YOUmedia Learning Labs are models of how to engage and encourage youth in self-directed learning. The philosophy of YOUmedia’s design is based on research by leading thinkers in the field of digital media and learning. Central to the design and programming is what Professor Mizuko (“Mimi”) Ito and colleagues learned from an ethnographic study of over 700 youth: from those interviews, they identified three zones of learning activity that young people engage using digital media:
- They “hang out” with friends in social spaces such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
- They “mess around” or tinker with digital media, making simple videos, playing online games, or posting pictures on social media.
- They “geek out” in online groups that facilitate exploration of their core interests.
The researchers called it HOMAGO: Hang Out, Mess Around, Geek Out.
HOMAGO shows how Learning Labs are not solely about creating new spaces, but can also be about reframing spaces and programs that already exist. Schools, community programs, and afterschool programs have all found ways to make their settings more interest-driven, more production-centered, and more social for the young people and mentors in them. Another way to get started with YOUmedia Learning Labs is to learn more about the Connected Learning and to apply the those design principles to your own work with youth. For an example, see how staff at the Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago took up the YOUmedia principle of HOMAGO—Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out—for their work in this guidebook.