Remake Learning Movement – On the Move

Apr 19, 2017 Education

Visit http://www.remakelearning.org and you will be amazed at the number of programs and initiatives underway to shape the future of teaching and learning in the region.

What started with a few people meeting in 2007, the Remake learning Network has grown into a collaborative network of educators and innovators working together to inspire and empower a generation of lifelong learners in Pittsburgh, West Virginia, and beyond. As the Remake Learning Network has grown to include more than 250 organizations and thousands of individuals, the impact of the network and the number of programs and services it has launched has grown also.

Maintaining the overarching strategy for the network is the Remake Learning Council, a blue-ribbon commission of community leaders committed to raising awareness, building partnerships and setting the agenda for innovative learning in the region. The Council supports regional efforts to advance STEAM education, the maker movement, manufacturing connections, technology education and professional development.

According to Anne Sekula, director of the Remake Learning Council, the Network has had a busy year.

There have been several ongoing efforts regarding innovative professional development. 

Sekula describes one project the Network spearheaded with Luma Institute, called Expanding Innovation, as a matchmaking partnership. “Sixteen school districts participated in the program in which senior level administrators and core curriculum leads partnered and received human-centered design training and coaching around learning ideas that they wanted to collaboratively move forward in their districts,” Sekula explains.

Another professional development program promoted by the Network in collaboration with the Allegheny Intermediate Unit is School Retool, a professional development fellowship that helps school leaders redesign their school culture using small, scrappy experiments called “hacks.” Hacks may start small, but they’re built on research-based practices that lead to deeper learning, and can create the kind of big change school leaders aspire to—namely, preparing their students for life in the real world.

In addition to professional development programs, the Network has been focused on key projects supporting career preparation. Sekula says they are bringing together leading organizations that address secondary education and career preparation to start an initiative called Remaking Career Education to collaboratively look at “rethinking how we are directing or preparing kids for future jobs.” The goal of the consortium is to hold a conference in October that “highlights what the group commonly believes are the themes of the transformation we want to see in the region.”

Preparing kids for the jobs of the future also means leveraging the maker spaces in the region. Later this summer, the Network is publishing Maker to Manufacturing Pathway, a document highlighting more than 122 maker spaces where kids can get direct hands-on fabrication and creative production experiences. Sekula says that the Network believes this is the most of any maker spaces in the country. “There are also a lot of new economies and jobs that are connected to the Maker Movement,” she says. “We are really starting to get a line around what's the type of learning experiences kids should be getting in these spaces, and what are the type of careers this is preparing them for.”

Another key undertaking to reshape learning in the region has been the Network’s ongoing initiative to develop an articulated STEM pathway. The most recent step has been joining the national STEM Learning Ecosystems initiative to collect, identify, and scale outstanding STEM programs and practices. “The Pittsburgh Regional STEM Ecosystem, is working to understand the STEM identifying and reaching out to champions of STEM education working with underserved communities,” explains Sekula. “The goal is to develop collaboration and partnership among those providers.”

Programs like the STEM Ecosystem have resonated with the State Department of Education and initiated conversations about STEM learning and how the department can support local partnerships and be a partner in STEM education statewide,” says Sekula.

Sekula says the Network also attracted the attention of both the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the West Virginia Department of Education, and worked with them on Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) reauthorization. ESSA, which takes full effect in the 2017-18 school year gives states new leeway in education policy.

“The departments joined us to really think about how, at a state level, they were really thinking about their applications for administering ESSA, and what they could do to allow more innovation to take place in their state,” says Sekula. “We worked with Knowledge Works, a national education policy group out of Cincinnati, and the Center for Assessment which provides national level assessment protocols and resources, to come in and help those departments of education rethink their applications.”

Helping people and organizations “rethink” learning is at the heart of the Remake Learning Network. To learn more about the ideas and programs shaping the future of teaching and learning in the region visit www.remakelearning.org.