About the Project

Across New York City, Chicago, and beyond, a group of schools, museums, libraries, and youth programs have come together to implement unique educational innovations based on digital media and connected learning.  Spearheaded by the Institute of Play, the Hive Learning Networks, the Urban Libraries Council,  the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Association of Science – Technology Centers, and other collaborative partners, these groups seek out creative and relevant ways to engage young people’s interests, community awareness, and shape their educational outcomes. They have pioneered after-school and summer programs, YOUmedia drop-in sites, Learning Labs, and two schools as part of a growing set of innovations designed to educate youth for the 21st century.


The Connecting Youth: Digital Learning Research Project is a longitudinal, multi-method study of the youth, educators, and organizations involved in these innovations. The project’s team of twenty-plus researchers hails from universities across the country and brings diverse disciplinary lenses such as sociology, education, information and technology studies, and psychology to bear on our research questions. These include (but are not limited to) the following:

Student-level:

  • What are the characteristics of youth participating in the study programs and schools (e.g., demographics, socioeconomic status and academic performance)?
  • How do participants interact with and access digital media and communication technologies in their everyday lives?
  • How do participants' attitudes, behaviors, and competencies in the area of digital technology and learning change?
  • How do changes in behaviors and attitudes toward digital technology and learning vary based on program characteristics (e.g. size, cost, pedagogical style and type of activity offered) as well as student characteristics (e.g., gender, race and parent education)?

Educator and organizational-level:

  • How are the programs understood and implemented in schools and partnering cultural organizations?
  • What resources do educators draw on in accomplishing their work and what barriers and obstacles do they identify?
  • To what extent is institutional change evident in relationship to the programs and the networks of innovations that they aim to promote?

The purpose of this research has been to document activities and outcomes associated with these programs, use the findings to provide ongoing feedback to these implementing organizations for formative program improvement, as well as publish scholarship to improve academic and public understanding of the potential role of digital media in supporting youth development and educational outcomes.  This research was made possible by the generous support of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Hive Chicago
Hive New York City
   Key:    Aquarium    Art Project    Community    Education    Library    Media Project    Museum    Religious    Theater    Zoo