An annual network-wide celebration and reflection of the year, Hive NYC’s State of the Hive (SOTH) meet-up took place on May 11th, 2016 at the Center for Social Innovation with 50 attendees from 44 member organizations. In addition to honoring members’ great work, Hive HQ wanted to utilize the time together to acknowledge recent transitions — from staff changes to the future of the Hive Digital Media Learning Fund — and discuss how they will impact the network. We also wanted an opportunity to collectively brainstorm directions for Hive NYC moving ahead.
Envisioning a stronger network
To get a better sense of where to start these conversations, we spent several weeks leading up to the SOTH gathering feedback from Hive NYC members about what they see as Hive’s value, potential, and areas for improvement. The responses we heard were insightful and rich with new ideas; members’ suggestions for strengthening the network ranged from being as precise as creating a user guide for Slack to as faceted as identifying stronger and more strategic partnerships to support Hive collaborations. What stood out to us most, however, was members’ genuine appeal for Hive to not only continue building a supportive peer learning space, but also to move into a more active role in connecting members and helping them change the systems in which they work.
In light of this feedback, we saw SOTH as an opportune moment to revisit Hive NYC’s core goals, which the network has developed collaboratively over the past few years as:
- Strengthen Hive NYC as a context for learning and innovation;
- Develop conditions for the spread and scale of Hive NYC ideas;
- Illustrate and develop youth trajectories and pathways; and
- Increase equity and access to education opportunities in NYC (Note: We added this goal to our list following the SOTH based on members’ input during the meet-up.)
For our first part of the day, we asked members to break into small groups and think about how to work towards these goals as a network given current needs, interests, and work environments using a summary of members’ feedback as a guide. Through this process, the following themes emerged:
Hive is well-positioned to engage in collective impact: There’s a strong interest in leveraging the expertise within Hive NYC to advocate for essential policy changes in NYC’s education system.
Membership and eligibility criteria should be more clearly defined: While members value the diversity and breadth of knowledge that an open membership process has brought to the network, it’s been challenging to build strong relationships and collaborations without a clear sense of who is actively part of the network and why. To create a more cohesive network, we need to develop more structured membership criteria that transparently details Hive’s values, expectations, decision-making processes, and participation pathways.
Create opportunities for deeper engagement: In all avenues for participating in Hive–from online communications channels to meet-ups to community calls–members want a chance to join in deeper conversations and more focused professional development and learning opportunities.
While many more thoughtful suggestions were raised, these stood out to us as our key focus areas, and will map our way throughout the summer and beyond as we work to strengthen Hive as a network of practice. In the next couple of weeks, we’ll be forming working groups focused on these topics so that we can collaboratively determine how to move them forward.
Hive member talks, inspired by Ignite
We designed the next part of the day to showcase the expansive range of work across Hive in a way that was both fun and accessible. Adapting the format used in Ignite talks, we asked 10 members to give speedy presentations about what they’ve been learning and working on over the past year. The talks they ended up crafting were dynamic and information-packed. Here’s a snapshot of what they covered:
- Lessons on collaboration
- Digital media production as tool for youth organizing and leadership
- Culturally responsive pedagogy
- Connected credentials and portfolios as alternative methods for assessing learning
- Computational thinking and personal expression
- How Hive members can collectively change NYC’s DoE and DYCD.
Stayed tuned for a follow-up post next week that will include a list of resources recommended by our speakers to further explore the ideas they presented.
For our closing note, we asked Chris Lawrence, Vice President of Learning at Mozilla to share the Foundation’s strategic priorities and how they will shape Hive NYC moving forward, highlighting the following:
- Mozilla main focus is advocating for the open web, digital inclusion, and web literacy.
- Mozilla’s strategic plan is heavily influenced and informed by Hive NYC’s approach to collaborative, innovative digital learning practices.
- Continued collaboration with learning communities like Hive NYC will strengthen Mozilla’s network model so that it can explore new participation methods and share its work in communities around the world.
While Mozilla has refined its focus on web literacy and digital inclusion, maintaining Hive as an healthy ecosystem through peer learning, collaborative RFPs, and experimenting with new ideas is essential to driving its priorities forward. The working groups we’re forming this summer will be key to defining how this will look in the network in the months and years ahead.
We’re excited to explore all of the ideas and trajectories that were generated during the event with you all over the next year. Thanks to all who contributed to our 2016 State of the Hive.
All photos in this post were taken by Christian Rodriguez, a NYC SALT alumn.