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Downtown Reflections. Photograph by Brian Cohen.
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Pittsburgh media partners spotlight the region's drive to remake learning

Pittsburgh Children's Museum MakeSHOP
Pittsburgh Children's Museum MakeSHOP

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Pittsburgh is at the forefront of a revolutionary movement in learning and education that is being spotlighted throughout the year by four Pittsburgh media organizations—Pop City, WQED Multimedia, 90.5 WESA and Pittsburgh Magazine.
 
Dubbed “Spotlight on Learning Innovation,” the unprecedented media collaboration profiles leaders and projects moving the region — and the world — forward in education.

A seismic shift is changing the landscape of children's education, bringing modern technology and digital media together and giving kids better tools to learn.

Young people need to be better prepared for college and the workforce, leaders say, not only by building on the basics but through hands-on learning opportunities, especially in the areas of STEAM — science, technology, engineering, arts and math.

The goal is to set learning on fire, says Gregg Behr, executive director of The Grable Foundation, in an article published by CNN last week.

Grable was instrumental in launching the Kids+Creativity Network in 2007, a broad and impressive community of more than 100 Pittsburgh leaders advancing issues for kids, many of whom are building new models and initiatives that are remaking the way students learn. Now the Grable Foundation is funding this year-long media initiative on learning innovation.

The pioneers of today — gamers, roboticists, technologists and designers — are working alongside educators in and out of schools to inspire and provoke creativity and curiosity among children and youth in the Pittsburgh region.
 
The idea is to make STEAM subjects more engaging to students, says Roseanne Javorsky, assistant executive director of teaching and learning at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, a key partner on the project.
 
What better way to do this than by meeting young learners where they already are, through advances in educational technology including video gaming, mobile apps, robotics, computers and art?
 
As the home of Fred Rogers, a media pioneer in early childhood education, Pittsburgh is especially suited to the task. A brilliant and compassionate educator, Rogers taught the world the simplest of lessons — that engaging children effectively required an ability to see and experience the world through their eyes.
 
The Fred Rogers Center continues his work and has been been instrumental in attracting leaders and talented innovators in education from around the world who are championing new ideas and technologies. 
 
And organizations are banding together to forge powerful partnerships. The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh’s MAKESHOP is one example. Joining the national maker trend, the museum has built a large makerspace where younger children and families can tinker, design and play using new and old-world tools. MAKESHOP is a partnership between the museum and Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology Center and the University of Pittsburgh Center for Learning in Out-of-School Environments (UPCLOSE).
 
Another example is edcampPGH. The first event, being held at City Charter High School this fall, will facilitate a dialogue among educators in the region on new strategies and techniques to improve classroom education.
 
“There are so many really good things happening in the region but too often nobody knows about it,” says Javorsky. “Children today are different. As educators, we must foster an environment that allows our students to not only learn and grow, but also to create and build their own world. When children are engaged and motivated, they learn.”
 
The four media partners behind the Learning Innovation project will focus on various people and projects throughout the year and link to each other's work via TV, radio, print, web and social media. The Sprout Fund is a supporter through its initiative, Remake Learning. Other key partners include the AIU, Fred Rogers Center and Carnegie Mellon University.

Writer: Deb Smit
Sources: Roseanne Javorsky, AIU, The Grable Foundation
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