2017 marks the tenth year of the Remake Learning Network. As we close the book on our first decade, we’re taking the opportunity to look back on the Network’s work in 2016 and ahead to what comes next.
A winter of new partnerships, collaborations, and networking.
2016 began with the launch of several Ed Tech Refinery projects, which paired edtech startups with local schools and out-of-school learning partners to play-test new ed tech tools, deepening the network’s engagement with the local startup scene.
Our Remake Learning Network Meetups and Lunch and Learn events kicked off at Pittsburgh Public Schools with a talk from James Doyle about key partnerships between PPS and out-of-school-time program providers.
Remake Learning Network members traveled to California to share their insights at the Deeper Learning Conference in San Diego and the Education Foo Conference organized by Google in Mountain View. Network members also traveled to Texas to present their work at SXSWedu.
Ringing in spring with connections and celebrations.
In the spring, the Remake Learning Council’s Working Groups kicked off a series of meetings to address critical needs in key areas of interest for the network. These meetings convened regional thought leaders around strategic initiatives related to the regional STEM or STEAM Ecosystem, the Maker Movement, and Tech-Enhanced Learning.
The STEM Ecosystems project is in its second year, and it’s part of a national network of regional and state STEM Ecosystems, four of which are in Pennsylvania. This work is bringing stakeholders together around STEM to collaboratively plan and organize.
Meanwhile, participants in the Maker working group expressed a need and developed a focus around understanding how maker skills and competencies in secondary education settings translate to future career opportunities, especially in the advanced manufacturing sector. One great example came from Catalyst Connection’s student video contest that encouraged middle school and high school students to “Explore the New Manufacturing.” You can view a gallery of the students’ videos on YouTube.
In April and May, Pittsburgh Public Schools hosted two-day “Beyond Diversity” seminars to help community members understand the impact of race on student achievement and the role that racism plays in institutionalized racial disparities.
In May, KnowledgeWorks released their Future Forecast and published a special report on the future of learning in Pittsburgh. This document reflected on the achievements of the Remake Learning Network over the last ten years and looked ahead at how educators in our region might adapt learning for new contexts over the next ten years.
The other big story from May was Remake Learning Days. This weeklong celebration of activities and events showcased everything that makes the Pittsburgh region a recognized national leader in innovative teaching and learning. More than 200 events provided educators, students, and families in southwestern Pennsylvania and West Virginia opportunities to experience the power of innovative learning. More than 150 commitments representing $25 million of investment were made by philanthropies, businesses, and governments. Remake Learning Days will return in May 2017 with 12 days of activities and events that showcase the activities of educators and innovators across the Pittsburgh region.
A summer of learning.
The summer kicked off with the launch of Summer 16, a collaboration between the City of Pittsburgh, the Allegheny County Executive’s office, and Allegheny Partners for Out-of-School Time that created a hub for all parents and youth looking for summer enrichment activities.
Summer 16 partners set an ambitious goal of engaging 16,000 youth in summer enrichment and they far exceeded that with more than 22,000 regular participants in ongoing summer camps and programs and an additional 38,000 participants in one-time drop-in activities and events.
Perhaps most impressive was the success of the Carnegie Library’s summer reading campaign, which recorded more than 150,000 books read from June through August.
On Pittsburgh’s Northside, community members involved with the One Northside initiative organized into Action Teams to lead projects that address key priorities in Northside neighborhoods related to education, employment, and place.
In June, our own Gregg Behr traveled to the White House where he was honored as one of ten Champions of Change for Making.
Later that month, a large delegation of Remake Learning Network members gathered in Denver shared insights from their classrooms and programs at ISTE, the premier international conference on edtech.
In July, two Pittsburgh educators were named Deeper Learning Equity Fellows: Temple Lovelace here at Duquesne University and Lisa Abel-Palmieri from Holy Family Academy.
In August, the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County embarked on the next phase of the ongoing My Brother’s Keeper initiative to close the opportunity gap for young people of color in the Pittsburgh region.
Filling up fall with technology and making.
In September, the City of Pittsburgh Department of Innovation & Performance, Citiparks, The Sprout Fund, and Comcast worked together to transform five city rec centers into technology learning centers for Pittsburgh kids. Rec2Tech Pittsburgh was a one-week demonstration project where kids used technology to express their creativity, solve real-world problems, and build job-ready skills. Remake Learning Network partners provided programming at five city rec centers: These providers included Assemble, the YMCA, Digital Corps, TechShop, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Sisters e S.T.E.A.M., and Citizen Science Lab.
Also this fall, two more Pittsburgh-area school districts were named to Digital Promise’s League of Innovative Schools. Montour School District and Fox Chapel Area School District joined Elizabeth Forward, South Fayette, and Avonworth School Districts are also among the 86 forward-thinking school districts in 33 states to be honored with this distinction.
CMU’s CREATE Lab celebrated the fifth year of its Satellite Network, which has expanded beyond the region to include partners in Utah and Georgia.
CMU and Pitt hosted the White House Frontiers Conference, where Pittsburgh-based organizations like Girls of Steel and the Children’s Museum MAKESHOP got to show off how the future of teaching and learning is alive and well here in Pittsburgh.
In September, Avonworth School District was awarded a Digital Media and Learning grant to support an expansion of their Pittsburgh Galleries Project which has students work alongside museum and gallery professionals to plan, design, and create their own artistic exhibit in their community.
In October, more than 20 Pittsburgh-area teachers participated in a workshop to join the second annual Games 4 Change Student Challenge. These teachers will support their middle-school and high-school students as they develop their own video games related to three key themes: local stories and immigrant voices; climate change; and future communities.
The biggest-ever Three Rivers Educational Technology Conference took place on November 8th, and more than 500 teachers, students, and educators from across the country convened at Montour High School.
Meanwhile, the National STEM Video Game Challenge announced their 20 middle-school and high-school winners at a ceremony at the National Geographic Society in Washington, DC. The STEM Challenge hosted 19 workshops in Pittsburgh during 2016, and 4 of the 20 winners had some connection to Pittsburgh.
Earlier this month, we saw the launch of Nation of Makers, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping makers by supporting maker organizations through advocacy, sharing resources, and building community within the maker movement and beyond. This new nonprofit received more than 300 Letters of Support from hackerspaces, makerspaces, and other leaders from the maker community, including several members of the Remake Learning Network.
And just two weeks ago, the National League of Cities hosted its annual City Summit here in Pittsburgh, which was covered by media outlets including Pittsburgh’s own youth reporters from Youth Express. As of this winter, there’s a new Youth Express app available where students’ coverage of this event and other topics of critical interest to youth in our region.
Looking ahead to what comes next.
As 2016 comes to a close, we have lots to look forward to next year.
Six Remake Learning Badge-Enabled Pathways & Playlists teams will complete their programming with students. In May, both Project Zero and Schools That Can will host their national conferences here in Pittsburgh. Remake Learning Days will take us by storm again, and CMU will host its second CONTEXT conference in October 2017. And the National STEM Ecosystems will hold their national meeting in Pittsburgh next fall. And, most importantly, we’ll take more time to reflect and to set goals for the Remake Learning Network’s next ten years.
2017 marks the tenth anniversary of our learning network here in Pittsburgh. When the Remake Learning Network began as the Kids and Creativity Network, it famously started through a series of breakfast meetings, where we worked to bring together educators, innovators, roboticists, and makers. As the network enters its next ten years, we want to make sure that we welcome more people than ever around our table. In the new year, we’ll start some conversations that revisit our network’s mission, vision and values. We want to respond to the network’s desire to make equity and access a central priority.