Since January 1, 2018, stewardship of Hive Chicago has transitioned from Mozilla to a new local non-profit, the Chicago Learning Exchange (CLX). Please visit us at chicagolx/joinus to learn how you and your organization can join our growing community. The Hive is still the Hive.

Jan 27 2016

Hive Chicago Buzz 2016 Recap

#hivebuzz, Hive Global, Hive HQ

On January 22-23, 2016, Mozilla’s Hive Chicago Learning Network held its second annual Hive Chicago Buzz, a two-day celebration and hack day hosted by Blue 1647 and Efebina’s Cafe.  Like the first annual event in 2015, the goal was simple: to activate solutions to shared challenges in education.

Hive members, partners and youth came together with the belief that improvement in education depends on our ability to work together to build solutions to shared problems. Recognizing that strong solutions are built on strong platforms, Mozilla is ensuring Hive’s educational leaders can use the tools and practices of the internet as a global public resource open and accessible to all as they solve challenges we all share.

Event Highlights: Plenty of Buzz

  • 150 people from 5 Hive cities (Chicago, Kansas City, NYC, Pittsburgh, Toronto) and at least three countries
  • 27 Session: 13 Skillshares (45 or 90 minutes) and 14 Working Groups (4 hours each)
  • Plenty of #hivebuzz across the interwebs including personal reflections like Katie Miller’s blog post “The Kindness of Strangers: A trip to Hive Chicago Buzz 2016
  • Inspiring remarks from Hive members and partners:
    • Andrea Saenz, Deputy Commissioner, Chicago Public Library
    • Gabrielle Lyon, Vice President Education and Experience, Chicago Architecture Foundation
    • Maria Hibbs, Executive Director, Hive Chicago Fund for Connected Learning at the Chicago Community Trust
  • And most importantly, the activation of solutions to shared challenges and unmet opportunities. Read on for deets.

Like our annual Mozilla Festival in London, Hive Chicago Buzz is designed to be a place where you can:

Come with an idea and leave with a community.



Day 1: Many Reasons to Celebrate in 2015

When you’re gathering to tackle big challenges, every now and then it’s nice to have a big party. During our celebration on Day 1, we recognized some of the accomplishments of the past year, many of which were activated at Hive Chicago Buzz 2015.

We celebrated some important recognition that our shared work received.

  • March 2015 – Hive was invited by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to a conversation on techquity at his monthly roundtable examining the role of technology to broaden equity for all learners
  • Oct 2015 – Digital Promise and EdSurge awarded Mozilla Hive Chicago with its Better Together Award for Digital Innovation in Learning for “engaging multiple stakeholders in continuous improvement”
  • Nov 2015 – Hive educators, staff, and youth traveled to London to share our work throughout the Mozilla Festival, including from the MozFest mainstage
  • Dec 2015 – the year ended with Hive featured prominently in the National Education Technology Plan under the heading of “Leveraging the Power of Networks: Cultivating Connections Between Schools and Community Institutions”

And we celebrated some important outcomes of our shared work with a gallery walk of poster highlights.

Day 2: A Strong Start to 2016

Here’s a quick recap of a few of the 27 sessions offered at the event, each of which relates to one of our identified issue areas, or Moonshots:

  • Re:Imagine
    • Have you ever had to turn away youth from a program for which there are more applicants than spaces?
    • Last year the Art Institute of Chicago’s Teen Council held its Re:Imagine overnight event for 100 teens but had more than 500 applicants. This Onramps project is refining the tools and processes to target those engaged youth who we aren’t able to accept into our programs.
    • This group’s outputs will be applicable to other Hive orgs who share the same challenge of creating more onramps to learning pathways for engaged youth.
  • Mapping
    • Responding to the need for a more dynamic mappings of Hive network members, their assets, and gaps in youth opportunities citywide, this session brought together members and developers to build the network maps we need.
    • Maps like this example help us identify places in the city where additional resources should be directed by visualizing travel times required to reach a Hive member organization’s location–such as the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum– from any location in the city.
    • Check out this recap from our colleagues at the Mozilla Science Lab:
  • Schuber (“skoo-ber”, as in “School Uber”)
    • Building on momentum from the 2015 Youth Ideas Hack presented by Mikva Challenge with support from Smart Chicago, Microsoft, and others, this youth-led group refined their designs for a mobile ride-sharing app to enable parents and teens to carpool to school.
  • Vice Versa Tech
    • Another youth-driven concept, also inspired by Mikva’s Youth Ideas Hack, would enable educators to leverage the technological skills of their youth, giving teens the opportunity to share what they know, thus supporting peer-to-peer learning among educators and their youth.
    • At Hive Chicago Buzz, the group created storyboards to illustrate the knowledge sharing process and tools.
  • Credentialing Connected Leaders
  • Digital Corps
    • As another demonstration of the cross-city spread and scale of successful program models between Hive cities, this project seeks to extend the success of Hive Pittsburgh’s Digital Corps project to explore how the resources of Hive educators could be leveraged to support CPS educators, tech coordinators, and youth.  
    • A Digital Corps pilot concept would mobilize Hive educators to provide on-the-ground assistance to educators incorporating digital and web technology into their connected learning experiences for teens.

What’s Next? Here’s How You Can Contribute

To ensure that these early outputs continue to grow, we need the input of many minds, voices, and hands.  Visit our Join Us page to sign up for mailing lists, join our community discussion on Slack, or to RSVP for any of our upcoming monthly meetups held the third Thursday of each month, 9am-12pm.

For more information about Mozilla’s leadership development opportunities, of which Hive Learning Networks are one project, read more at

Many Thanks!

We would like to thank our many members, funders, partners, youth attendees, and colleagues who made this event a phenomenal success, including:

  • Hive member organizations, their educators and youth for facilitating and contributed to sessions;
  • Hive’s Advisory Committee members for their stewardship of Moonshot projects;
  • Funding partners who make our work possible, including the MacArthur Foundation, the Chicago Community Trust, and the Susan Crown Exchange;
  • Blue 1647 and Efebina’s Cafe for hosting us in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood;
  • Fig Catering for food, beverages and cake;
  • Chicago Art Department for visually capturing the event;
  • Our many Mozilla colleagues, partners, and volunteers.




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