Lessons Learned


We’ve learned a lot since beginning this work nearly a decade ago. We’ve identified the most important takeaways that every network should consider, whether they’re just starting out or looking to take their work to the next level.

Build on Your Strengths

Recognize what makes your region uniquely positioned to remake learning. Choose particular areas of opportunity where your network can make the biggest impact. This may be a specific industry that is relevant in your region, a pressing challenge that community leaders wish to solve, or an area of shared interest that many of your network members are already tackling.

Equip Educators to Innovate

Engage teachers and out-of-school educators and enable them to develop novel approaches to learning by offering support services, funding opportunities, and professional development. Educators know best how to connect with their students. With the support of the network, they can implement innovations that enhance learning and inspire their peers to do the same.

Meet People Where They Are

Spread network events and activities across many different host organizations and locations. Offer a range of opportunities for network members to engage at the level of depth that best suits them. Different organizations will have different capacities to dig deeply into network activities, but all can benefit from even minimum participation.

Encourage Cross-Sector Collaborations

Prioritize support and attention for initiatives designed by diverse partners where the collaboration is essential to the innovation, not just a by-product of teams forced to work together. Highly effective learning experiences challenge students to apply methods and knowledge from multiple disciplines to efficiently solve problems — shouldn’t we insist the same be true of the process used to design those experiences?

Find a Champion

Identify an influential person or persons who can speak passionately about the network and attract others to get involved. Your champion can come from a variety of backgrounds — a school administrator, a community leader, a business leader, a local celebrity, a funder, a government official, or even a student!

Empower Intermediaries

Organize a trusted group of entities with leadership capacity to propel learning innovation work in the field. This enables other network members to focus on their mission or business, while ensuring that the operations of the network can be sustained and coordinated for the benefit of all involved.

Create an Identity

Name your network, give it a look, and give it a voice so that network members feel like they belong to something material and significant. As the network steward, strive to speak and act on behalf of all members. Establish a recognizable brand to give your network both a local and national presence.

Understand Network Impact

Set long-term goals for your network and gather evidence of your progress. Measure your impact on both the members of the network and on the children and youth that they serve.

Reach Outside Your Region

Seek partnership opportunities with national and international organizations focusing on learning innovation and connect with other regions, either nearby or around the globe. Follow the work of others you admire and add your voice through social media channels. Your network will benefit and scale more quickly from the influx of new ideas and opportunities, and knowledge in the field will grow by sharing the best of your work with others.

Be Open and Inclusive

Actively invite people in — don’t worry about giving away an extra free piece of pizza; you don’t know who will come together to create the next great idea. In lieu of rigid membership criteria, allow people and organizations to self-identify and lower all the potential barriers to network involvement.

Be Authentic

Create a network unique to your community. Leverage resources and toolkits like this Playbook to inform your thinking, but don’t take a cookie-cutter approach to replication. Be inspired by the work others have shared and use it as raw material to remake into your network’s own innovative strategies.

Be Audacious

The current model of education is failing too many kids. We need bold action and courageous risk-taking by every constituency with a stake in their future. We must harness the creativity and ingenuity of the entire community to cultivate novel approaches to learning challenges — both old and new. We ourselves must test, try, fail, succeed, and learn. And we must act swiftly and decisively; tomorrow is already here.


About the Remake Learning Playbook

This is the fifth of six chapters of the Remake Learning Playbook, an ambitious effort to open source the “project code” for learning innovation undertaken by Pittsburgh’s Remake Learning Network.

We’re eager for your feedback! We’ve released the Playbook on Medium so readers can share feedback and help inform the field. Please add comments, notes, suggestions, and questions throughout these chapters to help us make the Playbook as useful as possible.

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Table of Contents


Top photo: The Outdoor Classroom / Joey Kennedy for The Sprout Fund