Research

What is the research base?

The philosophy of YOUmedia’s design is based on research by leading thinkers in the field. Central to the design and programming is what Professor Mizuko Ito and colleagues learned from interviewing and observing more than 700 youth. From those interviews, they identified three stages of learning that kids progress through with digital media.

  • They “hang out” with friends in social spaces such as Facebook.
  • They “mess around” or tinker with digital media, making simple videos, playing online games, or posting pictures in Flickr.
  • They “geek out” in online groups that facilitate exploration of their core interests.

They called it HOMAGO. Hanging Out. Messing Around. Geeking Out.

Knowing this, designers and educators at the Harold Washington Public Library in Chicago built a space that reflected, and capitalized on, this style of learning. YOUmedia Chicago is a vibrant, loud, fun, and immersive spot. And its success has been astounding.

Kids come in after school and plop on the bright green couches and hang with their friends. Soon, though, they see mentors working with others on cool projects across the room. Some are creating video. Others are mixing music.

They get curious. They check out a few options and start messing around with some equipment. A mentor stops by, helps tweak this or improve on that.

After awhile, they might stop by a workshop, and before you know it, they’re geeking out. They’re trailing a group of kids with a video camera, telling a needed story about their neighborhood. Or they’re mixing a new soundtrack for a friend’s poetry. Or they’re writing a script for the zombie video their friend is producing.

The layout of the space, the mentors, and the equipment all make the progression from hanging out to messing around to geeking out possible. In the end, a YOUmedia space allows (and guides) a young person to follow his or her passion in a self-directed quest to learn.

To read more:

Connected Learning

More broadly, YOUmedia represents a well-planned and thoughtful way of connecting to the learning that happens beyond the classroom. Learning never stops. Kids continue learning after they leave the classroom, as they're visiting a museum, or writing fan fiction on a Harry Potter website, or hanging out with their friends. 

Connected learning is learning that is socially connected, interest-driven, and oriented toward educational, economic, or political opportunity. Connected learning is realized when a young person is able to pursue a personal interest or passion with the support of friends and caring adults, and is in turn able to link this learning and interest to academic achievement, career success or civic engagement. This model is based on evidence that the most resilient, adaptive, and effective learning involves individual interest as well as social supports and recognition. YOUmedia connects learning by offering programs and experiences that bridge youth interests, academics and peer culture.

The core principles of connected learning are reflected in YOUmedia's approach as well because it is:

  • interest driven
  • peer supported
  • academically oriented
  • production centered
  • networked
  • shared purpose

Learn more about connected learning on the connectedlearning.tv site.

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The Hanging Out area is a relaxed spot where youth can eat (yes—allowing food is a good idea), read, talk with friends, and check Facebook or other social media or email. As its name suggests, it’s a pressure-free introduction to the culture. The Messing Around area allows youth to tinker with digital media. The space should have a variety of equipment so youth can explore their interests by using laptops, gaming consoles, recording equipment, video and traditional cameras, drawing pads, and more. The goal is to spark an interest.

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