Maturity may not be the buzzword for 2016, but in the field of ed-tech and learning innovation, the field seems to have matured. We’ve come a long way since the launch of this network and are entering into a phase of sustaining and advancing progress. We kept up with the developments on the Remake Learning blog throughout the year, and took some deep dives into the ideas propelling the field. From new partnerships to a look back at the first 10 years of Remake Learning, we kept you abreast of the ins and outs of how the Pittsburgh region and the nation are re-imagining teaching and learning for a new age. Here’s a recap.

Embracing the Future

New partnerships and programs reimagined learning in 2016, often capitalizing on the latest technology to create new opportunities for young people. Local schools incorporated virtual reality into the curriculum for the first time. The interactive technology can help encourage empathy among students, advocates say. At Sprout Fund’s Ed-Tech Refinery, entrepreneurs teamed up with educators to ensure that classroom technology is useful and accessible. Innovative professional development programs got teachers keyed in to the latest learning science and tools as well.

We reported on new programs doing the necessary work of getting local students ready for a rapidly changing workforce. Rec2Tech, one program building those 21st century skills, converted recreation centers into labs for green designers, burgeoning med-tech experts, and civil engineers. Digital Promise’s Cricket Fuller told us how cross-sector coalitions dedicated to learning innovation are becoming more common and more structured. And our own network got a shout-out in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, which traced the 10-year history of Remake Learning. In the article, Grable Foundation Executive Director Gregg Behr describes the motive driving members: “We want to create learning pathways for kids that help them navigate the economy, become great citizens, and thrive as lifelong learners.”

Policy and Politics

Politics dominated in 2016, including the politics of education. We dipped our toe in as well. A blog series dissected the Every Student Succeeds Act—the federal education law going into effect in 2017—and its implications for assessment, innovation, and college and career preparation. Educators used digital learning tools to teach young people about the election process. And as students in unwired areas around the country struggled to get online and benefit from connectivity, some asked: Should the internet be a public good?

Say What?

In a changing learning landscape, it can be a challenge to keep track of all the new pedagogies and practices—and the terminology used to describe them. A set of “explainers” on the blog took a stab at clarifying learning innovation, deeper learning, learning pathways, and networks. Network leaders also discussed how to measure the impact of a network, and why. The Fred Rogers Center’s Junlei Li considered the critical role of simple human interaction in the era of digital learning.

Working Locally, Thinking Globally

Lastly, the blog gave readers a ticket out of town in 2016, if only for a few minutes. Kari Keefe of KC Social Innovation Center introduced us to a network of entrepreneurs and educators working to address equity gaps in Kansas City, Missouri. In California and New York City, mindfulness programs encouraged a different kind of exploration, to help students process the trauma and anxiety that impedes learning. Working in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, Amizade took local teens to destinations as far as Ghana and Northern Ireland. The teens are coming home with a new desire to engage in their community and the broader world. Later this week we’ll talk to Jamil Bey, who’s led a series of important community conversations in Pittsburgh with the help of local young men of color and My Brother’s Keeper. It’s all of these voices we’ll be looking to for our inspiration in 2017. Wishing you and yours a happy New Year.