
This work is gaining momentum as Hive NYC, Hive Chicago, Hive Pittsburgh and Hive Toronto are already helping to transform their local learning ecosystems. The model is spreading to other cities, some with support, others spontaneously. Together, they have an opportunity to catalyze a global movement that is at once international and hyperlocal.
The power of each Hive springs, in no small part, from its local members, relationships, and partnerships. The unique assets of the community, integrated digitally and face-to-face, provide a learning ecology in which youth can discover their agency, pursue their passions, and learn. While there may be power in connecting with kids regionally, there is no substitute for meeting them in their own neighborhoods, in a time and context in which they can explore their own interests and abilities.
Since MacArthur began the Digital Media & Learning initiative in 2004, a steady drumbeat of research, innovation and collaboration has been transforming learning in many education communities. With the launch of the Connected Learning design principles in 2011, a theoretical roadmap was established to underpin and spread aligned work. Connected Learning was lead by DML researchers and deeply informed by cornerstone initiatives like the Quest To Learn schools, YOUmedia and Hive. The diverse yet linked DML portfolio and the Connected Learning principles have provided a fertile ground for reimagining learning in a digital age.
We know that formal educational systems need to be a hub in a larger network of learning opportunities. We know that Connected Learning provides a design framework to build transformative experiences by linking individual mentors and educators to organizations and networks. We know that emerging models like Hive – as well as a focus on tools, content, and community – is working. This, combined with the spontaneous emergence of real, hyper-localized activity around the world, illustrates the opportunity to transition from an inspired initiative to global movement.