Research

There are several resources and reports that can help you and your lab understand the history, reach, and context of the YOUmedia Learning Labs Network. They are gathered in this section to help you get started with ideas and practices, gathered and written by researchers and by network members themselves.

The Post-Emergent Library Makerspaces Action-Research Project

The start-up phase of developing a library makerspace is exciting; it involves construction, new equipment, and broad, innovative thinking. But what are the issues that a library makerspace faces in the years after it has opened, and how are these challenges different than those initial start-up challenges? Five libraries with makerspaces in the YOUmedia Learning Labs Network spent a year gathering research around identifying and defining this “post-emergent” phase in a makerspace’s life, and wrote a framework forthe post-emergent moment. This framework and action research project is an example of the YOUmedia Learning Labs Network’s capacity for cross-institution, inquiry-driven research.

The Digital Youth Network, Cultivating Digital Media Citizenship in Urban Communities

The popular image of the “digital native”—usually depicted as a technically savvy and digitally empowered teen—is based on the assumption that all young people are equally equipped to become innovators and entrepreneurs. Yet young people in low-income communities often lack access to the learning opportunities, tools, and collaborators (at school and elsewhere) that help digital natives develop that necessary expertise. This book describes one approach to address this disparity: the Digital Youth Network (DYN), an ambitious project to help economically disadvantaged middle-school students in Chicago develop technical, creative, and analytical skills across a learning ecology that spans school, community, home, and online.

Written by Brigid Barron, Kimberley Gomez, Nichole Pinkard and Caitlin K. Martin, the book reports findings from a pioneering mixed-method three-year study of DYN and its nurturing of imaginative production, expertise with digital media tools, and the propensity to share these creative capacities with others. Through DYN, students, despite differing interests and identities—the gamer, the poet, the activist—were able to find some aspect of DYN that engaged them individually and connected them to one another. Finally, the authors offer generative suggestions for designers of similar informal learning spaces.

The Learning Labs in Libraries and Museums: Transformative Spaces for Youth

This report highlights the findings and impacts of three years of IMLS and MacArthur funding, from its beginnings in Mimi Ito’s research of young people’s media practices in everyday settings as an anthropology professor at the University of California, Irvine, to collective outcomes, institutional transformation, and expansive learning ecosystems that have emerged and continue to grow as a result of this initiative.

Related theory and research

For an overview of the development of early Learning Labs, evaluation reports produced by the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research, evaluators for the initial YOUmedia Learning Lab at Harold Washington Library in Chicago, cover the design, development, and theory of the YOUmedia model. Reports from the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub discuss related theory and research:

Penny Bender Sebring, Eric R. Brown, Kate M. Julian, Stacy B. Ehrlich, Susan E. Sporte, Erin Bradley, and Lisa Meyer  (2013). Teens, Digital Media, and the Chicago Public LibraryChicago: Consortium on Chicago School Research, University of Chicago.

Kiley Larson, Mizuko Ito, Eric Brown, Mike Hawkins, Nichole Pinkard, and Penny Sebring (2013).  Safe Space and Shared Interests: YOUmedia Chicago as a Laboratory for Connected Learning. In Teens, Digital Media, and the Chicago Public Library. Digital Media and Learning Research Hub, Irvine, CA.

Mizuko Ito, Kris Gutiérrez, Sonia Livingstone, Bill Penuel, Jean Rhodes, Katie Salen, Juliet Schor, Julian Sefton-Green, and S. Craig Watkins (2013). Connected Learning: An Agenda for Research and Design. Digital Media and Learning Research Hub, Irvine, CA.