September 23, 2019 | Comment

From Concept to Reality: Announcing the Connected Learning Research Tools Site!

Categories: Connected Learning, Featured, Research
Word Cloud for Research Tools website

Announcing the new Connected Learning Research tools site, featuring tools and instruments from 10 connected learning studies and projects!

We expect this site to be of interest to:

  • University researchers (graduate students, postdocs, and faculty) doing research in similar areas that are curious about how our research was done,
  • Evaluators of informal youth programs that do assessment and evaluation, and
  • Practitioners (librarians, teachers, educators) in informal youth programs that need to do research or evaluation to accomplish a goal.

This new site is organized by studies and tools. Visitors to the site can select a study by clicking the corresponding image to learn the story of each study, including a project description, team members, any reports or case studies published, and tools used. These stories are included so scholars and practitioners can see the range of material that is possible to create using the instruments.

Included on the site are studies of specific programs (Urban Scholars, YouMedia, FUSE Studio); studies of youth new media practices (Leveling Up study, Parenting for a Digital Future, Leveling Up – Parenting study); and general instruments and techniques for documenting and evaluating connected learning (Longitudinal study of CL, Capturing CL in Libraries, ConnectedLib, YPAR Pathways Project).

Visitors can also access individual tools directly from the tools section at the bottom of the page. Each tool page includes a description of the tool, as well as a downloadable version of the tool. Both studies and tools can also be filtered by topic, instrument type, and population using the filter mechanism at the top of the “all studies” or “all tools” pages.

We hope scholars, evaluators, and practitioners will find this site useful! We also welcome submissions for additional studies and tools from our community! If you think you have a study or tool we might be interested in including on the site, please contact us.

About the site

From 2011 to 2018, the Connected Learning Research Network (CLRN) was an international network of scholars supported by the MacArthur Foundation to study the properties and supports of the connected learning framework. As the CLRN was coming to a close, and after nearly a decade of collaborative research together, the research teams conceived of an idea to build an infrastructure to share their research instruments and findings with the broader connected learning community.

The initial research tools microsite was built in 2015 and is a proof of concept for the broader CLRN Research Tools work. It contains the work of one of the projects of the CLRN, the Longitudinal Survey Study of Connected Learning, which surveyed the same group of youth over three points in time and also interviewed them. The survey covered the youth’s unique interest area, their participation and entry into the interest, as well as the connection of this participation to more collective outcomes like positive sense of the future and civic engagement. The site contains instruments (for example, the full survey, as well as survey questions broken down by type), a construct map for concepts operationalized in the survey, and a technical report and academic paper for how to use the survey instrument.

With this proof of concept site launched and successfully received by the community, the Connected Learning Lab, with the help of the survey team, set to work to collect instruments from the other research teams of the CLRN, as well as related projects from the wider community.