Networked-based Design Research & Participatory Knowledge Building

The resources and research in this toolkit from a practical question faced by many informal educators: How do we effectively connect youth to new learning experiences? Hive Research Lab (HRL) explored this problem of practice within the Hive NYC Learning Network, a community of informal educational organizations dedicated to supporting digital learning. In the network, we came to call this the “brokering problem,” one that was oriented towards supporting long-term and interest-driven youth pathways that spanned multiple contexts.

In order to investigate this issue, the Hive Research Lab team drew on a variety of methodologies, including networked improvement, co-design, design-based research, and participatory knowledge building. Researchers and practitioners worked together to identify a persistent problem of practice, collaboratively designed new interventions to tackle the problem, iteratively tested them, and looked together across these experiments, along with broader practices, to produce new knowledge that might help other practitioners and researchers in their work. This toolkit represents a distillation of that knowledge in the form of practice briefs, research reports and case examples.

Rather than focusing on development of whole programs, curricula or technologies, the research and practice teams aimed at developing and understanding new organizational routines that focused on brokering, with an aim that they might be more easily taken up by other organizations facing similar challenges.

The model below highlights how both researchers and various groups of practitioners – design partners and working group members, all members of the broader Hive NYC Learning Network – collaborated in this project to produce the resources in this toolkit. Of course, the process in practice is less clean cut than a model like this suggests. Some of the collaborative design experiments didn’t provide clean and clear practices that could be recommended to others, so in some cases we shared more about the process and what was learned. In other cases, practices were shared by network members as existing approaches they used and weren’t part of the design-based research cycles we undertook with design partners. Broadly, we aimed to put together as many accessible resources, whether in form of practice briefs, case studies, or more traditional research that we felt could be useful to educators and researchers that care about supporting youth pathways.

CS-Paths Method Model