Back in November, more than 400 educators, artists, students, and learning experts came together for the Pittsburgh Learning Pathways Summit. There, they exchanged ideas and envisioned pathways that would harness the region’s diverse learning opportunities. Now, seven working groups are looking for feedback from fellow subject-matter experts.

In case you need a refresher, a learning pathway is a bit like a “choose your own adventure” book where students move through various education opportunities that both interest them and equip them with a set of skills.

Theoretically, this could happen in any city with a rich web of education programs. But in Pittsburgh, seven working groups in different focus areas (robotics, STEAM, design and making, coding and gaming, media making, early learning, and career readiness) have identified the competencies young people need to gain along each path, helping them build on their talents and interests every step of the way. And badges, a new type a digital credential, are serving as way finders along these paths to show what kids have already accomplished.

In recent months, the groups have been poring over feedback from the summit, making adjustments, and identifying evidence that could be used to demonstrate competence in each focus area.

For example, in a model pathway for media making, students might start by taking a stop motion animation class at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and then move onto a digital photo workshop at Pittsburgh Filmmakers. From there, they would head to WYEP’s audio workshop to learn how to capture audio for video projects, and then they’d move on to Duquesne University, where they’d learn to add music. The pathway continues through workshops for editing, script writing, and presentation screenings.

“I’m invested in the idea of digital badges and what they could mean for Pittsburghers, especially at-risk youth.” Corey Wittig, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

Though the members of the working groups were putting their heads together to map out these paths for kids, several members said the process was helpful for informing their own work.

“The working group project really helped to bounce ideas off of a bunch of folks serving youth around the city,” said Corey Wittig, the digital learning librarian for teen services at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. “I’m invested in the idea of digital badges and what they could mean for Pittsburghers, especially at-risk youth.”

Jessica Ruffin, site director of Public Allies Pittsburgh, agreed. “Our organization could be well-positioned to recognize badges,” she said. “It was a great opportunity to share about our region’s resources and opportunities. I learned a ton.”

But there are plenty of experts who weren’t in the room for these discussions. That leads to our next step: We need your brainpower.

We’re collecting more feedback through a set of surveys where everyone can rate and comment on each of the competencies developed by the Working Groups. After that, the Digital Badge Lab at The Sprout Fund will incorporate this last set of feedback and finalize the competencies and learning pathways, complete with graphics.

It’s been a long process to develop this project, but Maggie Negrete, a teaching artist for MGR Youth Empowerment, summed up an overarching goal at the summit last fall: “It’s about connecting community members,” she said. “There are so many people who live in our community who have the knowledge and resources we’re searching for. I wish every kid could find that one person who knew how to just get started.”

The Remake Learning Badge Competency Surveys are open now. Share your feedback!