Deepening a Commitment to Personalized Learning in the Pittsburgh Region

Topics: Community Partnerships

How do we transform education systems to create equitable outcomes for all learners? There’s no magic answer or quick fix, but we’ve long known personalized learning builds important inroads to scalable, equitable outcomes.

KnowledgeWorks and the Remake Learning network are teaming up to launch a new working group focused on deepening personalized learning in the greater Pittsburgh region.

The group will enhance the work already happening in the area, while allowing for more sustained integration between personalized learning policy initiatives and practices, and responding to challenges and opportunities presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Together, we want to help the region move forward in pursuit of scalable, equitable personalized learning practices, guided by a shared vision and framework.

“Because the region has already shown a commitment to innovation in education, coming together to create a shared vision for personalized learning is an exciting and pivotal next step,” said Lori Phillips, director of teaching and learning at KnowledgeWorks.

For 15 years, Remake Learning has brought together educators in southwestern Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia to spark new ideas and explore best practices in teaching and learning.

The network has long considered personalized learning a key focus.

“We recognize the power of personalized learning to engage every learner and elevate each of their interests and needs,” says Remake Learning Network Director Tyler Samstag.

Organizations and initiatives from Remake Learning network members like the SWPA Personalized Learning Network, the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Education and Institute of Politics and PL2—to name just a few—have supported connection-making across the region and furthered development of personalized learning policies and supportive practices.

Likewise, KnowledgeWorks takes a systems approach to creating the future of learning. The organization partners with states and learning communities to transform teaching and learning through personalized, competency-based education.

“Now more than ever, we need to start thinking about quality learning experiences that have an impact on self and social justice,” said Virgel Hammonds, chief learning officer at KnowledgeWorks, speaking to the ways schools have continues to serve the needs of learners. “We want schools to be places where students feel safe and cared for, progress in their learning and social development and thrive in all those pursuits associated with childhood. We want teachers, one of the most valuable assets we share with children, to feel safe, supported and respected so they can do the very important work we rely on them to do.”

The momentum for personalized, competency-based learning practices and policies continues to grow, and for good reason. Remake Learning’s conversations about the future of learning point to even more personalization and competency-based approaches throughout their region, with a focus on a future of learning that is just, equitable and learner-centered.

And the realities of COVID-19 have made personalized learning all the more crucial, as educators and regional stakeholders seek to create a system that will be resilient against future systemwide disruptions.

“Everyone in education has been asked to pivot really quickly in the last year. It has been challenging, for sure, and I don’t want to discount that,” said Anne Olson, director of state advocacy at KnowledgeWorks. “However, we have also seen incredible innovations emerge that embrace personalized learning tenets, such as having an assets-based approach to education and empowering students to truly have agency in their day-to-day learning. The next step is finding opportunities to enable innovation in a sustainable way.”

If you are in the greater Pittsburgh region and want to help deepen our commitment to personalized learning, join us for the official working group kick-off meeting on April 14, 2021 from 3:30-4:45pm via Zoom.

About KnowledgeWorks

KnowledgeWorks is a national nonprofit organization advancing a future of learning that ensures each student graduates ready for what’s next. For more than 20 years, we’ve been partnering with states, communities and leaders across the country to imagine, build and sustain vibrant learning communities. Through evidence-based practices and a commitment to equitable outcomes, we’re creating the future of learning, together.