Making Learning Engaging, Relevant, and Equitable
Remake Learning is a network of more than five hundred organizations and several thousand individuals in southwestern Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia who are committed to innovative teaching and learning. The network’s members include educators, musicians, filmmakers and entrepreneurs; they work at schools, universities, libraries, museums, startups and many more.
All of these stakeholders, in one way or another, are working to create practices in learning and education which are “engaging, relevant, and equitable.”
Sunanna Chand, Director of Remake Learning, summarizes these ideas in the following way: “Engaging means active; relevant means related to the interests and passions of students and to modern technology and the 21st century economy; and equitable means that the kids who need the most, get the most.”
Chand stresses that the sheer scale of this task is such that collaboration is necessary: no one individual or organization can tackle something like changing education.
But when the community of people trying to enact that change is connected, she says, the efforts of everyone involved become more efficient as less time and resources are spent on redundancies and trying to reinvent the wheel.
For example, Chand recalls a 2010 Remake Learning event when representatives from Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh-based game designer Schell Games, and the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh met each other for the first time. “Before that,” says Chand, “the people at CMU and Schell had both been thinking, what could be a cool project to do in a museum space?”
That first meeting sparked a collaboration that led, four years later, to the creation of MAKESHOP at the Children’s Museum, a space where children and families can do hands-on projects in areas like woodworking, circuitry, and stop-motion animation under the supervision and instruction of experienced makers.
Hosting that event, Chand says, was an example of Convening, which Remake Learning identifies as one of its five main network support strategies in the Remake Learning Playbook.
The other strategies similarly help build community in the Remake Learning Network. Giving out mini-grants is a form of Catalyzing. Communicating can range from documenting best practices in a video to distributing a newsletter. Setting an agenda for the network as a whole is an example of Coordinating. And Championing means, simply, to celebrate and recognize achievements.
In concert with these strategies, Chand also says that Remake Learning has recently added a new focus on equity, diversity, and inclusion to its mission. To her, being truly inclusive in community building means going a step further than simply inviting everyone to collaborate. It means making sure that all people in a community have equitable access to resources and the ability to make their voices heard.
“You have to be intentional about this,” says Chand. “People talk about the benefit of things happening organically, but that’s not enough. You have to design for inclusion.” In her opinion, Chand believes that “innovation and change happen when people who are different come together and think of something new. The greater diversity we have in the network, the greater ability people who are different have to trust each other and work together.”
That last point is especially important, she says. In today’s world — where in some ways we are hyper-connected, but in others we are more segregated than ever — community building may be the best way to enact change when problems arise that no one group can solve alone.