Learning Labs Update

Saint Paul Learning Labs Project

What we're doing

In early February, the IMLS grantee cohort convened in Chicago.  It was an invigorating meeting.  We heard from:
  • Mimi Ito about connected learning for a digital age, and how kids need help connecting their interests to academics.  She emphasized that, since digital learning takes place in informal settings, the digital divide is increasing for teens without access in their homes.  Libraries and Parks can bridge this accessibility gap.
  • Diana Rhoten, who inspired us to identify, link to, and coordinate with different sites, resources, content and materials in order to make meaningful connections for teens.  We need to help kids articulate their interests.  She inspired us to experiment & innovate – to fail fast, and fail often – and to be "gracefully over-ambitious."  We loved her sage advice as someone who was recently going through the same planning process.   She said, “When you don’t’ know what you’re doing, go big!”
  • A panel of mentors and teens from the YOUmedia site at Chicago Public library.  We received invaluable advice.  Of particular note: when asked to give us advice as we plan to open a similar site, not one teen mentioned technology.  They repeated over and over, “You need good mentors.”  Our vision and focus changed from thinking we needed the best technology, to realizing we need the best people.
Now back in Saint Paul, we're spreading the excitement of this project!  
  • We have met with several like-minded organizations, such as the MN Writer's Project, we checked out The Lab at Saint Paul Public Schools, and Mahtomedi High School's Fab Lab.
  • We presented our vision of the Saint Paul Learning Labs project to the Saint Paul Public Library Board and the Sprockets Leadership Group.

Inspiring places

Fab Lab
The Fab Lab - Mahtomedi High School
The Lab
The Lab - Saint Paul Public Schools
YOUmedia - Chicago Public Library
YOU media
YOUmedia - Chicago Public Library

What's next

  • Continue to connect with people interested in youth work in the music, technology, engineering, film, sound recording and arts communities
  • Learn from agencies already connecting teens to technology
  • Meet with adult advisory board for the first time in April
  • Assemble teen advisories to obtain critical teen feedback about this project.
  • Present what we've learned so far to the Saint Paul Public Library staff. 
  • Begin work on the creation of the mobile lab.
  • Explore possibilities of creating a virtual space.
  • Connect the architects of the Payne/Maryland space to the knowledge gained at YOUmedia.
  • The Saint Paul Public Library Leadership Academy is working on creating a video documenting other technology labs in the Twin Cities.