What is a Hive Pop-Up?


For the project I’m working on for Mozilla, we’re exploring whether or not there’s an opportunity for Toronto to create its own Hive Learning Network. So far, it seems like we have the right ingredients: kids and parents who are interested in participating in the sorts of events that a Hive Learning Network would support, and organizations who see the power that comes from collaborating and sharing resources. The model for Hive Toronto might be similar to the network that exists in New York City, or we might put our own spin on it. But either way, I’m excited about the potential.

What is a Hive Learning Network?

Hive Learning Networks are coalitions of youth-serving organizations dedicated to transforming the learning landscape, creating new opportunities for youth to explore their interests, develop new skills and follow their passions through the educational application of digital media and technology.  They collaborate on projects that leverage digital tools around youth interests from science, art and social justice to filmmaking, hip-hop and skateboarding.

Core beliefs:

  • School is not the sole provider in a community’s educational system
  • Youth need to be both sophisticated consumers and active producers of digital media
  • Learning should be driven by youth’s interests
  • Digital is the glue and amplifier for connected learning experiences
  • Out-of-school time spaces are fertile grounds for learning innovation
  • Organizations must collaborate to thrive

Hive NYC was founded in 2008 and currently has 38 members ranging in size and focus, from The American Museum of Natural History and The Museum of Modern Art to Girls Write Now and Tribeca Film Institute.  Through the Hive Digital Media Learning Fund in The New York Community Trust, network members have access to grants every six months to support their innovative and collaborative ideas and projects.

So, What’s a Hive Pop-up?

A Hive Pop-Up is a style or format for an event organized by members of a Hive Learning Network, or by groups who are exploring the possibility of forming a Hive Learning Network. (Currently, there are groups exploring this in Toronto, San Francisco and London, UK, among others.) The main feature of the Hive Pop-Up is that it is made up of different stations (usually between 4 and 10). Each station is run by a different organization (or a couple of organizations collaboratively), and at each station kids have the opportunity to work on a different project. At the Hive Pop-Up that I organized in February, we didn’t have a set schedule or “rotation plan” – kids could wander around and join in the fun at any station that caught their attention. Lots kids tried all the stations, many tried a few, and some kids stayed at one station the whole time.

Although there are lots of ways to run Hive Pop-Up events, here’s my recipe:

Venue: Select a space that isn’t a traditional classroom. I love holding learning events in the Mozilla Community Space and at the Centre for Social Innovation in Toronto, but if you don’t have spaces like these in your city, a community centre or library will work.

Time: 1 pm – 4:30 pm (Offer attendees a snack around 3:30 pm, and do demos at 4 pm)

Number of participants: Depends on the size of the space. If you’re not charging for the event (most Hive Pop-Up events are free), you should be prepared for some drop off. At the Hive Pop-Up event that I ran at Mozilla in February, 55 kids signed up, and about 50 kids came. (There was less drop off than I expected.) Since we had six stations set up, this meant that there were 5-10 kids at each station at all times, which worked well. Also, if you’re expecting parents to accompany their kids, you may want to consider setting up a “Parent Zone” – a place for parents to go and socialize, which can help kids feel more comfortable as they explore the different stations. We offered coffee, tea and snacks in the “Parent Zone” at the February Hive Pop-Up, and also had Mark Surman run a sort of focus group with the parents to talk about digital literacy and web making skills.

Computers: All of the learning events I’ve run so far (except for Girls Learning Code) have been BYOL – bring your own laptop. This isn’t a great answer (there are a lot of kids who don’t have access to laptops), but it’s the best most of us can do for now. It’s a good idea to try and have a few extra laptops on hand for kids who aren’t able to bring one. You can also try having kids work in pairs.

Signs: Make signs so that it’s clear to the kids what each station is about.

Volunteers: Have tons! You need to have pretty close to a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio of kids to volunteers when teaching new digital skills (at least, that’s what I’ve found to work best), and you’ll need some extra people to help with registration, set up, take down, etc. I usually make “Volunteer” one of the ticket types on the event’s registration page, and found that it’s worked really well.

Handouts: It’s a good idea to have handouts at each station to help kids get started with their projects more quickly, and help them if they get stuck. They should almost be step-by-step recipes, including some additional challenges for kids who complete the basic project quickly. Handouts can make the job of the volunteer instructors at each station a little easier.

Connect the dots: Look for ways to have the different projects play into each other. At a Hive Pop-Up in Tokyo, they had kids create games in Scratch and then remix a popular gaming website to include the game they’d created using Hackasaurus. Collaborations at Hive Pop-Ups a great way to start getting Hive Learning Network members to start thinking about ways their organization might be able to collaborate. You never know where ideas for interesting, collaborative projects might come from!

Use it as a chance to get the word out about what Hive members are doing: One of the cool things about Hive Pop-Ups is that they are really effective for showcasing the work of a whole bunch of like-minded organizations. It can be a great opportunity for Hive members (or potential members) to get the word out about what they’re doing to a new or expanded audience. Encourage each station to have brochures, business cards, etc. about their organization and what they do. A Hive Pop-Up can be really worthwhile from a marketing perspective!

I’ll other things as I think of them, but that’s a good start! I can’t wait to put together another Hive Pop-Up event in Toronto!

Defining the role of a teacher


(From Seth Godin’s “Stop Stealing Dreams“)

It used to be simple: the teacher was the cop, the lecturer, the source of answers, and the gatekeeper to resources. All rolled into one.

A teacher might be the person who is capable of delivering information. A teacher can be your best source of finding out how to do something or why something works.

A teacher can also serve to create a social contract or environment where people will change their posture, do their best work, and stretch in new directions. We’ve all been in environments where competition, social status, or the direct connection with another human being has changed us.

The Internet is making the role of content gatekeeper unimportant. Redundant. Even wasteful.

If there’s information that can be written down, widespread digital access now means that just about anyone can look it up. We don’t need a human being standing next to us to lecture us on how to find the square root of a number or sharpen an axe.

(Worth stopping for a second and reconsidering the revolutionary nature of that last sentence.)

What we do need is someone to persuade us that we want to learn those things, and someone to push us or encourage us or create a space where we want to learn to do them better.

If all the teacher is going to do is read her pre-written notes from a PowerPoint slide to a lecture hall of thirty or three hundred, perhaps she should stay home. Not only is this a horrible disrespect to the student, it’s a complete waste of the heart and soul of the talented teacher. Teaching is no longer about delivering facts that are unavailable in any other format.

[Note from Heather: This post from Seth Godin makes me think about what we’re doing at Ladies Learning Code. Somehow, we’ve made almost 1000 women (and men) into passionate learners – for a day, at least – about a topic they otherwise might not explore. Sure, we use slides. But there’s something about the experience that puts Ladies Learning Code workshops in a new category. This isn’t school.

I find it pretty interesting to note that most of our Lead Instructors and Mentors are in a teaching role for the first time ever when they join us at a Ladies Learning Code workshop. And no one on the Ladies Learning Code team has a background in education. The funny thing about that is that it might be why what we’re doing works.]