When I first started as a Public Ally, I had no idea what the Sprout Fund was. Fast forward 1 year and a couple months, now I have just had the privilege of being a Facilitator at the Learning Pathways Summit.

Learning Pathways Badge, Pin, and Program
Anyone who knows me knows I’ll do just about anything for a nice name badge…

While Pittsburgh is in the name, at one of the tables I worked with there were educators from Wheeling, WV and Iowa… Iowa! What would possess someone to come to Pittsburgh from Iowa?

Let’s back up a little bit first.

The Sprout Fund first came to my attention through my Public Allies training. (Those in the know will tell you that the Sprout Fund has top-notch facilitation training.) Then, in my placement work at the University of Pittsburgh, I applied for a grant from Sprout (which, yes, they did receive).  And then I learned about Digital Corps.

As someone with tutoring / teaching experience and an emerging passion for technology, I was excited to be accepted into their unique “train the trainer”-style learning cohort. I had new exposure to Mozilla programs, Hour of Code, and Hummingbird robotics kits.  At the time, I had some WordPress development / coding experience. In all honesty, being in a room with professional engineers and mentors was completely intimidating. I decided it was time time to take my skills to the next level.

After my training, I was very fortunate to serve at CLP Woods Run and see teens explore coding opportunities, too. Over time, I built up a little confidence and rapport with the kids so I introduced them to some extra online learning resources that I was in the middle of using, MIDI basics, and sound boards. I was only a Teaching Member for a summer, but I got a lot out of it.

Naturally, when I got the call asking if I wanted to work on a working group for Digital Badging, I said yes. The working groups convened over 100 experts in science, education, making, and outreach (and other realms I’m probably forgetting) to figure out how to truly become a City of Learning. Bringing together diverse groups have created a collective understanding of learning happening in the city and how to promote it.

That’s the kind of thing that draws people in from all over – a model for recognizing, illuminating, and legitimizing out-of-school learning opportunities. Personally, I think it takes a lot of bravery to ask for feedback, especially when it involves education.

Overall, I had a great learning and working experience today.  I practiced some facilitation skills, learned about innovate work done by local educators, and got some insight into the making and execution of well-orchestrated event.

For those who are wondering what that means, here’s an example of how innovation comes in all shapes and scales: The day’s agenda was on the back of everyone’s name-tags.

Again, I am ending today feeling very inspired.


Pittsburgh Learning Pathways Summit 2014

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