12529 BB: Designing to Bridge Contexts in a Learning Ecosystem

06/12/2015 @ 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM
The Orpheum B

Organizers: Stacy Kehoe, Kaleen Povis, Marti Louw
Presenters: Taiji Nelson, Nina Barbuto, Dustin Stiver, Ani Martinez, Tom Akiva

Format: This panel will consist of researchers and practitioners who collaborated on three projects that focused on overcoming cross-context barriers that exist in regional learning ecosystems. The panel will begin with an overview of regional network initiatives followed by research/practice teams that will briefly present on the project they implemented. Participants will then be able to interact directly with presenters in breakout sessions that will allow for deeper conversations around methods, design, implementation, and future work.

Overview: Researchers and practitioners recognize learning as a dynamic process that occurs across contexts of development (Brofenbrenner, 1979; Mahoney, Larson, Eccles, & Lord, 2005). Home and school are the two contexts that have dominated research on learning, but in the past two decades our metropolitan learning landscapes have seen a significant increase in informal learning environments and demand for educator-facilitated and peer-supported experiences for youth (Afterschool Alliance, 2014). As enrollment in organized out-of-school time (OST) opportunities has risen, we’ve also seen our educational landscapes reveal stark social-class and racial disparities in learner engagement with these contexts (Phillips, 2011). The expansion of OST environments and persistent disparity in access has led to research and practice collaborations across the Pittsburgh region that strive to a) further understand these challenges and b) design interventions that facilitate equitable access to high-quality, cross-context learning experiences.

A program officer from a local Pittsburgh foundation will discuss how the development of a connected learning network has benefited students, educators, schools, and other learning organizations across the region. The Kids+Creativity Network consists of over 200 organizations that span informal and formal learning boundaries. The panel will then highlight projects that drew on local knowledge (from learners, parents, and educators) to overcome common cross-context barriers that persist in regional learning ecosystems. Each project focused on a particular cross-context pathway: connecting school and OST; connecting home and OST; and connecting technology expertise to OST contexts that traditionally focus on socio-emotional development outcomes. Facilitating equity in access for traditionally underrepresented learners was a core design objective for each project.

The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy team will discuss the design of an intervention that scaffolds learner movement on a pathway between multiple partner high schools and an intensive summer OST program. The Assemble team will discuss the work of a community arts and technology space in developing outreach materials that effectively connect homes in surrounding communities to their programming. They will discuss the development of tools to better understand how parents/caregivers become aware of OST opportunities for their children, as well as the decision-making criteria that parents use to support their children’s attendance in technology-rich programming. The Digital Corps team will describe a regional program model that linked technology experts to community-based OST contexts that do not have the capacity to provide their own digital learning experiences. Panelists will describe a program model that facilitated technology skill-building in spaces that traditionally focus on socio-emotional development.

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