The Connected Learning Research Network (CLRN), Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL), the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) and YOUMedia Learning Labs Network have been awarded a $772,864 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to launch their Capturing Connected Learning in Libraries (CCLL) project.
The project — a research and practice collaboration between CLRN, LAPL, YALSA and YOUMedia — aims to enable libraries to better assess learning outcomes for their connected learning programs and boost their ability to use evaluation data to improve their programs. It is focused on identifying persistent problems of practice around connected learning programs and ways of addressing those problems. CCLL includes an examination of existing literature; the development of measures; piloting and testing of evaluation plans with embedded measures; the establishment of benchmarks to determine spread and uptake of resources; and the surveying of practitioners to contribute to the understanding of connected learning efforts in libraries.
Connected learning is an approach to learning and program design that supports experiences for youth that are participatory, socially connected, interest driven, and oriented toward educational opportunity.
“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to learn from library professionals across the country about how programs for youth can be designed and improved,” said Mizuko (Mimi) Ito, the project’s principal investigator, CLRN director and MacArthur Foundation Chair in Digital Media and Learning at UC Irvine, where CLRN is based. “Libraries are key allies in making connected learning opportunities available to all young people, and this project is an effort to have research better support this movement.”
As part of the CCLL project, team members will provide librarians with evaluation instruments, tools, and plans to understand the effectiveness of connected learning programs to help librarians better assess learning outcomes.
“Thanks to funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Capturing Connected Learning in Libraries project will move forward,” said Beth Yoke, YALSA’s executive director. “This initiative will fill a significant gap in today’s informal learning landscape by providing libraries with practical tools to evaluate the connected learning opportunities they provide for and with young people. Ultimately, the nation’s youth will benefit from the enhanced learning opportunities that libraries will be able to provide as a result of resources created by this project.”
By addressing the urgent need for effective evaluation and documentation tailored to emerging library practices, the CCLL project will advance the IMLS strategic priority, “Learning in Libraries,” leading to: measures, evaluation tools, and approaches tailored to contemporary library spaces; evidence-driven case studies of effective designs and practice; and examples and guidelines for relationships and shared practices that connect evaluation researchers and library practitioners, Ito said.
In addition to developing methods for evaluating the scope and influence of library services, she added, “the project will synthesize findings across evaluation efforts in order to better understand how libraries are supporting connected learning.”
The IMLS grant was awarded to the project team as part of the Institute’s National Leadership Grants for Libraries, which support projects that address challenges faced by the library and archive fields and that have the potential to advance library and archival practice with new tools, research findings, models, services, or alliances that can be widely replicated.
Mimi Ko Cruz
About the Connected Learning Research Network
The Connected Learning Research Network is dedicated to researching and reimagining learning for the 21st century. The interdisciplinary research network is committed to understanding the opportunities and risks for learning afforded by today’s changing media ecology, as well as building new learning environments that support effective learning and educational equity. Network researchers focus on a model of connected learning — learning that is socially connected, interest-driven, and oriented toward educational opportunity. The network is part of the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub, based at UC Irvine. Learn more at clrn.dmlhub.net.
About the Young Adult Library Services Association
The Young Adult Library Services Association is a national association of librarians, library workers and advocates with a mission is to expand and strengthen library services for teens. YALSA brings together key stakeholders from the areas of libraries, education, research, out of school time, youth development and more to develop and deliver resources to libraries that expand their capacity to support teen learning and enrichment and to foster healthy communities. Learn more at ala.org/yalsa.
About the Los Angeles Public Library
The Los Angeles Public Library provides free and easy access to information, ideas, books and technology that enrich, educate and empower every individual in the city’s diverse communities. Learn more at www.lapl.org.
About YOUmedia Learning Labs Network
The YOUmedia Learning Labs Network is a national, open network of transformative spaces dedicated to new kinds of thinking about what learning institutions such as libraries, museums, and community centers can become in the 21st century. The Network supports an online community of practice dedicated to supporting practitioners working with youth, conducts research and curriculum development, and consults with learning institutions interested in expanding connected learning opportunities for youth. Learn more at youmedia.org.
About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Its mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Its grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov.