On the doorstep of a new year, we have a valuable opportunity to view the past and future with equal clarity.
In many ways, members of the Remake Learning network spent all of 2022 in that fruitful in-between space – reflecting consciously on past progress while launching purposefully into the future they’ve been working towards.
Remake Learning took time this year to acknowledge its milestone 15th anniversary, and they celebrated the occasion in style. More than 400 people gathered on September 15th for the Big Remake Bash at the New Hazlett Theater and MuseumLab. This network and the learning ecosystem it has fostered grew from the inspiration and effort of just a handful of people gathering over pancakes and coffee back in 2007.
Since then, Remake Learning has helped attract investments totalling nearly $100 million in schools, organizations and innovative learning projects around southwestern Pennsylvania. It has hosted hundreds of learning events for kids and families, and transformed more than 400 learning spaces into STEM labs, media hubs, maker spaces and collaborative classrooms.
A YEAR OF REFLECTION
The anniversary, of course, wasn’t just acknowledged on that one night. And praise didn’t just come from local leaders. Well wishes arrived from around the country. Even President Biden took time to write a letter.
“As you celebrate this milestone anniversary,” President Biden wrote, “may you be filled with pride in all the progress you have achieved, and may you continue to embody our Nation’s spirit of service.”
There was global acknowledgement, too: Remake Learning was announced as one of six winners of the WISE Awards, which honor innovative projects addressing educational challenges worldwide. Since launching the awards program in 2009, WISE has received over 4,900 applications from more than 150 countries.
Only six projects are chosen as winners each year, so Remake Learning’s members were delighted to be welcomed into this group.
And yet even as past accomplishments were celebrated, the focus was on the future.
COMMITMENTS AND COMMUNICATION
This year, Remake Learning announced more than 50 major commitments from organizations across the greater Pittsburgh region totaling nearly $100 million. These financial commitments from industry partners, philanthropic partners and educational leaders represent what the network calls “an unparalleled bet on tomorrow,” designed to uplift all of the region’s learners.
That announcement capped a year of progress:
- The network welcomed new leadership of the ongoing CSforPGH and PghSTEAM initiatives.
- The Remake Learning Days festival grew to include more regions of the country than ever, with events extending from California to Washington DC, from Wisconsin down to Florida, and beyond the U.S. borders to Doncaster, U.K., and Christchurch, New Zealand.
- Outreach of all kinds happened in 2022. Members of Remake Learning’s rural communities affinity group traveled the globe from Chattanooga to Bali sharing lessons learned from remaking learning in rural contexts.
- Seasons two and three of the Remaking Tomorrow podcast included voices of local wisdom like Bill Strickland and Melissa Butler, and voices of global distinction including Emily Oster and Todd Rose. Along the way, young people were heard loud and clear during a six-part youth takeover.
- National media outlets including TIME Magazine put a spotlight on remarkable things happening within the Remake Learning network.
Best of all, throughout 2022 there was a palpable sense that 15 years of growth and progress have begun coalescing in new and powerful ways.
INNOVATION AS A PERMANENT PART OF THE LANDSCAPE
Far from returning to any pre-pandemic “normal,” Remake Learning’s Moonshot Grants program made one thing very clear in 2022: Ambitious innovation is a way of life in our region, and visionary thinkers are right at home in our learning ecosystem.
The initial cohorts of Moonshot grantees selected in 2021 were able to realize their ambitious projects in 2022, and new grantees were able to kickoff their own groundbreaking projects.
The world took notice: People magazine wrote about Butler Area’s Broad Street Elementary and their Food Desert Farmstand project, just one of many Moonshot projects revolutionizing in-school and out-of-school-time learning throughout the Pittsburgh region this year.
BUILDING NEXT-GENERATION TOOLS FOR ALL
Remake Learning has always seen innovation as something to be shared, whether through in-person meetings and virtual gatherings or via publications offering actionable ideas and inspiration. This year, three new tools were created.
The Personalized Learning Working Group recognized a need for more structure around the concept of personalized learning across the region, and collaborated to define a shared vision and common understanding for personalized learning. This worked helped to unify the region’s commitment towards a common purpose and led to the development of a shared framework for Personalized Learning.
And the Maker Learning Collaborative completed a report on the state of maker learning in the Pittsburgh region. This soon-to-be-released publication, inspired by the national State of Maker Learning Today, offers direct perspective from stakeholders in K12, higher education, industry and the community. The report explores priorities like increased capacity and collaboration, and looks at the balance between STEM learning and artistic expression that maker learning encompasses.
Perhaps most powerfully, in 2022 Remake Learning unveiled The Pittsburgh Principles, a tool that clearly defines and shares the core ideas, key mindsets, and design elements that have helped shape the thriving learning ecosystem we see growing throughout the Pittsburgh region.
“Learning ecosystems are made up of the resources and opportunities for learning that exist in a place – and the web of connections and relationships that bring learning to life,” explains Tyler Samstag, director of Remake Learning.
“It’s our responsibility to nurture and steward those naturally occurring elements and help them grow in more engaging, relevant, and equitable directions. That’s what we’ve spent the last 15 years learning how to do. We created The Pittsburgh Principles to offer inspiration and guidance to anyone starting, strengthening, or sustaining learning ecosystems in their own communities.”
The Pittsburgh Principles publication may be the best example of how members of the Remake Learning network spent 2022: Mining the past for all the insight and knowledge it can offer, and launching into the future with a clear-eyed commitment to groundbreaking innovation and the growth of Pittsburgh’s ever-evolving learning ecosystem.
Author: Melissa Rayworth, Journalist